Take a Fake: Islington & Finsbury Life Glosses Up Politics

By Jonn Last edited 103 months ago
Take a Fake: Islington & Finsbury Life Glosses Up Politics

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Who knew Floella Benjamin was still around?
There's something ever so slightly suspicious about the new edition of Islington & Finsbury Life magazine. It's a glossy, gossipy Take-a-Break-style title of the sort one finds in the waiting rooms of dentists and barbershops, full of real life stories and clashing colour schemes. It has Sudoku. It has "exclusives". And it has 15 photographs of prospective Liberal Democrat MP Bridget Fox.

That seems rather a lot for eight pages. But then, as the letter from editor Vamsi Velagapudi tells us on page 2, Ms Fox "is the name on everybody's lips." (Really? Perhaps we're drinking in the wrong Islington bars.) "We wanted to find out more about the local woman campaigning to be our next MP," he continues, modestly neglecting to mention that, as treasurer of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, he probably knows rather a lot about her already. In fact, you have to look exceptionally hard to find the small print that owns up to the fact that the entire magazine is - sit down, this may come as a shock - a party political broadcast on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.

The whole venture feels just a little perplexing. For one thing, it's not clear whether you're meant to think it's a real magazine, despite the fact that anyone brighter than a pot of Yakult can see it isn't, or whether it's an insufficiently telegraphed joke. More to the point though, Islington South is one of the most marginal constituencies in London - only Battersea looks more likely to be a Labour loss - and in 2005 the LibDems came just 1.6% behind the governing party. For all the good work the current MP has done, it'll almost be a surprise if Fox doesn't win. Inventing an entirely fictitious womens' magazine, and investing it with all the subtlety of a brick, thus feels a little like overkill.

This isn't the first time a politician has disguised their campaign materials as a magazine, of course (readers are encouraged to mock their favourites in the comments section). But nonetheless, you have to admire the Islington LibDems for sheer chutzpah. Emblazoned across its cover in purple and pink letters are the words that we're meant to think are Islington & Finsbury's Life's tagline: "Real views, real life."

Last Updated 23 February 2010