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Liberal Democrat Party Election Broadcast (1 May 2005)

Courtesy of the Liberal Democrat Party

Main image of Liberal Democrat Party Election Broadcast (1 May 2005)
Tx. 1/5/2005, 3 mins, colour
SponsorThe Liberal Democrat Party
CommentatorSandi Toksvig

Party election broadcast by the Liberal Democrats focusing on their opposition to the war in Iraq.

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If most election broadcasts don't make great TV, then that is true in spades for broadcasts by the Liberal Democrats. The production values are often noticeably poorer than in broadcasts produced by the other parties, simply because Lib Dems - like their various predecessor parties - don't have as much money. Lib Dem broadcasts often look cheap because they are cheap. As a result, the party sometimes has to be more innovative, as with the famous John Cleese broadcast of 1985, or this broadcast from the 2005 election.

The majority of the broadcast is a re-telling of Aesop's fable about the boy who cried wolf, voiced by Lib Dem supporter Sandi Toksvig. The boy crying wolf wears a red tie. He persuades another boy - Howie, who is wearing a blue tie - that the wolf exists by showing him pictures of sheep, arguing that disguising themselves as sheep is exactly what wolves do. At the end, when no wolf - or even 'wolf-related activities' - are found, the boy refuses to apologise, and drives away in a car with the number-plate 'WMD 0'.

Subtle, it isn't. This was the last Lib Dem election broadcast of the 2005 campaign, and it played to the party's trump card: its opposition to the Iraq war, as the only one of the three main parties to have opposed the conflict from the beginning. While the Conservatives tried to attack Tony Blair on the issue, accusing him of dishonesty in the run-up to war, they often struggled to land blows given their unqualified support for the conflict in 2003.

Iraq didn't rank especially highly among most voters' key issues (one study placed it 11th out of 12th on a list of voters' concerns at the start of the campaign), but it dominated much of the media coverage of the election, and grew in importance as the campaign went on. Labour's own polling estimated that the party lost 2-3% of its vote in the last week of the campaign, mostly to the Lib Dems, and a poll after the election found that one quarter of Lib Dem voters said that they would have voted Labour 'but for Iraq'.

The press conference scenes were filmed outside the British Academy, in Carlton House Terrace, formerly the home of the great Liberal Prime Minister, W.E. Gladstone. It's difficult to imagine what he would have made of it.

Philip Cowley

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Video Clips
Complete broadcast (2:49)
Party Election Broadcasts