On the campaign trail – The funny, strange and surreal of Britain’s #GeneralElection

| December 13, 2019
Britain’s election campaign has delivered funny, strange and surreal moments, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit-branded boxing to a stranded train full of journalists on their way to a speech about rail investment, write William James and Kylie MacLellan.

Here are some the highlights from six weeks of cross-country campaigning:

DELIVERING THE MESSAGE (11 December)

What do a donut, a digger, boxing gloves and a scarf have in common? All have been printed, painted, woven or iced with the Conservative election slogan “Get Brexit Done”.

It is not unusual for political parties to come up with one or two central campaign messages and plaster them across lecterns, placards and buses.

But while Labour’s “Time for real change” and “For the many, not the few” slogans have appeared in the usual places, Johnson’s Conservatives have gone to greater lengths to try and ensure their message gets through.

On a whistle-stop final day of campaigning Johnson added a few more to the list: a branded apron worn while making a pie and a milk crate used to make a delivery to a voter’s house.

GOVERNMENT BORROWING UP (3 December)

Johnson’s efforts to stimulate the economy in the English city of Salisbury ran out of cash.

Touring local businesses at a Christmas market, Johnson visited a butcher and helped out at one stall, serving up sweets in front of the cameras.

But the prime minister, whose Conservatives have cast themselves as the party of fiscal discipline, came unstuck when he tried to pay for chocolate brownies.

Fumbling through his wallet, Johnson had to ask his team for a loan. “I’m out of cash” he said. “I lashed out on some sausages earlier on and it cleaned me out!”

CORBYN’S LITTLE RED BOOK (3 December)

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, carries a little red book with him all over the country.

Not the collection of quotations from communist leader Mao Zedong – once brandished in parliament by Corbyn’s would-be finance minister – but a handwritten diary of knowledge he has picked up on the election trail.

“The wisdom that is there amongst people all over the country is something that absolutely inspires me, I go around with a notebook everywhere,” he said during a television interview.

His interviewer on chat show This Morning asked: “What are you going to write about us?”

He replied: “What a charming morning I am having, what wonderful Christmas decorations you’ve got.”

THE CASE FOR RAIL INVESTMENT (7 November)

British Finance Minister Sajid Javid tore up the spending rules by promising to pump billions into upgrading the country’s schools, hospitals, roads and railways.

Shortly before his speech was due to start, word went around from a Conservative Party official that the start of the event in the northern English city of Manchester would have to be delayed – problems on the railway had left the travelling press pack stranded miles from the venue.

SIGNED, SEALED… DELIVERED? (22 November)

When is a manifesto not a manifesto? Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage says it is when it’s a ‘contract with the people’.

Farage eschewed the campaign tradition of a manifesto launch, a glitzy media event to promote a book of policies the party wants to implement if it wins power.

Instead, he invited journalists, left a small book of his policies on each seat and made a grand entrance to a thumping soundtrack (‘Power’ by Kanye West).

“This is not a manifesto, because a word association test for manifesto gave us the word ‘lies’,” he said. “It’s a contract with the people.”

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Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, Conservative Party, EU, Greens, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Nigel Farage, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party, UK

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