From Dawn Butler's rap to Suella's viral clip, this “TikTok election” isn't working

Society has overused the word “cringe” to the point where it doesn't really mean anything anymore. Wearing an ugly t-shirt? You're cringe. Showing enthusiasm for something you like? That's cringe, right? Pointing out that the word “cringe” isn't grammatically correct as an adjective and that it should be “cringe-worthy” or at least “cringey”? Apparently I'm cringe now.

Thankfully, there are still people in Britain willing to step up and show us what it really means to be embarrassing. Unfortunately, these are the people who run our political institutions and make our laws. And with an election campaign just around the corner, you can be sure they've taken their embarrassing (and worthy) antics to a whole new level using the magic of social media.

Last week, Labour MP Dawn Butler posted a TikTok video of herself rapping about her party's expected success to So Solid Crew's “21 Seconds.” Whatever you imagine when I say the phrase “rapping Labour MPs,” rest assured the video is ten times worse.

Butler walks through her north-west London constituency wearing sunglasses. She raps with a pensioner. The pensioner is also wearing sunglasses. The video would be bad enough if Butler's rap was on the beat, but of course that's not the case.

Not to be outdone, Suella Braverman has released her own TikTok video of herself strutting around her constituency to DJ Fedde Le Grand's 2006 hit “Let Me Think About It” while supporters wave signs in the background.

It is thankfully shorter than Butler's work and contains no rap, which is worth a lot of points in itself. Still, the song somehow manages to be the darker of the two, not least because it begins with Braverman singing along to audio that comes from a different A viral video briefly gives the impression that the former Secretary of State has somehow become an American since we last heard from her – a frightening idea.

Rishi Sunak recently made headlines by saying he was not against assisted suicide and after watching these videos, neither am I. Kill. Me. Now.

But seriously, who told these people they could go viral on TikTok? If you're a politician, your social media activity should begin and end with a Facebook post written by a 22-year-old intern—anything beyond that is extreme overkill.

If you told me that Butler and Braverman were trying to lose the election for their respective parties, I would find it very difficult to argue otherwise. Labor is on course for a landslide victory, but if they suddenly dropped to third place in the polls because of this, I would not be surprised. A rap video?You would lose fewer votes if you released a snuff film.

It's not just British politicians trying (and failing) to keep up with the kids on social media. Our American cousins ​​aren't faring much better, with 81-year-old Joe Biden seemingly having decided to become a TikTok influencer in his later years. Videos on Biden's account show him using internet slang, playing viral songs and leaning into his “Dark Brandon” persona – a tongue-in-cheek meme that portrays the president as a much cooler, edgier version of himself, comfortably outshining Donald Trump. Will that spare us a Trump presidency in November? Probably not – but at least most of us won't be dealing with it, as we'll have squeezed ourselves into a singularity by then.

It's worth noting that Biden is doing all this despite signing a bill that could lead to a ban on the app if it isn't sold by its Chinese owners by the end of the year. I realize this is extremely hypocritical of him, and I'm all for free speech, but if it saves us from more dancing Tories, then I'll happily put those principles aside.

At this point, politicians should be banned from social media. They should be restricted to the things they do well – awkward interviews with hostile BBC journalists and shouting at each other in TV debates that nobody watches. I don't need to know if Keir Starmer has 'rizz'. I don't want Sunak pretending to know what the 'skibidi toilet' meme is.

If politicians wanted to appeal to young people, perhaps they could introduce policies that actually appeal to them, rather than sabotaging their future at every turn. No amount of viral dancing will make up for astronomical college tuition fees, ridiculous military service requirements, or the fact that those born after 1970 can't afford a house.

TikTok is not their world. TikTok is a place where people gather who are much younger than you or me, who have never heard of Braverman and Butler, and who use slang so incomprehensible it might as well have come from another dimension. Politicians have already ruined everything else for young people – don't let them ruin this too.