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The Political X Factor

Since hitting our TV screens for the first time back in 2004, The X Factor has been a staple of Saturday night television for more than a decade.

Over those 10 years it’s had more than its fair share of scandal, strong opinions, heated arguments and people pleading for votes.

Not unlike the world of politics then.

No strangers to offering their opinions on wannabe singers’ vocal talents, it seems that many of the show’s judges also have some pretty forthright political views as well.

The man behind it all, Simon Cowell, publicly gave his backing to the Conservative Party in the run up to the UK general election in 2010.

Writing in tabloid newspaper The Sun, he described Conservative leader David Cameron as a man of “substance” with “the stomach to navigate us through difficult times”.

Cowell’s replacement on the judging panel for two series of the show, Gary Barlow, is also a Tory. The Take That singer appeared alongside Mr Cameron as he announced plans to launch a national school talent contest – along the same lines as The X Factor – if the Conservatives got into government.

The “School Stars” competition never came to fruition in the end. But the appearance provided an excellent photo opportunity for the then would-be Prime Minister. Barlow told the invited media: “There’s no one more with-it than David.”

But it’s not all pro-Cameron and Conservative on The X Factor. Mr Cowell only has to look next to him on the panel to hear some rather different views on the Prime Minister.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is a staunch Labour supporter. In an interview with Q magazine she described Mr Cameron as “slippery” and said: “We’ve always been Labour in our family, it just feels wrong not to be.”

And the opinions aren’t restricted to the judges either.

The X Factor’s host since series four, Dermot O’Leary, told the Guardian in 2003 that he thinks of himself as a socialist and is a supporter of the Labour Party.

And one of the show’s most successful contestants ever, Harry Styles, is also rumoured to be a Labour man.

The One Direction member, who originally auditioned as a solo act on the show in 2010, reportedly told a party-goer at a post-Brit Awards bash in 2013: “I’m a Labour supporter. I lean to the left. I’m for the people.”

The X Factor’s political parallels haven’t gone unnoticed by Cowell. The millionaire music mogul has previously floated the idea of producing a TV show in which hot topics are debated and voted on by the public.

He said the referendum-style show could tour the country and be a “political X Factor”.

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