SHE’S one of the most famous women in the world, with a fanbase of millions and an extraordinary talent for self-promotion. But what exactly does Kim Kardashian West know about justice reform, the topic that took her to the White House on Wednesday for a meeting with Donald Trump? And if the answer is not an awful lot, does that mean she shouldn’t have gone?

The wags on Twitter were quick with their quips, noting the presence of a washed-up reality star/pouting narcissist/enormous arse in the Oval Office … along with Kim Kardashian (boom boom). But don’t be too quick to dismiss this as a mere publicity stunt by two peas in a pod. There’s no reason to assume Kardashian West – the mother of three mixed-race children – isn’t sincere in her efforts to draw attention to the mass incarceration of people of colour in the United States. Sure, she might not be an expert in the subject, but how many such experts have a direct line to the president?

Observers are justified in despairing that this is how politics works in 2018 – that a top-level policy discussion comes about because a slavering creep of a president reads some well-timed tweets by a woman best known for the size of her bottom – but this state of affairs isn’t the fault of Kardashian West. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the reality star’s now-husband Kanye West declared live on TV that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”. Now, to the dismay of many fans, the rapper is cosying up to Trump. But did West’s outburst make Bush start caring about black people? Did it prompt a change to the way his administration responded to the crisis in New Orleans? Or was West just viewed by the political elite as a typical Angry Black Man, mouthing off and lashing out?

Between them, by strategically appealing to Trump’s weaknesses – beautiful women, celebrity, Twitter attention – this couple have drawn more attention to an important cause than any number of blandly right-on actors, musicians and sports stars have managed. Back on this side of the pond, the memory of Tony Blair’s “Cool Britannia” star-wooing campaign is still enough to inspire a physical cringe more than 20 years on, and most of our politicians have the sense to realise that standing beside someone popular, glamorous and cool risks making them look desperate, embarrassing and try-hard, like a dad attempting to initiate banter with his teenage daughter’s friend because she’s wearing a Led Zeppelin T-shirt.

So rather than cosying up to celebrities, some British politicians have realised they can cut out the middle-men and simply become celebrities themselves. Ruth Davidson, in particular, has realised that her ticket to Westminster power isn’t excelling in her role as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, it’s having what this month’s Vogue magazine calls a “relatable personality” and convincing those who pay little attention to Scottish politics that she’s full of “progressive ideas”. I have a sneaking suspicion that these qualities might actually translate as “having a round, smiley face” and “being a lesbian” respectively, but in a fast-moving world of tweets, gifs and snappy soundbites, who has the attention span to delve any deeper that that?

Genuinely relatable people tend not to make very good celebrities, no matter how hard their handlers might try to make it happen. Take Jeremy Corbyn, for example, a man with truly progressive ideas whose day-to-day exploits are relatable to anyone who’s ever been promoted to a position they aren’t really cut out for, whose public-speaking skills leave a bit to be desired and who always fully intend to prepare for meetings the night before but doesn’t always manage to be quite on top of their brief, thanks to the lure of Netflix/the pub/quietly tending the allotment (delete as applicable).

It’s worth pondering whether the organisers of Labour Live, a festival of music and political polemic scheduled for two weeks tomorrow, have Corbyn’s best interests at heart. The event was planned in March after his turn at Glastonbury went down a storm, but so far only 2500 of the 15,000 tickets have been sold, and the Unite union has bought nearly half of them. The organisers couldn’t even manage to persuade Stormzy, one of the opposition leader’s biggest celebrity fans, to put in an appearance. Even those who regard Corbyn as public enemy number one for his stance on the Union, or Trident renewal, or anti-semitism within his party’s ranks will surely regard this humiliation as a punishment too far.

So where does all this leave us? Is it too late to go back to a time when the political and celebrity worlds were distinct, overlapping only when – as happened in the US this week – a famous face teams up with seasoned campaigners to lobby for a cause they believe in? Or are we doomed to be ruled by someone who currently sees every ding-dong at FMQs as an audition for her next, more important gig?

It’s not the celebrities playing at politics we should be criticising. After all, politicians are free to ignore them if they disagree with the arguments being put forward. It’s the politicians playing at being celebrities – and in doing so hoping to distract voters from a raft of policies that would make them seem “relatable” only to the rich, powerful and privileged – who deserve much more scrutiny.