Reflection on the Election…..one that saw the advent of New Media influenced politics, Page 3 Girls, spoof adverts, voters insulted and car and plane crashes!!

May 8, 2010

Sun Page 3As David Cameron and Nick Clegg negotiate to form the much predicted Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government, it is time to reflect on what was an entertaining, if not slightly bizarre and surreal Election campaign. It now seems prophetic and symbolic that the Conservatives launched their bid for power, from a derelict Battersea Power Station, just over a month ago……..democracy has dictated that they don’t have the required 136 seats to command total power in Government.

At the end of a long, gruelling Election campaign, for politician and voter alike, The Sun encapsulated what has been a bizarre, surreal and at times farcical period in British politics. As Greece rioted, and the money markets collapsed, on the eve of Election Day The Sun caught the mood perfectly ( take with a large helping of irony!! ), carrying on it’s front page the dire warning that if Labour or the Liberal Democrats won the election they will “move swiftly to change the law and ban page three forever”. The Sun’s front page declared that these “scantily-clad, human rights-threatened women appear to have taken a united stand against such a grim scenario in today’s newspaper, by all wearing blue undergarments in an apparent unanimous show of support for the Conservatives”.

Typical tongue in cheek Sun nonsense, which merely highlighted that in this New Media, on-line dominated era, the national print If Kinnick Wins-stmedia have far less influence in determining the outcome of elections. Eighteen years have elapsed since The Sun announced that “It was The Sun wot won it” for John Major in 1992, after they ran the headline “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”, alongside a photo of Neil Kinnock in a light bulb. Indeed although the conventional electronic and print media played it’s part in the 2010 Election, especially with the new Leaders’ / Prime Minister Debates, there is no doubt that the internet and twitter were just as influential. This was a truly multimedia led Election.

In the build up, Premier Foods had run a series of spoof election adverts for Marmite, centred arounded the “Love and Hate Parties”. Nick Griffin and the BNP, saw the opportunity to maximise on the publicity by placing a jar of Marmite in a U Tube promotion. BNP MarmiteHaving clearly modelled “The Hate Party” on the BNP, Premier Foods somewhat hypocritically took exception to the association with the ultra Right Wing Party, and threatened to sue. That said, it was understandable that the manufacturer did not wish it’s much loved brand to be associated with a Neo Fascist party who announced in their leaflets….”Labour, Tory & Lib Dem politicians have convictions for serious crimes: drugs, child pornography, fraud, violence, vote rigging, etc. For details Google ‘Liars, Buggers and Thieves’ “. Same old BNP, but also indicative of the colourful tapestry to be found in a democratic country!!

The Labour Party also ran a spoof advert – a Billboard poster portraying David Cameron as Gene Hunt on the bonnet of an Audi Quattro. However they misjudged the popularity of the maverick Gene Hunt in the BBC’s cult series “Ashes to Ashes”, and it spectacularly “backfired” on them, if you will pardon the Cameron Quattromotoring pun!! The Labour Party continued to lurch from one PR disaster to another, culminating in the “Bigotgate” incident, with the unedifying sight of Gordon Brown with his head clasped in his hands, as the tape of his indiscretion was played back to him by Jeremy Vine in the Radio Two studio. The whole sorry episode ended in Brown returning to Gillian Duffy’s home in Rochdale, to apologise in person…….a totally humiliating climbdown, by a now discredited Prime Minister. Somehow Labour’s “car crash” campaign was best epitomised by the literal car crash into one of their posters on the side of a bus stop, as a hundred yards away they were about to make a Press Conference to the waiting media!!

The at times farcical nature of the election concluded fittingly with total farce on Election Day. UKIP’s Nigel Farage and his pilot thankfully narrowly escaped death as their plane crashed during a publicity stunt, and the day ended with thousands of would be voters locked out of Polling Stations………Not to worry though, history tells us that Coalition Governments in Hung Parliaments rarely prevail for long; so we will probably have to go through the same democratic process again within the coming year!!

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