Michael Gove’s Stormzy tweet is embarrassing and problematic
Tweeting ‘I set trends dem man copy’ is more than just cringey
In the latest instalment of Tory politician Michael Gove's frankly bizarre attempts to mock Stormzy, he tweeted "I set trends dem man copy". The line, a reference to the grime artist's own lyrics, was ill-judged to say the least.
Stormzy is no stranger to politics, receiving attention for his criticism of Theresa May, the Grenfell Tower fire, and, most recently, Boris Johnson, who he called a 'sinister man with a long record of lying'.
When Gove tries to dismiss him as 'a far far better better rapper than he is a political analyst', he reveals just how painfully out of touch the Conservative Party is with young people.
While the politician is busy tossing insults over social media, it is the rapper who is spending his time encouraging his fans to register to vote in the upcoming election. Stormzy tweeted, 'your vote is CRUCIAL […] I think it's important that we use our vote to make sure that the person who runs our country for the next 4 years is someone committed to doing what is right'.
— #MERKY (@stormzy) November 25, 2019
Moreover, increasing numbers of media outlets have been documenting a 'Stormzy Effect', a term describing the huge spike in youth voter registrations which have been attributed to the musician. After this appeal to his 3.9 million followers over Twitter and Instagram, new voter registrations among under-25s shot up more than 150,000- the largest increase in single-day sign ups since 2017.
At a time when young people are more engaged than ever in politics, Gove shouldn't be wasting time with slick comebacks, he should be telling us about Conservative plans for issues like student debt, the housing crisis, and visas for international graduates.
Yet, Gove's dismissal isn't just symptomatic of the way in which Conservative politicians think of the younger voter. There is also a more insidious undertones to his comments.
When Stormzy speaks articulately and intelligently about politics, he incites a partisan, but thought-provoking discussion with people from everywhere on the political spectrum. He even says 'These are all MY views, I don't care for your love or hate for them, I just think it's important that we all register and go out and vote'.
So, Gove's refusal to respond on the same level, resorting to crude insults, speaks to problematic and exclusionary ideas about who has the right to comment on politics.
Labour MP candidate David Lammy says this best when he accused the Conservative politician of 'sanctioning crass stereotypes after telling an intelligent, successful young black man to stay out of politics'.
The same sentiments have been echoed on Twitter.
One person tweeted: 'Patronising working class BAME people and then mimicking their accents. Absolutely tremendous'.
Patronising working class BAME people and then mimicking their accents. Absolutely tremendous
— David Wearing (@davidwearing) November 26, 2019
Another Twitter user replied, 'Is that how you think black people sound, Mr Gove?'.
Is that how you think black people sound, Mr Gove?
— The SKWAWKBOX (@skwawkbox) November 26, 2019
Finally, someone summed up the mood of most people who replied to the tweet: 'Grow up. You're supposed to be a senior member of the Cabinet'.
Grow up. You’re supposed to be a senior member of the Cabinet.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) November 26, 2019
So, instead of telling artists to stay in their lane, why doesn't Gove take his own advice and focus on winning over voters for the upcoming election?
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Featured image: SWNS