Is Theresa May Dancing In Africa A Social Media Disaster, Or The Work Of A PR Genius?

Ed Balls 2.0 or Ed Miliband and the bacon sandwich?

theresa may

by Polly Foreman |
Updated on

Without being partisan, one thing that people from across the political spectrum can surely agree on is this: Theresa May has a real knack for getting ridiculed by millennials on social media.

First there was the fields of wheat fiasco, and now there’s the dancing.

Earlier this week, a video emerged of the Prime Minister trying to dance with some children in South Africa (where she is on an official visit attempting to secure future trade deals). She was, obviously, dreadful (how did anyone, anywhere, think she wouldn't be dreadful?) And the clip quickly went viral.

In between laughing, many people voiced their sympathy for May. After all, her moves weren’t totally dissimilar to most of us post-3am down the club, were they? And in our heart of hearts, if ordered to dance awkwardly on demand to an audience of literally millions – would any of us have fared better? Poor, poor Mrs May. She was only trying her best to consolidate the sorts of relations and trade ties that will ultimately better her countrymen in the uncertain anarchy of a post-no-deal-Brexit socio-economic climate that looms before us, right? She’s an innocent the victim of all this childish, playground bullying and ridicule, surely?

But then she did it again.

An entirely new video of May doing an entirely new dance with an entirely new set of children in Kenya emerged today. And, unless the Prime Minister is in the country with no phone, staff, or any sort of contact with anyone and has no earthly idea we’re all mocking her for the original video, then surely she must know what she’s doing?

The Conservative Party have long struggled in their quest to appeal more to young people. They suffered huge embarrassment last year when it emerged they’d asked Capital FM DJ Roman Kemp to make Theresa May ‘cool’. And all their Christmases came at once when MIC star, I’m A Celeb winner, and all-round national treasure Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo voiced her support for the party, a rarity among popular millennial celebrities and influencers.

And it’s entirely plausible that her viral dance moves are a clever attempt of the Party to appeal to the Instagram generation. After all, among those tweeting the original clip is Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Greg James – surely the holy grail of potential routes to this demographic?

Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent at The Telegraph, tells Grazia: “Politicians dancing is rarely a good idea but Theresa May’s efforts in Africa have shown people a side of the Prime Minister that they rarely see.

“Yes she was a bit gawky, but increasingly in politics letting your guard down can be a powerful tool to show people a more human side. It’s not easy, but voters are looking for someone they can relate to as well as someone competent and capable."

To be fair, May isn’t the first politician to do something like this. While the video doesn’t exactly paint her in a good light, there are a few MPs who’ve made mockeries out of themselves and, in doing so, solidified themselves a solid youth fanbase – though such methods have so far been largely confined to the Labour Party. Ed Balls on Strictly Come Dancing is a focal example, and Ed Miliband incompetently eating a bacon sandwich another (who can forget the Milifandom?). Perhaps now the Tories are catching up?

ed balls

“By having a go, even though she clearly hasn’t got a dancing bone in her body, Theresa May let people see that she can laugh at herself and that’s a politically brave and clever move - even if it wasn’t intentional,” says McCann.

Whatever your politics, you can’t deny the clips were funny. And whatever you think of Theresa May, you can’t deny watching her dancing brightened up your day. And whatever you think of her policies, did the clip – even for a moment – make you forget them? If so, then maybe it was the work of a PR genius after all.

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