We can’t go on like this…
(Or: why we won’t be spoofing the next Conservative poster)
Update: Following publication of the article below, many of you have been in touch to urge us not to close the site. We have no intention of closing it – and are still adding spoofs of the existing poster campaigns. But we are looking at alternative ideas for the future, rather than parodying every ad campaign.
By Clifford Singer
Oh, those naughty Tories. Stealing our ideas about co-ops (and messing them up in the process) was bad enough. But stealing our ideas about spoof posters (and messing them up in the process) is simply unpardonable.
Shortly after we spoofed the first Tory election poster, I acknowledged that this project had a limited shelf-life. And so the fact that the Tories are now trying to get in on the joke can only suggest one thing: we’ve reached our sell-by date.
At the start, we weren’t even sure we were going to take our spoofs beyond the first poster. But when that ridiculous tombstone appeared, we just couldn’t resist. And then when Tory bloggers promised the latest campaign would be “unspoofable” – well, how could we say no? We’ve also been overwhelmed by the support and activity that’s gone on all over the internet, from the 38 pages of spoofs on Mumsnet to the work of people like Andy Barefoot, creator of our poster generators, and talented graphic artist Beau Bo D’Or. In the six weeks since we launched, we’ve had more than 250,000 unique visitors and received more than 1,500 posters.
So why stop now? Here are three reasons:
- The spoofs have a life of their own. Within minutes of the most recent “I’ve never voted Tory” posters arriving, there were several other websites and Facebook groups putting up their own parodies, and a highly popular Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ivenevervotedtory
- The law of diminishing returns. So far, we’ve been impressed - and surprised - by the high quality of contributions throughout the second and third poster campaigns. But the idea may start to feel tired if we keep doing the same thing each time round.
- The danger of playing into Tory hands. Some right-wing commentators, including Ian Dale and Tim Montgomerie, have suggested that we benefit Cameron by spreading his posters virally - irrespective of our anti-Tory spin. I’ve explained previously why I disagree - and it’s been pleasing to see our spoofs coincide with a shift in the political mood away from Cameron, as the Tories repeatedly blunder and come under greater media scrutiny. But Dale and Montgomerie could become right over time: as the mock posters become more ubiquitous - and everyone and their dog joins in - our anti-Tory message may become more blunted.
This last point is pure conjecture - on both our part and theirs (and if the right really think our parodies are so ineffective, why are they so keen to imitate us?). So I’m certainly not suggesting that the ad spoofs cease - and we’ll happily promote those sites that display them (although, utilising MyDavidCameron’s new-found authority to sound like a patronising uncle, I would advise those doing it on the left to ensure the parodies stay funny and politically sharp - and leave the nasty stuff to our opponents).
But for us it’s time to move on. We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeves but they are still highly confidential (aka they’re still so half-baked that we can’t really put them into words). In the meantime, be sure to vote for your favourite posters - we’ll be showcasing the best on our revamped home page soon, and we still have some great unpublished spoofs waiting to go live. And please do use the comments form below to let us know your thoughts on what we’ve done so far, what we should do next, and on the wider issues around online campaigning.
Posted 19 February 2010, 11.50am
Thanks for the good times, Clifford - a good time to stop.
May we only ever mean ‘piss merchant’ when we say PM to David Cameron.
You brought politics to the people.
Posted by Jo Wood at 05:14pm on 19 February 2010
‘You brought politics to the people’
So sayeth the wise Jo Wood. She’s spot on, MyDavidCameron.com through good and the bad has helped bring some life to the campaign, attract attention from all directions and (most importantly) led the way in making David Cameron look as daft to the public as he always has to the more politically aware Tory haters.
Posted by Jamie Khan at 05:21pm on 19 February 2010
As Jo Wood says, thanks for the good times, it was fun while it lasted.
Posted by Mark Wadsworth at 06:03pm on 19 February 2010
The ‘I’ve never voted Tory but’ poster parodies had made great coverage, both online, and nationally. They had spread across all manner of social networks and news sites, from Facebook to New Statesman. But I did wonder if this was exactly what the Tories wanted with the redesign of their posters?
