It seems unlikely that the British Labour Party’s media-savvy communications team did not foresee the torrent of online reaction to leader Ed Miliband’s big campaign surprise: engraving six key election pledges in stone with the intention of planting the large grey slab in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street should he become prime minister after Thursday’s general election.
From Headstone to EdStone to Millstone to Tombstone… the opportunities for ridicule were plentiful and have been duly and enthusiastically grabbed worldwide.
It was a gift to those who argue that a Labour party airbrushed off the Scottish electoral map could only govern the UK by being in hock to the SNP. While others had a dig at Miliband’s refusal to accept that the last Labour government had overspent while in office:
Predictably, Labour’s head-to-head rivals the Conservatives quickly produced their own take of the EdStone (in fact they liked it so much they tweeted it twice):
CCHQ Press Office (@CCHQPress) 4 Mai 2015
Perhaps Miliband’s advisers were going on the assumption that it is better to be talked about than not talked about at all – while hoping that at least some of the original pledges stick in voters’ minds, perhaps gently tilting them to cast their ballots in his favour.
Evidently, any back-of-the-mind fears within the Miliband camp that Ed’s six-pack pledge-stone might just come back to haunt him, in a George Bush senior “Read My Lips: No More Taxes” kind of way, were brushed aside amid the immediate scramble to muster as many votes as possible.
Some, indeed, have adapted their own stone tablets to reinforce Labour’s message:
Certainly, any SNP jokers at Miliband’s expense could justifiably be reminded that their party had set a precedent in the stone-engraving stakes, and that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones…
However, playtime with the EdStone has not been restricted to electoral foes. Even in The Guardian – which is backing Labour at the election – one commentator lamented that Miliband’s carved pledges could sink like a stone. “There’s not a single part of this stone that doesn’t say brain-dead,” says John Crace. “If Moses had come down from Mount Sinai with a tablet of commandments as dopey as this, the whole history of religion would have had to be rewritten.”
You can do your own fake EdStone with this generator.
Meanwhile here is a sample of the variety already on offer: