Who is Ivan Massow?

Ivan Massow is hoping to become the Conservative Party’s candidate for London Mayor.

His campaign are running paid-for ads on social media sites that push users to YouTube where they can watch an animated campaign video in the style of artist Julian Opie, the bloke who did that Blur album cover (Massow is an art collector so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to wonder if the video is by Opie himself).

In the film Massow is positioned as a political outsider.  The video, narrated by Massow, informs viewers that the candidate is gay, a former alcoholic and dyslexic.  This candid approach feels very unexpected and the viewer immediately feels a warmth to him.  Massow goes on to attest to being a candidate who understands normal peoples’ lives, takes the tube, hates traffic and gets fed up with the governing elite.

His position is clearly articulated, it’s differentiating and the production values are good.  No mention of the political party which he is hoping to represent, however.

The viewer, having been intrigued by the refreshing tone of the video and the lack of political affiliation, when invited to click through at the end of the video, will likely go and have a look at his website.  On the homepage, there is no mention of his political party.

The viewer, probably now a little suspicious searches online for something like “who is Ivan Massow” at which point they are met with a raft of articles by the mainstream media that confirm he is indeed a Conservative and which call into significant question a huge number of the things that Ivan has just told them in his film.  For example:

He’s a millionaire businessman – does he really “understand the issues that normal people face”?

He lives in a town house in Oxford Circus – is he honestly “someone who takes the tube”?

He used to share a home with Michael Gove and Nick Boles, both prominent Ministers in the Conservative government – can he possibly “hate politics as normal”?

The viewer is left feeling like they’ve been led on a merry dance and that Massow is guilty of the exact sort of inauthentic bullshit that he claims to be standing against.

I’m sure Massow is very different to what most people perceive as a ‘typical Tory’ and in that sense he is entirely justified in positioning himself as an outsider.  But his team trying to hide from people the fact that he is standing for the Conservatives is just ridiculous and ultimately self-defeating as the intrigue will lead voters to finding out about other things they’re trying to keep quiet.

3 Comments

  1. Ivan is not yet a Conservative candidate. The ad links through to his website which in the About Ivan section clearly indicates his political affiliation. This is not a campaign to get people to vote for him. It is designed to raise his profile and demonstrate he can engage with Londoners who feel ‘politics as usual’ won’t solve the issues they are facing. And therefore show Conservative leadership he can reach the parts of London that other Tories cannot reach. In addittion to the 27,000 views on YouTube it has also generated 490,000 views on Facebook and been shown on the BBC News and over 75 other media. Now that Ivan has positioned himself as a candidate who is not from ‘Westminster central casting’ (see all Labour candidates) he will have an audience who will be willing to hear his policy solutions. This is not the campaign but a first shot in a longer battle and one which has resonated with people outside of the political pundits.

    Questioning his honesty over his statement that he is someone who takes the tube simply on account of where he lives simply shows you do not know Ivan who is a regular user of public transport. The fact he shared a house with Michael Gove (who was also adopted and entered politics after a successful career outside of it) does not negate the fact he is not a career politician and hates politics as normal. As regards being a millionaire businessman who cannot understand the issues facing normal people, you fail to mention he started with nothing and overcame a considerable number of barriers to achieve that success. And by the way Ivan commits a lot of his time and money to helping the underprivileged. But please don’t let facts get in the way of writing subjective opinions.

    Ivan is incredibly open and a cursory search on the internet can fill in any details about him that cannot be crammed into one short video. There is nothing to hide.

  2. My point is that by not being open about the party which he is seeking to represent (one mention towards the bottom of a secondary page on a website is not ‘open’) he opens himself up for other accusations around the authenticity of his story. I make no comment about whether or not he does indeed take the tube etc…but by not stating clearly his affiliation it will make people wonder about the veracity of other things he says. And yes, of course these are subjective opinions; quite hard to be fact-based when talking about whether or not one likes an advert.

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