There's nothing quite like making a gaffe in an election campaign. The off-the-cuff, not thoroughly-thought-through comment that gets picked up by the press and then swirls around the media impervious to all efforts to be put back in the box. But how can you make the best gaffes to guarantee the best headlines? Here are a few examples to follow…
5. Declare War Before You're Even Prime Minister
David Cameron — leader of the Opposition — expressed in leadership debates a desire to retain an independent nuclear arsenal because, "We don't know what is going to happen with Iran, we can't be certain of the future in China?" Because yes, that's what you want to do in an election campaign, suggest that you may want to go to war with a big emerging superpower that happens to have a hundred more warheads than you? The story of David and Goliath usually goes the other way in real life.
4. Remember: There Is No Down Side to the Internet and Gays Can Take a Joke
Yeah, yeah, this is meant to be a new media election now, every political party on Facebook, Bebo, Twitter and Chat Roulette probably. You know, trying to persuade men who want to show you their genitals that they are the party that will stand up for them!
But it has a dark and quite hilarious side, too. Labour MP candidate Stuart MacLennan, awaiting election in a safe Labour seat, torpedoed a burgeoning political career by tweeting about rivals and party leader, calling Leader of the House of Commons "an opportunist little tw*t," stating that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg could "f*ck right off if he thinks he's in the same league as Brown and Cameron" and calling fellow Labour MP "a f*cking idiot." Seconds later, he was booted out.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP candidate Philip Lardner has been disowned by his party after posting on his website that homosexuality was "not normal behaviour."
This was a month after the Conservative shadow Home Secretary and MP Chris Grayling stated that guest house owners should have the right to bar gay couples. And a number of pro-Conservative gay activists left the party telling people to swutch their votes to Labour.
C'mon, throwing hissy fits? Storming out? Bitching and taking revenge? Can we please stop fulfilling our stereotypes, everyone? It's not healthy for anyone.
3. Take Note that the Zoom Lenses on Cameras Are Mostly for Show
A Labour press conference that didn't have the right smattering of famous journalists drew the disdain of Labour MP and minister Yvette Cooper, who passed a note to Liam Byrne while her husband and fellow minister Ed Balls was addressing the hacks.
"It's clearly second division today — presumably that's why we're allowed to do this," she wrote in a note. Byrne replied "Sort of like being allowed to play in the sand pit."
At which point a photographer used his zoom lens on the paper and that was that.
2. Never Hire a Proof Reader
Blind Labour supporter found a photo of himself used on a Conservative candidate's leaflet. And didn't know for ages until a relative called him up to ask him what had happened. Yeah, you see, he's blind, so, who'd have thought he'd ever find out? Honest mistake, right? Turns out, though, he knows some people who aren't blind! Didn't think of that, did you?
Another Conservative candidate found not only his name misspelled on the headline to one of his own campaigning leaflets but that the rest of the text was left in the original template format, so he's referred to as Mr Forename throughout. Might as well change your surname to Foreman now, after that kind of publicity.
And a Conservative manifesto which included a map of Britain exclaiming "We're in this together" happened not to include a number of the Scottish Isles. Well, it's not like they were going to win any seats there, so why bother?
1. Insult the People Who Still Wanted to Vote for You
The biggest and the best. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland forgot he still had his radio mike on after getting into his car after a meet'n'greet with the public. He then called one of the women he'd just met — a committed Labour voter with slight concerns about immigration — a "bigoted woman." And he kindly made sure to do it within ear-and-eyeshot of cameras so that all the journalists could capture it and repeat it ad infinitum on the news channels. Gordon spent the day apologising and had to go to the woman's house and spend forty minutes giving a private apology. Well, third in the polls, Brown needs every vote he can get. But he seems to have lost a couple of million with this one.
Tags: Conservative Party (UK), David Cameron, Facebook, Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Internet, Labour Party (UK), LGBT, Liberal Democrat Party (UK), Nick Clegg, Racism, Twitter, United Kingdom