When Joey Essex met Ed Milband, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage… and a Monster Raving Loony

Joey Essex is the reality star who thinks Nick “Legg” leads the Liberal “Democats” – so what happened when he actually met the party leaders? Michael Buerk went to find out...

David Cameron proved the big disappointment. Joey thinks he’s a strange mixture. “It’s weird. He looks like a normal man, but he’s a king. He’s kind of royal family. Big house. Big gates. Always on TV.” But Cameron didn’t want to meet him! Said he was too busy with this election business. Can you believe it?

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Joey was miffed. “Gutted. Just ten minutes out of his time, that’s all I wanted. Perhaps he wants all the others to look like idiots. Perhaps he thinks I’d really grill him. It’s a big mistake.”

It’s probably fair to say Joey Essex has engaged more with the personalities than the issues. He’s keen on the National Health Service – “I was in hospital once” but “I dunno much about it. Who is the National Health? Who’s doing that? Who leads it?” He was slightly less well informed about Europe. “I don’t know what Europe is.”

“Big continent. Just across the Channel,” I said. Helpfully, I thought. Joey’s manager weighed in with useful stuff about how countries like the UK and Spain were all members of this organisation called the European Union, but Joey wasn’t having any of it.

“I don’t get that. Why’s Spain in Europe for? It’s not though, is it? It’s a different country. It’s so confusing, man.”

It’s not at all clear what, if anything, Joey has learnt from his short course in politics. He thinks Westminster is “a kids’ playground – fully grown men taking the Mick”. He reckons they could do with someone like him to explain what’s going on. “They’re, like, shoutin’ and that and I could be, like, stood next to them in a box on the TV translatin’ for the kids, know what I mean?” 

He says he’s going to vote this time– he doesn’t know anyone of his generation who’s ever done so – but he’s coy about who he’ll vote for. “Not made up my mind. I’m having a think.”

And here’s the nub of it. The programme is predicated on the idea that getting everybody to vote, however dim, ill informed or uninterested they are, is an unqualified good thing. Can I suggest that it is not? Can I suggest that young people in particular should be discouraged from voting and leave older people like me (94% of the over 65s are registered to vote) to choose who runs the country. In our interests, of course. Just like last time. That really would be “reem*”, Joey.

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Educating Joey Essex is on Tuesday 5 May on ITV2