The Uniform-Dating Effect

Nikhil Venkatesh

Image © Metropolitan Police

I recently saw an interesting advert on the television: it was for the internet dating service, ‘uniformdating.com‘. The advert asks for people to join the site ‘if you work in uniform’ (a bit strange to differentiate this group for romantic purposes, isn’t it?) or, even more sinister, ‘if you just fancy those who do’. I have no problem with the idea of internet dating, and if people in a uniformed occupation (or with a strange attraction to this diverse group) wish to use the service, then good luck to them. But, to most people, doesn’t this seem just a bit… well, weird?

My theory is that the main aim of the owners of this site, the NSI group, is not to encourage people to join this particular site. Through their ‘Really Fab Dating’ software, NSI have an interest in the fortunes of many different site within the internet dating industry. Through spending lots of money on TV adverts for uniformdating.com, the company probably hopes to help the industry as a whole. This is how: 1) There is still a stigma about internet dating; some people think it’s ‘a bit weird’. 2) These people will see uniformdating.com as ‘very weird’. 3) Suddenly, in comparison, mainstream dating sites such as match.com (from comparing the fonts, I assume NSI have something to do with that one too) seem far more normal. Thus, through creating an intentionally off-beat site, the internet dating industry will improve its image, and grow.

What impact could this insight have upon politics? Well, my theory is that the existence of far right political parties, such as UKIP and the BNP, makes the Conservative party appear very moderate, centrist, and cuddly. Voters may see David Cameron passing legislation to make life more difficult for disabled children, but they can always note that Nigel Farrage would have them caned, and Nick Griffin would deport a reasonable proportion of them. Even within the Conservatives, David Cameron is made to look centrist. When Ann Widdecombe proposes that homosexuals should be ‘cured’, and 81 Tory MPs want a referendum on the EU, the public count their lucky stars that well-known gay-rights activist David Cameron takes a sensible attitude towards Europe.*

Since British communism never really made inroads into the public consciousness, and has now all but collapsed, there is no conspicuous political opposition to the left of the Labour party. Perhaps if the Socialist Workers’ Party received as much media coverage as the BNP, Ed Miliband would be more capable of taking a more left-wing line than he does – he would always look more moderate than someone else. And what about the far left of the Labour party itself? Well, thirteen years of government has been shown to be the best way to turn revolutionaries into centrists.

With the absence of his own uniformdating.com outrider, Miliband can always be criticised as being the ‘loony left’, whereas Cameron can never be the ‘loony right’; Nick Griffin is.

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