Pub Landlord election bid orders round of surprise
Pint-quaffing character’s challenge to UKIP bucks trend of familiarity in early stages of election campaign
It’s unlikely you’ve missed the first flush of election fever. Party political adverts are cropping up, the news is filling with persuasive rhetoric and leaders are already having lengthy debates about the debates that may – or may not – happen on TV this summer. This week, though, there was one story that stood out from the usual fog of political media, and it certainly wasn’t an expected one.
On Wednesday, comedian Al Murray announced that he would stand in the Thanet South election against UKIP’s Nigel Farage. What made this all the more unusual was that Al Murray is actually standing as his character the Pub Landlord, who – according to Wikipedia – is “a mock-xenophobic but stereotypical publican”.
Murray has formed the Free Unity Kingdom Party (FUKP) and his agent Dan Lloyd told the BBC that “it’s definitely happening”. In a jibe clearly aimed at Farage, the Pub Landlord said: “It seems to me that the UK is ready for a bloke waving a pint around, offering common sense solutions.”
His party logo is even a loose copy of UKIP’s branding, which also uses a pound sign, but in an upturned form. On its website, FUKP’s slogan states: “The other parties offer a moon on a stick. We’ll do better than that: a British moon on a British stick.”
In his official video, Murray says: “the reason I’m standing is because the system is broken – we all know it is. You hear people saying you shouldn’t vote, well you should vote”. The first of FUKP’s numerous “common sense pledges” was a 1p pint.
Farage seemed to take the news well – tweeting “The more, the merrier! @almurray” – and one of UKIP’s spokespeople commented, “At last, serious competition in the constituency.”
In terms of grabbing the headlines, Al Murray’s election plans have scored a direct hit. What are not quite so clear at this stage are how long, or how seriously, he will continue to fight for coverage and poke fun at UKIP.
Will Edwards is managing director of media training consultancy Bluewood Training.