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.
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
Last week I mentioned that as a result of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's storming performance on the live televised Leader's Debate (if only as a result of him not being leader of the Conservatives or the Labour Party) that the knives would be out for him.
And with the second leadership debate on air tonight in the UK, that prediction had proved correct.
Most of the main newspapers in Britain are conservative ones — and conservative in the way that make Fox News look like Air America. And, today, all the front pages of all these newspapers, selling millions of copies across the country, have been going to war with Nick Clegg. Waking up to them, his wife might as well have tipped his breakfast in bed over his head (including the scalding coffee) as hand him the papers.
Old warhorse, The Daily Mail led with a front page splash "Clegg Nazi Slur on Britain" and referred to an eight-year-old newspaper article it had unearthed in which Clegg talked of Britain, saying: "A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place." That, however, wasn't good enough for The Mail. It unloaded two further barrels into the Clegg camapign, first alleging that Clegg had accepted payments from donors for his own personal bank account to pay towards a researcher, and then that Hilary Stephenson — Mr Clegg's campaigns and elections director — was responsible for encouraging expenses scams.
Tags: Conservative Party (UK), Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), LGBT, Liberal Democrat Party (UK), Nick Clegg, United Kingdom
I have not, until now, said much about Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third most prominent party standing in the UK General Election next month. And that's because… there's just so little to say. He's a man whose greatest claim to fame is that he boasted of thirty lovers in a men's magazine interview.
The Liberal Democrats are often seen as a kind of nothing party with no real reason to exist. Emerging from the classic Liberal Party of the nineteenth and twentieth century that was pushed aside by the socialist movement of the Labour Party, then bolstered by splitters from Labour, its greatest asset is being neither the Conservative nor the Labour party.
It's never going to have enough votes to form a government. Which has given successive leaders the chance to come up with whatever policies they want, safe in the knowledge they'll never have to implement them.
Except this election might be a little different.
Tags: Indecision Internationale, Liberal Democrat Party (UK), Nick Clegg, United Kingdom
Most Americans knew who Tony Blair was. Hardly anyone has a clue who Gordon Brown is. And most Britons are happy to keep it that way.
Are you familiar with the Peter Principle? It states that an employee who is good at their job will keep getting promoted until they are no good at their job. And that’s where they stay, one level above their competence. And entire businesses can be full of them.
They don’t all make it to Prime Minister though.
Gordon Brown would have been well remembered as a rather good Chancellor of the Exchequer, the man in charge of the money, who presided over growth, low inflation, low interest rates and low unemployment. But he wanted to be Prime Minister so badly. Indeed, he made a deal with Tony Blair when negotiating over the leadership of the Labour Party that Brown would support Blair in that position, if Blair would step down after a certain period of time for Brown to take over.
Tags: Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), United Kingdom
American politics can get kind of exhausting, can't it? Sometimes it's nice to peer across the pond where the bobbies take the lift up to their flats to use the loo. Did you know that they have politics there, too? In fact, they're getting ready to have their first General Election since 2005. Here's some limey named Rich Johnston to wrap it all up for us.
It's off. The United Kingdom General Election has been announced. This morning Prime Minister of Great Britain And Northern Ireland, Gordon Brown (you know, the bloke who stepped in after Tony Blair decided he wanted to go on holiday) took a cab to Buckingham Palace this morning to see the Queen (she had a bit of a headache after a night partying on meow-meow) and ask her to dissolve Parliament (along with a couple of soluble aspirin) in readiness for a General Election on May 6th.
They say the past is a foreign country, people do things differently over there. Well Britain is a foreign country in the past. A modern democracy, it is tied into a feudal, monarchical system that it does its best to ignore yet never quite managing to. Just as America seems to value the interpreted opinions of the Founding Fathers over all — despite a number of them being racists, paedophiles and downright loons — so Britain looks to the Royal Family for all sorts of guidance, despite them being inbred German idiots.
But rather than the two-year campaign which seems to dominate presidential politics in the US, Britain gets those two years condensed down into a mere one month's notice. As if we were just an employee in a call centre — and that's not far from the truth. The Prime Minister can basically call a General Election any time he or she fancies, up to five years between. In theory, this enables the ruling party to choose the best time to hold an election to ensure their re-election. In practice, it means politicians eek it out, clinging to power until they are forced screaming from office in mad terror.
Tags: David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), Nick Clegg, Queen Elizabeth, Tony Blair, United Kingdom