Saturday’s news that the new Star Wars film is to be shot in the UK is good news for Britain’s film industry. But George Osborne’s claim that he played a key role in the discussions to bring production to the UK may have raised a few eyebrows. It is also great news for the economy, which is probably why he was so quick to associate himself with it.
He is far from the first politician to jump on the bandwagon of public appreciation, whereby those in public office align themselves with great achievements in a bid to boost their own standing.
When news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation broke last week, politicians were tripping over themselves to pay tribute. Ed Miliband made the first move: “Proud man. Great manager. Staunch Labour Party supporter.” He was swiftly followed by David Cameron: “Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievement at #MUFC has been exceptional…”
The same happened when Kate and Wills announced they were expecting a baby, when the race to be the first to congratulate the couple was outshone only by the attempt to produce the most gushing reply. (EM: “Something the whole nation will celebrate.” DC: “They will make wonderful parents.”)
The list doesn’t stop there. Think back to our Olympic successes, Andy Murray winning his first Grand Slam tournament, President Barack Obama’s re-election...
There is nothing wrong with congratulating people and publicly recognising an unknown success that would otherwise be missed. But too many widely known good-news stories are used as launch pads for self-promotion.
Do plaudits have to be given on a public platform? If they were genuine messages of achievement, a private memo would surely be more appropriate, not a global tweet.
That said, the new Star Wars film is exciting news. As Mr Osborne said: “May the force be with them.” (I have a sneaking suspicion I’ve heard that somewhere else.)