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Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard’s words of advice to political candidates ahead of UK election

Latika M Bourke
The Nightly
Former prime minister Julia Gillard has told UK political candidates that the most important thing on the campaign trail is to eat well, stay hydrated and “get some sleep”.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard has told UK political candidates that the most important thing on the campaign trail is to eat well, stay hydrated and “get some sleep”. Credit: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has offered some novel advice to the hundreds of candidates hitting the hustings as the UK heads to the polls — eat your vegetables.

Britain heads to the polls on July 4 in an election Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Conservative party are widely expected to lose, after four terms in office.

UK Labour, which was last in power between 1997 and 2010, has only governed for 30 of its 124-year history.

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However, unlike the Blair-slide of 1997, Labour’s Leader Keir Starmer is seen as an uninspiring alternative with few policy offerings, making turnout a key factor given Britain has voluntary voting.

Asked at a bipartisan event where she was speaking in her capacity as chair of the philanthropic Wellcome Trust what her advice was to candidates contesting the poll, Gillard’s response prompted laughter.

“Message number one would be, stay hydrated, eat your vegetables,” she told the London-based Coalition for Global Prosperity not-for-profit, an organisation that educates MPs and political candidates about the value of international aid.

“Try to get some sleep because it’s really hard.”

More seriously, she said successful political candidates would need to cope from dealing with local constituent concerns to shaping bigger-picture policy including climate change, the health system, equality, overseas development and Britain’s place in the world.

“And I’d urge you to reserve enough time once you get there to be making a contribution on the big picture issues,” she said.

“I’m not unrealistic enough to think you can take a lot of time now you’re campaigning.

“But once you’re there, then getting your head around those issues is a really important thing to do and it matters to the future of this country.”

Gillard said that people outside politics underestimated how difficult breaking into politics was for candidates and their families.

“When you’re in that cycle of first trying to break into politics it’s everything

She said it was particularly difficult for political newbies who were often juggling a job to keep a basic income while trying for a shot at political office.

“All of your family stuff and stuff with friends becomes distorted around mobilising them to help you with the campaign.”

While Gillard will not take any part in campaigning activities in the British election, she recently lent her star power, as Australia’s only female prime minister, to one of her friends, Adam Jogee.

Jogee is standing for the first time as the Labour Party’s candidate in the constituency of Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire in England’s West Midlands.

“A massive thank you to, former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard for coming to help us win Newcastle!” Jogee said in a social media post.

“As a personal favour to a friend — Adam — I attended his campaign launch,” Gillard told The Nightly.

“Doing so gave me the opportunity to wish him well and meet his family.

“I also met a number of his campaign volunteers.

“I am always admiring of those who donate their time to get out and actively support the democratic process.”

Jogee also counts Anthony Albanese among his friends and was a hand-picked guest at the Prime Minister’s private event at the Australian residence Stoke Lodge, during last year’s coronation of King Charles III.

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