The teenager who sent the first #Milifandom tweet has said that direct engagement with politicians ‘is how we’re going to change politics for this generation’.
Speaking to MM, Jennifer Fleming, 18, from Simonstone in Lancashire, explained how what started as a private joke between her and a friend has become national news, but also elaborated on the hashtags position amongst a more serious political issue in the run up to Thursday’s General Election; young people’s engagement in politics.
Although the hashtag – which has revolved around teenage girls declaring their love for Ed Miliband, the Labour leader – has attracted a vast amount of attention, there is no real evidence that it has resulted in an increase in the politician’s popularity.
However, Jennifer thinks that the Twitter interaction is ‘a gateway into politics’.
“Even though people think the Milifandom is a big joke, I think it’s definitely made people start thinking about who is actually fit to run this country,” she explained.
“We need someone we can rely on for the next five years.
“I think it’s a real shame that in recent years a lot of young people have become disinterested in politics as politicians don’t pay attention to us.
“I think with this, Ed Miliband’s got on board with us and that’s really good because he’s definitely engaging young people which is what we need.”
Miliband’s character has been ruthlessly attacked during the build-up to the election, with accusations being made over his ability to lead, and the public perception of his personality.
But Jennifer thinks that the criticism has been unfair, and hopes that the Twitter attention can help to reverse that public opinion before the election on 7 May.
“I think initially, the press coverage towards Miliband had a lot of hostility, especially because of the way he comes across,” she admitted.
“I think people think he was a bit of a joke, especially as a leader.
“But I definitely think the Milifandom has started to portray him in a more realistic light and people are taking him more seriously which is really great because I think it’s converting a lot of people to Labour.
“I think his policies are great and I think one of the things that was putting people off voting for them was their doubts about Ed Miliband. I think because of this, people definitely have more confidence in them now.”
Miliband will certainly hope that Jennifer’s claims are echoed by her peers, with the Labour Leader needing a significant late twist to secure the keys to Number 10 without the aid of other parties.
And the young Lancastrian, who is currently studying for her A-Levels and will be reading Psychology at the University of York from September, is confident that the Milifandom is different to those enjoyed by boy bands and attractive actors.
“I think especially with teenage girls, fandoms have become very common place,” she said.
“I suppose it’s something for young people to take a hold of in the run up to the general election.
“I do think the Milifandom is different to other fandoms like One Direction or Tom Hiddleston. It’s kind of light-hearted.
“Even though there are quite a lot of people who are in it just because they like Miliband, I think a lot of people are in it because they really do genuinely support Labour policies.
“The difference is that it has a big impact upon our lives, as opposed to a band or an actor.”
Picture courtesy of the Labour Party, with thanks.