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General Election 2024: How Ed Davey seized political stunts crown from Boris Johnson | Politics News

After launching his party’s general election manifesto, Sir Ed Davey jumped on a rollercoaster and rode on a big swing.

His aim: to show the Liberal Democrats are on a rollercoaster ride to gaining seats, with a big swing to the party from the Tories.

Sir Ed’s visit to Thorpe Park, in Surrey, was just the latest in a gallery of wacky and often silly election stunts and photo-ops that have gained him priceless publicity.

In this election campaign he’s confirmed his status as the king of the photo-ops. Remind you of anyone? Yes, he’s snatched that title from Boris Johnson.

Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson wears boxing gloves emblazoned with "Get Brexit Done" as he poses for a photograph at Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy in Manchester north-west England on November 19, 2019, during a general election campaign trip. - Britain will go to the polls on December 12, 2019 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. (Photo by Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson wears boxing gloves

Being the third party in an election – or fourth, given that the Lib Dems won fewer seats than the SNP in 2019 – can be a frustrating experience.

Inevitably, it’s the two big parties that dominate column inches in the newspapers and airtime on radio and TV. So attention-grabbing requires cunning and imagination.

And Sir Ed has certainly shown just that. The result is that he and his party have not been squeezed out or flattened by the Tory and Labour juggernauts in election coverage.

Lib Dem leader goes down waterslide
Sir Ed Davey down a waterslide

To be fair, there have been some serious messages too.

His speech without notes at his manifesto launch was slick. And a TV election broadcast about caring for his disabled son was emotional and powerful.

But it’s for his eccentric stunts in this campaign that Sir Ed will probably be remembered.

He’s been drenched in Lake Windermere, soaked on a water slide, served up a game of tennis and taken a bumpy cycle ride.

He claims his stunts aren’t just for fun, but to make a political point. For example, he made a splash in Lake Windermere to highlight his party’s campaign against sewage in the UK’s rivers, lakes and coastlines.

Read more:
Lib Dems pledge to rejoin EU’s single market
Why Lib Dems manifesto is less ambitious than before

Pic: Reuters
British leader of the Liberal Democrats party Ed Davey falls from a paddle board, at Lake Windermere in Windermere, Britain, May 28, 2024. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Falling from a paddle board at Lake Windermere. Pic: Reuters

We got a foretaste of Sir Ed’s clever stunts when the Lib Dems celebrated some of their spectacular by-election wins: knocking down a blue wall, firing a confetti cannon and driving a “Tory removal van”.

The Lib Dems are determined to smash through the 'Blue Wall'
The Lib Dems are determined to smash through the ‘blue wall’. Pic: PA

Boris Johnson became the king of political stunts during his years as London mayor, in the Brexit campaign in 2016 and his 2019 general election campaign.

Who can forget the zip wire farce, kissing a giant fish, knocking down a wall and wearing boxing gloves to “get Brexit done”?

Boris Johnson walks away after driving a Union flag-themed JCB through a fake wall emblazoned with the word "Gridlock"
Boris Johnson walks away after driving a Union flag-themed JCB. Pic: PA

Boris Johnson hanging from a zipwire. Pic: PA
Boris Johnson hanging from a zipwire. Pic: PA

But the crown has now passed to Sir Ed, though that other extrovert political campaigner, Nigel Farage, is a close second, after posing for photos in a D-Day jeep last week.

Just don’t mention the milkshake.

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The Battle for Number 10, a UK Election Leaders’ Special Event, will air from Grimsby on Sky News on Wednesday.

Sir Ed, however, should be applauded not only for brightening up the campaign and giving us all a good laugh, but also for using his often-silly stunts to convey a serious political message. Well done!

And there are still 24 days left for more stunts and photo-ops before polling day.

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