Election 2015

Election 2015: Parties accentuate the negative

Labour leader Ed Miliband (left) and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon - 9 April 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (right) has come under fire for an attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband

Thursday was seen as the day the 2015 UK general election campaign turned negative, with many reacting on social media to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon's attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband.

It also made for some uneasy bedfellows, with one Labour candidate, Toby Perkins, using a widely tweeted picture and quote from Margaret Thatcher to register his opposition to personal attacks.

Image copyright Stephen Fottrell

Mr Miliband said the defence secretary had demeaned himself and his office. But Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Fallon was "absolutely right".

A glance through the social media accounts of established political party names and official accounts also reveals a good deal of negative campaigning.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has been leading some of the Conservative attacks via social media, with tweets such as this one:

Image copyright Stephen Fottrell
Image caption Mayor of London and Conservative candidate Boris Johnson has been leading some of the Tory attacks on social media

John Prescott, Labour's former deputy prime minister and prolific tweeter, has also been targeting candidates from his party's opponents.

Image copyright Stephen Fottrell

The Liberal Democrats have also been tweeting their own targeted videos.

Image copyright Stephen Fottrell

With weeks to go in one of the tightest polls in living memory, there may yet be further negative campaigning, but whether it gets quite as personal as previous campaigns - such as these examples below - remains to be seen.

In 2001, Labour was seeking a second term under Tony Blair. It targeted the Conservative leader William Hague by planting Baroness Thatcher's hairstyle on his head, in one of the most notorious campaign posters in living memory. Labour went on to win re-election by a landslide.

Image copyright PA

Creative photoshopping had already been used by its opponents in 1996, when the Conservatives unveiled this "demon eyes" poster of Tony Blair a year ahead of the 1997 election, which saw Labour sweep to power.

Image copyright PA

Compiled by Stephen Fottrell.

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