That half sentence; “I’ve never voted Tory, but” pleads for defacement louder than a whitewash wall in the middle of a rough estate. The doctoring of the posters helped elevate public interest in the original campaign to levels well above what our political apathy often allows for, and at far lesser cost.
I wrote my full 10 cents over at http://chameleonpr.com. One thing really interesting about this week was the noise it made on Twitter, with both #ivenevervotedtory and #ivenevervotedlabour trending heavily.
Very interesting campaign, which I think all parties will take note too.
Posted by Brad Jordan at 06:12pm on 19 February 2010
Not only has this been one of the most exciting examples of collaborative creativity UK politics has ever seen, but by showing wisdom in knowing when to stop (and judgment in calling for restraint in petty nastiness), you also celebrate the power of people who know not to seek power for power’s sake. Good work!
Posted by Becky Luff at 06:14pm on 19 February 2010
This is a ridiculous display of political maturity and integrity, and you should be ashamed of yourself. What will become of the cut and thrust and general nastiness of politics if everyone starts acting like you? Have you no shame, no thought for the consequences of your excellent sense of balance? This is a sad day for filthy political muck-raking at the expense of genuine ‘progressive’ policy.
Posted by Paul Cotterill at 06:29pm on 19 February 2010
Oh Paul Cotterill, lighten up. This website exists because of the damage done to politics by politicians. Satire will continue to survive long after the massed ranks of professional politicians have vanished to their think tanks.
Posted by Liam at 06:33pm on 19 February 2010
You certainly have an elevated view of yourself or your site as if you invented the idea of spoofing and everyone else has copied you!
Every poster has been spoofed since the dawn of Paint (or whatever you lefty mac users have) and yes, they are ineffectual, but it’s fun. Fun is important so although you may have been sitting up their trying to concoct a spoof with intent to harm, everyone else is just having a laugh, so perhaps it’s good that you stop and get out some more.
Posted by Percy at 06:33pm on 19 February 2010
I think you’ve got your timing spot on. Cleese and Gervais knew when to call it a day - when the audience is gagging for more.
Posted by Chris T at 06:34pm on 19 February 2010
I cannot believe that anyone with the slightest modicum of intelligence really wants Gordon Brown back in power?
It’s beyond parody he and the party really are dysfunctional and need to be out of power for some time. Surely you can see that?.
Posted by Curbishly at 06:40pm on 19 February 2010
@Curbishly You’re obviously not old enough to remember the last time that the awful shower that is the Tory Party did their level best to destroy all that is good about this country.
Posted by Chris T at 06:43pm on 19 February 2010
@Curbishly to clarify, 15% interest rates, 4m unemployed, public services starved of investment, “back to basics”, section 28, Tebbit’s “cricket test”, manufacturing industry destroyed etc. Labour is by no means perfect, but compared to the Tories…well, personally I shudder to think of them running the country again. What we need is voting reform and then the natural centre-left majority in this country can keep the “nasty party” out of power for even longer.
Posted by Chris T at 06:52pm on 19 February 2010
It’s been fun but I agree it’s a good time to stop. And you can stop nicking my gags now.
Posted by Andy Nix at 07:03pm on 19 February 2010
Im a conservative but great website. Thanks for doing it!!!
Posted by michael at 07:54pm on 19 February 2010
I think the posters have been a lot of fun and very ammusing. I think it is right to stop at a stage when people are still intrigued by them.
By the way, has anyone else seen Call Me Dave’s greenhouse campaign on YouTube? Just type in David Cameron and you’ll see it on his web shows, complete with recycling bin, trellis fencing and plastic garden chairs. And the standard white shirt, no jacket look, of course. All part of the ‘I’ve never Voted Tory’ campaign. I’m not sure if the Conservatives have done research into what a non-Tory voter’s garden looks like, or whether Cameron just assumes normal people’s gardens look like that!
Posted by Simon at 07:56pm on 19 February 2010
Jesus, this was hilarious.
Harden up Clif. Grow a pair.
