Election 2015

Election 2015: Mugs, merchandise and social media

Image copyright Getty Images

The 2015 general election campaign has begun and already there's plenty of merchandise from the parties. Social media has rallied to review the parties' swag.

Over the last few days we've seen opposing fates for two Labour offerings: a mug and a top.

Image copyright Labour, Thom Pizzey
Image caption Labour, Lib Dems and Greens have been unhappy with the Pledge 4 mug (left)

Storm in a teacup

On Saturday, Labour launched a range of scarlet mugs, five of which proclaim one of the party's election pledges. The fourth of these five, bearing the standard, "Controls on Immigration", has riled some Liberal Democrats and Greens on Twitter and Facebook.

The terms Labour and mug have been tweeted more than 7,000 times over the past 72 hours. And, in the past 24 hours, the same terms have been widely used on Facebook.

Giles Goodall, a Liberal Democrat candidate, tweeted that Labour had joined "Ukip's race to the bottom on immigration", while Green Party member Thom Pizzey responded by photo-editing a similar beverage holder in a near-chartreuse and emblazoned with the slogan, "Standing up for migrants. I'm voting GREEN on 7th May."

Pizzey's image has been tweeted 30 times, including by Josiah Mortimer, co-editor at the Bright Green blog, whose own tweet was retweeted 135 times and favourited 95 times. The Green mug is available from the party website, "exact design TBC".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The New Statesman highlighted Stephen Bush's opinion about the mug

The red mug has also caused consternation within the Labour parliamentary party. Diane Abbott, not always a quiet or line-toeing member, took to Twitter to call the mug "an embarrassment" and add the "real problem is that immigration controls are one of our five pledges at all".

Owen Jones, Guardian columnist, appealed for "hope" and for Labour to "scrap your Farage wannabe mugs" while Stephen Bush of the New Statesman's political blog The Staggers said the worst thing about the red flagon is it "isn't even a gaffe". Between them, the sentiments of Abbott, Jones, Bush and the New Statesman regarding Labour's crockery have amassed 2,242 retweets and 1,551 favourited tweets.

Hell's new man

By contrast, Labour has done better with its apparel line.

The party is offering a T-shirt, in exchange for a £15 donation, to make the most of Ed Miliband's soundbite from his television interview with Jeremy Paxman on Thursday night: "Hell yes, I'm tough enough to be PM".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Labour activists were pleased with Mr Miliband's "hell yes" response

As the party says on its blog post which launched the t-shirt: "Really, how could we not?"

The response on Twitter seems to show this idea played better than the red mug. The #hellyes epithet received well over 4,000 tweets in the past 72 hours.

#hellyes also gained traction with more popular pro-Labour social media terminology. It was shared in 906 tweets with the #milibandmustwin term, itself used more than 50,000 times since Thursday. Of those tweets, 120 have carried an image of the crimson crew-neck.

And, unlike the mug, it has the backing of Labour figures online, including a retweet from Alastair Campbell and a post from Karl Turner, MP for East Hull until Monday morning.

Written by Richard Irvine-Brown

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