Forever victims to the BBC’s “left wing bias“, Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party have once again hit the news as they launched their 2014 EU election campaign in Sheffield. This time it was not their sexism or homophobia making waves, but instead another bout of sensationalism aimed at working class anxieties over precariousness and unemployment. In a classic strategy of divide-and-rule, “straight talking” Ukip are making sure the media remains fixed on its posters and not its policies.
With next year’s general election set to be perhaps the dirtiest electoral battle yet, the upcoming EU and local elections will set the tone for a lot of the mudslinging and politicking we can expect come next spring as all parties seek our validation. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some election campaign posters the parties would rather you forgot all about:
1. Nothing is working.
Straight in with this classic from 1979. On the back of stagflation, unemployment and the Winter of Discontent, the Tories rode to power on the promise of job creation and prosperity (at the cost of the family jewels). Fast forward 35 years and they’re at it again, claiming to have brought employment back. If you include workfare programmes, that is. Unfortunately, this election poster now bears a more striking resemblance to real scenes outside a Shropshire Aldi recently.
2. Wanted: over-active imagination.
This 90s Lib Dem poster offers hope of a new, bright (yellow) future against the backdrop of grey Britain. “Everyone’s thinking it,” it tells us. “If they could win it I’d vote for them in a heartbeat.” Too bad then that now nobody is and nobody would. Latest polls have the Lib Dems at around 10%. Back to the campaign poster drawing board then…
3. Labour dishes out the just-deserts.
This 1997 favourite leaves us wondering just what we’d done to deserve Tony Blair. As if John Major wasn’t bad enough, Blair treated us to accelerated Private Finance Initiatives in the NHS and schools, tuition fees, and two small military skirmishes in around 2003.
4. Don’t mention the airbrushing. Or Andrew Lansley.
Okay, the Conservatives would probably prefer you forgot about the airbrushing, but the real issue here is the NHS. Andrew Lansley’s 2011 Health and Social Care Bill (later the 2012 Health and Social Care Act) proposed the abolition of Primary Care Trusts in the NHS. The plans were met by the profession with dismay. The Royal College of Nursing passed a vote of no confidence in Lansley with 96%, and a similar vote was passed shortly after by the British Medical Association. A 2012 RCN report found that over 26,000 jobs had been cut from the NHS since 2010, with the figure planned to rise to over 61,000 by 2015. If that isn’t worth forgetting, there’s also this rap.
5. Outfielders join the in-crowd.
2010 was the year the Liberal Democrats tried to really muscle in on the action at election time. The first ever televised election debates gave our favourite underdogs the chance to punch above their weight and mark themselves out as distinct from the amorphous New Labour/Conservative hegemony. The ‘Labservative’ campaign (geddit?) was launched as the Lib Dems’ own personal brand of urban guerilla warfare. Expectedly tepid, it was full of empty signifiers about ‘getting it right’ in an effort to identify with ordinary folks’ disdain for usual political football between the red ones and the blue ones. The campaign probably sounded quite clever in campaign HQ at the time, but since the ConDem government (much better) took the reigns, the Lib Dems have been content to act as footrests for their Tory senior partners. With this in mind, the ‘Labservative’ campaign now seems pretty cringeworthy, the pinnacle being this campaign video
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Published 23 April 2014
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