Posted by Paul at 07:56pm on 19 February 2010
Your website has provided me with the always enjoyable experience of having my anti-Tory prejudices reinforced. There’s nothing like a bit of savage satire to hit back at David “Call me Dave” Cameron and his fellow crypto-Thatcherites. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next!
Posted by susan clements at 08:23pm on 19 February 2010
An incredibly wise and well thought decision, if this continued, it could help the Tories, as mentioned in the article. And by keeping it fresh and not letting the idea go stale, this project will be remembered favourably. Thanks a lot for the laughs,
Posted by Ragulan Vigneswaran at 10:43pm on 19 February 2010
I remember the last conservative government, I was very very scared, even my true blue Dad turned into a Liberal.
There’s a vast difference between labour’s overwhelmed and tired and out and out savage viscious evil selfish beligerant pompous arrogant greedy incompetance.
International Economic Chaos and Cameron wants to go foxhunting instead ? Tallyho lads - crisis what crisis ? Tallyho!
May the wrath of Mary Poppins spank him into obscurity!
Posted by cameronxxxx at 12:44am on 20 February 2010
Clifford - thanks to you and your, erm, friends at MyDavidCameron.com. Just remember “tweet a fighting socialist alternative”
Posted by Betty Snake at 02:15am on 20 February 2010
Thanks for putting life into the campaign. For most of us apolitical types we look at what happens on the ground. In West Berkshire the Liberals screwed us on poor services and the Council Tax - the Tories got in because they stabilised Council Tax and improved services. Labour got zero votes in about 10 wards - they just aren’t relevant. People don’t care about Brown and Cameron they care what happens locally. Currently the “I haven’t voted Labour before” posters are funnier than the ones you displayed…that will probably change several times over the next couple of months. Does it matter? Again thanks for the laughs.
Posted by Nash at 09:18am on 20 February 2010
Is there any truth in the rumour that, if the Tories win, Cameron will rename 10 Downing Street “Wisteria Cottage”?
Posted by Zeno at 03:17pm on 20 February 2010
I suppose enough is enough. Plus I am confusing my overseas readers with my enthusiasm for the spoofs. I know it comes from a dodgy source but the idiot son saying something to the effect (I haven’t got it in front of me) of ‘I’ve never voted Labour but they always did what I told them’ was pretty on the money. Maybe an illustration of the thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters principle…
Posted by white rabbit at 07:44pm on 20 February 2010
...and thanks for the laughs, hope and posters.
Posted by Philip Painter at 11:39pm on 20 February 2010
you’ve got our attention, you’ve got the media’s attention - now expose the lack of commitment they have to spell out their policies, because their polices are nothing but old school tory.
when i ask friends what cameron’s family friendly policies are - they don’t know. They fall for the gloss and spin and you’ve exposed that - now expose the hollow empty rotting inside… (if I knew how I’d be doing it in a shot)
Thank you and good luck x
Posted by Phoebe at 12:13am on 21 February 2010
Cameron’s now claiming that the Conservative’s are the ‘party for everyone’ on his latest webcameron on YouTube, if anyone’s interested in taking a look.
I’m not sure if this means before or after the cuts, whether he means every millionaire who will save thousands in inheritance tax, every fox hunter or everyone who thinks we should be on the fringes of Europe!
Posted by Simon at 01:47am on 21 February 2010
Thank you so much for all the comments.
Becky L: “this has been one of the most exciting examples of collaborative creativity UK politics has ever seen”. What, just the UK??
Percy: us “lefty mac users” actually hand-draw everything and then scan it in. We invented scanning too.
Chris T: Cleese and Gervais - I hope you’re not referring to that Orange ad and “The Invention of Lying”
Andy N: I don’t know what you could be referring to.
Michael: You’re the sort of Conservative we like (apart from the policies)
White Rabbit: Is this the one - http://bit.ly/9wUOUl Yup: Tories manage to produce funny spoof shock!
Phoebe: “when i ask friends what cameron’s family friendly policies are - they don’t know”. We’ve still got some more posters lined up on this theme - not quite finished yet…
Posted by Clifford Singer at 02:33pm on 21 February 2010
Cheers Clifford - the site has been very entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of the production of spoof posters (of all parties) during the election campaign.
