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UK election PR fails: Gaffes, mistakes and general stupidity


Things are hotting up in the world of British politics. The four most talked about parties are increasingly trying to outdo one another in the run up to May, when we all vote on the future of UK governance.
So far, though, it could have been a far smoother ride for everyone involved, with UK election PR fails aplenty. From Tory mistakes to Labour gaffes, Lib Dem embarrassments to Ukip humiliations, we’ve decided to take a sideswipe at the lot, and offer a few lessons in how not to win the public over, which every brand on the planet should know by now. Take a look below then, and prepare for some pained laughs.

Bill Somebody– Ed Balls 

Labour’s overall approach to the forthcoming election can be typified as fragmented. The media may be giving Ed Miliband plenty of attention thanks to his inability to eat a bacon sandwich like a normal person, but his party seems intent on hiding him away- probably for fear of more ridicule- and instead focuses on overall ethics.
The business world maintains serious doubts as to whether they are the right choice, and so it’s amazing that Ed Balls, the man who would be Chancellor if his party were in power, managed to forget the last name of Bill; a ‘powerful business leader’ who is allegedly one of the few siding with the left.

Divisive campaigns – Conservative Party 

It doesn’t fill anyone with much confidence when one of the most likely victors in May’s poll decides to focus not on policies and promises, but a campaign built entirely on mud-slinging and mocking the main opposition.
As Lucy Powell perfectly summarised in the New Statesman’s political blog this week: “Without a record of delivery, the Tories are reliant on Crosby’s campaign of division… The Conservatives’ negative approach reveals a party bereft of ideas or empathy for working families???. Sorry, David.

 Conservative poster

Crematorium selfie – Josh Mason 

Liberal Democrat hopeful for the Redcar and Cleveland Borough, Josh Mason, made a woeful error of judgement by deciding to take a selfie in front of a local crematorium, which would then be used for his profiles on Facebook and the eyebrow-raising dating app, Tinder.
People were not impressed, an apology has since been issued, but we’re not sure whether telling people that the visit ‘was a stark reminder of our shared mortality’ really cuts it in terms of explaining this kind of behaviour. In fact, we’re pretty sure it doesn’t.


 The wrong phone number – Ukip 

There’s an unspoken rule in advertising campaigns. If you intend on including a contact number on billboards, check, double check, and, finally, triple check the digits are correct.
Unfortunately for Ukip, someone forgot at least three of those stages, so a wedding photographer, who was not only unassociated with the party but against their standpoint, began receiving venemous phone calls accusing her of being aligned to Britain’s right wing isolationists. Not good form.


Women dont necessarily like pink – Labour Party 

We’re still trying to figure out how this got approval at Labour HQ. Nevertheless, it did, and so Harriet Harman headed off across the country this month in a pink campaign vehicle (van).
Her intention was to speak to women and try to get them to vote Labour when the time finally comes. Whether or not this road map to sexism contained any destinations other than supermarkets and kitchens isn’t clear. In contrast, it was obviously a bad idea from the off.

The £15,000 a table dinner –Conservative Party 

The biggest obstacle for the Tories is convincing the electorate they don’t just listen to the richest, or believe in absolute elitism. As such hosting a £15,000 a table fundraising ball, attended by the super-wealthy, to raise cash, seems like a bad idea.
Criticised as proof those with money are the only folk to have their voices heard by the party, the event also involved an auction, where one ‘lucky’ winner bagged a shoe shopping trip with Theresa May for £17,500. Strange but true.


Falsifying supporter realities – Nick Clegg 

Akin to Ed Balls’ Bill Somebody, only not quite as bad (but, coincidentally, occurring in the same week), Nick Clegg was asked to name business leaders who have voiced Lib Dem support.
Unfortunately, he came up with Richard Reed, Innocent Drinks founder and multi-millionaire who, in his own words as quoted in the Telegraph, is actually a fan of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, not the Lib Dems. It’s a small mistake but one that suggests a politician clutching at half truths in order to hide a 25-year low in party popularity.


I’m not racist… but – Rozanne Duncan

Nigel Farage has long claimed Ukip is about traditional values, like smoking in pubs, rather than a party focused on xenophobic and malicious views concerning ethnic minorities.
As such when the BBC documentary, Meet The Ukippers, aired last week, you can imagine the embarrassment when one former councillor declared she wasn’t racist, but doesn’t like ‘people with negroid features’. Apparently she ‘doesn’t know why’, either. Worse still, another member was shown in the same programme discussing their National Front past.

The £10 hedge job – Ed Balls 

Another ridiculous business-related gaffe from Labour’s top gaffer, Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor. Who knows what he was thinking when he told BBC Radio 5 that people should keep a record of all financial transactions by way of a receipt and, ideally, the contractor’s name and address. Even if it’s a £10 payment for trimming a hedge.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, called the statement ‘absurd’, claiming it showed Labour doesn’t understand business. Whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t look good given there’s no legal requirement to keep written evidence of money spent in this kind of way.

Bringing Germany to England – Conservative Party 

‘Let’s Stay On The Road To A Stronger Economy’ was the slogan on recent Tory posters, as proudly unveiled by PM David Cameron. At first glance, though, there’s one glaring problem- the claim that Britain’s economic deficit has been halved simply isn’t true.
Nor is the background image of a perfect English vista. The green fields and rolling hills were actually photographed outside the German city of Weimar, birthplace of the famously doomed 20th Century government, defined by economic catastrophe and subsequently replaced by the Nazi party.


Cash for Access – Labour and Conservative

Trust in politicians is at an all time low, minority parties are increasingly winning the public over, and more people vote for X Factor contestants than their local councillors.
It’s a bleak reality, and one that can only be made worse if both major parties are humiliated by revelations that senior members have offered to use their positions for financial gain on behalf of private interests. Labour’s Jack Straw and the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind have been held to account- both former Foreign Secretaries- so to say this is bad for Westminster’s overall image would be an understatement.


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