Category Archives: Elections UK 2015

Nobody saw it coming!

After the surprising events of the last twenty-four hours, the UK is still reeling: the Conservatives won outright despite the polls saying that they were neck and neck with Labour, the hung Parliament we had been led to believe was a foregone conclusion never materialised, the Liberal Democrats have been crushed, Labour has suffered a terrible defeat and the SNP have enjoyed a landslide victory in Scotland …

The bbc website and the major newspapers have all had live feeds and given extensive coverage. The Guardian’s coverage proved particularly good. Of course from a teaching point of view, Cameron’s first speech after the Conservative victory provides a lot of interesting discussion material, and a comparison of the resignation speeches by Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage (all on the same webpage as Cameron’s first speech) could also be fruitful.

In addition, The Guardian posted an interesting selection of front pages from British daily newspapers this morning. It not only provides a clear overview of where the individual papers stand politically (such as The Daily Mirror “Five more damn years”, The Daily Mail “Hallelujah! Britain votes for sanity” and The Daily Telegraph “Cameron triumphs on shock election night”) but also an interesting insight into the different types of newspapers and reporting styles on offer.

Once the dust has settled, let’s see how things start shaping up.

Miliband’s pledge stone

Things are heating up in the run-up to Thursday’s election. On 3rd May Ed Miliband unveiled a 2,5 metre high stone slab carved with Labour’s election promises. The slab was quickly taken up and parodied on social media, and was dubbed #edstone on Twitter.

Miliband defended it in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme saying, “Our pledges are carved in stone. I think trust is a huge issue in this election – the difference with our pledges is they are not going to expire on 8 May. Nick Clegg went into the last election saying he’d cut tuition fees – he trebled them. David Cameron went into the last election, saying ‘no ifs no buts – net migration into the tens of thousands’ – it’s 298,000. We’re setting out promises – they don’t expire on May 8. They don’t disappear.”

Interestingly, as ITV pointed out, the pledge stone did get everyone talking and engaging with Labour’s message …

The Daily Telegraph has a put together a concise video overview of possible outcomes, outlining how many seats the Tories or Labour need to win outright and which parties will be key in forming a coalition if neither party succeeds in getting an outright majority.

As the candidates now embark on whistle-stop tours round the country to try to garner last-minute votes, you can see what the pollsters are predicting here on at the May2015 website (run by the New Statesman political magazine).

And now all we can do is wait and see what happens on 7th May.

Campaign posters – UK elections

The UK election is looming and the campaign is heating up. All of the major newspapers have dedicated election sites which provide detailed information. However, if you’re looking for something for your students that covers the main policies and where the parties stand on them, then try the manifesto guide on the bbc website. It provides a lot of helpful background information and gives the students an insight into how the parties differ on key issues. There’s also a very concise overview of the actual events at the UK Parliament website.

It’s also interesting to have students look at and compare the posters created by the different parties. Here are links to some of the latest ones, as well as two from the past that have stood the test of time.

The original Conservative poster from 1979 has been varied in election campaigns ever since. It was based on a pun – people standing in a dole queue without a job that at the same time shows that the Labour employment policies were not working. Labour produced a different version of this for the 2015 campaign to make a point about NHS waiting times.

The Conservatives have used the image of a wrecking ball (a word students might be familiar with due to Miley Cyrus’s song) to show what they think will happen to the economy if Labour wins. A Spectator blog provides some information on how the poster was created. At the end there is a reference to the first Conservative Party poster for the 2015 election that featured a road representing the “road to recovery“. This poster was, however, widely mocked as it transpired that the photograph was based on a photoshopped photo of a road in Germany.

The Liberal Democrats have chosen a slogan that is familiar to children in the UK – how to cross a road: look left, look right, then cross. This is, of course, also intended to mean that people should look to the left (Labour) to the right (Tories) then put a cross for the LibDems. This poster, featuring Ed Balls (Labour, the Shadow Chancellor) and George Osbourne (Conservative, the Chancellor), shows that a Labour or Conservative government would “lurch economic policy dangerously to the left or the right” according to the LibDem website.

Another iconic poster was the one created by the Conservatives for the 2001 election campaign. It shows a pregnant Tony Blair. Again, it’s a great example of how language can work on different levels (labour = process of giving birth / the political party; to deliver a baby / promise).