#milifandom isn't just an ironic appreciation of the Labour leader – it's a sign of how the internet has altered the youth vote
Who saw this coming? Ed Miliband has joined the list of contemporary, lovable British men (see: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston) who command an army of loyal fans despite their awkward dweebiness. The #milifandom has arrived – the proud political baby of an obsessive, internet-savvy generation with Tumblrs like Fuck Yeah Ed Miliband and Twitter icons of #milibae.
Buzzfeed reports that a 17-year-old Labour supporter called Abby is the official founder of the fandom. Between professing her love of the much-maligned-in-the-media-Miliband, she also keenly RTs Labour policies and speaks out against the power that Rupert Murdoch holds over the UK.
If Ed is elected pm for the first time the prime minister of Great Britain will have a fandom— abby (@twcuddleston) April 20, 2015
There are those in the milifandom, those who find the milifandom funny, and those who wonder how the hell ed miliband has a fandom— abby (@twcuddleston) April 21, 2015
Far from an apathetic young person, Abby's in regular Twitter convos with people her age about the election. And it's not just about ironic memes and GIFs – there's a genuine desire to connect politically with her 13,000 followers. Which is probably why Ed Miliband himself was compelled to tweet at her:
Ed Miliband obviously knows that social media comes with its pitfalls. He's been the butt of jokes across Vine and Twitter, in videos retweeted thousands of times that show him fluffing his lines or in that bacon sandwich photo. At first he looked hapless, but without rain you don't get flowers. By accident or design, the underdog Labour leader is slowly becoming the internet's favourite political contender.
slowly becoming miliband af— jessica // revision (@richardhammcnd) April 21, 2015
how do i break it to my mum that im ed miliband af— katie // revision (@cumberphan) April 21, 2015
In previous elections, young people struggled to find a way to make their voices heard over the braying of Westminster politicians and big media. Come 2015, they're fluent in a slang that politicans are scrambling to understand (see: the Lib Dems Cassetteboy ripoff). #milifandom is one indication of just how much Twitter can alter the collective consciousness of this election – and it's a shift led entirely by young people, some of whom are too young to even vote.
In a Time Out interview this week, Miliband confessed that he didn't know what YOLO meant, but joyfully adopted it as a powerful phrase for politics, endearing himself to even more people in the process:
After being labelled a "North London geek" on Newsnight, and attacked on the daily by the Daily Mail, Ed has accidentally become a Twitter pin-up – complete with stans, GIFs and photoshopped Lana Del Rey flower crowns. He's having his battles fought for him by an internet-empowered generation concerned with empowering others.
He can't make a Vine and may need to brush up on his acronyms, but one can imagine that Ed will be only too happy to discover what Tumblr is as he scrolls through Fuck Yeah Miliband over his morning coffee.