2011: The accidental election

Gerry Kelly's collision with a getaway car full of robbery suspects after leaving a counting centre is just the latest in a series of mishaps, some more serious than others, which bedevilled the closing stages of the assembly election campaign.

We had the collapsing table, which sent ballot papers skimming in every direction, and the non-waterproof ballot boxes, the contents of which had to be dried out with a hairdryer.

Then there was Jim Wells, putting his collar bone out of place taking down some of his posters in South Down.

Going back as far as the selection conventions, a mix-up with mobile phones led to David McClarty listening to his answer phone and hearing an opponent label him a "spent force".

When the council campaign got under way, the Sinn Fein candidate Conor Maskey confessed to blasting a football straight into the face of the young son of a potential voter.

However the greatest stir, of course, was provoked by Peter Robinson's suitably self deprecatory account of his inadvertent plunge into the Koi carp fish pond in his back garden.

Can anyone out there think of a similar spate of political mishaps here or elsewhere?

The nearest I can remember is the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock getting his bum wet in the sea at Brighton back in 1983.

Or there are various George Bush incidents, from getting pooped on by a bird when he was about to address the press to the famous occasion in 2002 when the president choked on a pretzel.

Messrs Kinnock and Bush got exclusively negative publicity for their pratfalls, whereas the first minister won kudos for revealing something he could have kept secret, writing about it in an amusing manner and understanding that, if you are going to tweet, you should capture people's attention with an arresting anecdote not bore them with predictable propaganda.

Of course, it would have all been different if Mr Robinson had taken his tumble in front of the TV cameras.

Then the public might have laughed at him rather than with him.

And as Neil Kinnock discovered, being the object of ridicule is not advisable if you want to lead your party to an election victory.

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