Posted by Kyle at 11:41pm on 21 February 2010
Excellent idea now exhausted in its Tory-ness.
SO when is there the promised Labour site to diss the pompous wonks of Browndom…
” Labour - a future fear for all ” ( and I KNOW you’ll do better….)
Posted by John Ross at 04:49am on 22 February 2010
Hardly seems fair to stop now that Labour’s bad ads are up. A future fair for all. Not likely.
Posted by Cameron at 03:09pm on 22 February 2010
At first i was really pleasantly surprised by your posters, but then i began to think that the Tory advertisers were actually very Social-media-savvy and had created the original posters to be easily editable in order to generate the sort of viral success that your posters have had. Apologies for thinking that you may have been propogating a Tory advertising drive, but the elemetns of the Tory posters were made so easily editable that anybody with a version of Microsoft Paint could make a reasonable go of superimposing some comedic text on the image.
Now it seems that the Tory advertisers, far from being Social-media-savvy, are simply poor. And their latest attempt to send-up labour posters has desperate ‘Johhny-come-lately’ feel to it.
Congrats on your campaign, but i too would share the fear of playing into Tory hands…
Posted by Paul at 03:20pm on 22 February 2010
I have never laughed so hard for such a long time…...thanks for that.
Posted by Justin at 04:37am on 23 February 2010
this is the only way I have found so far of rebranding the Tories as themselves, keep this light on please, its the only hope we have!
Posted by Greg Dance at 09:14pm on 23 February 2010
Thanks for all the laughs! XD
Posted by Miranda Fox at 01:47am on 24 February 2010
Hey, it’s been great fun. My lunch break has been a laugh a minute. Hurry up and get your ideas together - we need more. I’ll finish with the words from one of my favourite songs “Don’t stop now, we’re having such a good time, we’re having a ball”
Posted by J Steer at 02:44am on 24 February 2010
For everyone who thinks the Tories might have been nearly clever to try to start a viral campaign with the spoofs carrying their message further afield: I really doubt it. Near where I live there was a billboard with the “I’ve never voted Tory but…” with the subsequent platitude painted out and the phrase “...because I am not a complete [c-word expletive often meaning a very silly person indeed].” I saw it from a car and rushed home to get a camera to take a picture but even in that short time, the billboard had been painted over. Maybe it was the offensive expletive, more likely the advertisers think they own the public sphere and won’t tolerate political back-talk. In any case, neither the Tories nor the owners of the billboard wanted too many people to see that spoof.
The PR virus is more likely in the photos, where the problem the Conservatives face is to create images of British normality that their more rabid wing can identify with without alienating people who haven’t, indeed, voted Tory. The words on the Tory posters are really just banal chatter; the virus is in the images. This is why the spoofs work so well: the words in the spoofs subvert the images.
Posted by Matt at 08:08pm on 26 February 2010
Posted by Sharon at 06:04am on 27 February 2010
Fantastic run and I personally contribute the shift from right to centre not because of politics but because of the colossal screw up of that first poster which was so easy to deface which many people did (both via great sites like this or in some cases directly on the conservative paid space). So I want to say thank you for bringing us the funnies and the underlying political message.
Posted by Carl Ollerhead at 12:07am on 1 March 2010
Brilliant work you’ve done here - we first saw it in the newspapers and I’ve only just gotten around to checking the site out.
It’s a shame that you’re not making anymore, but I think you got your point across wonderfully (:
Posted by Lizzee C at 05:31pm on 1 March 2010
Well Done, Clifford you animated and re-animated Vox Pop - Keep the faith !
Posted by Danny at 03:16am on 3 March 2010
Refreshing, so funny….and wonderful to see Dave´s complacency and saelf-satisfaction punctured.
Not a Gordon fan…but honestly if Tories were back then its the end of the UK (Scotland will do a runner to a left wing party)
Posted by jennifer conway at 10:30pm on 4 March 2010
Please keep the site open, even if you aren’t doing any more spoofs!
Posted by Daniel at 02:21am on 5 March 2010
Please come back all is forgiven - see the new Tory poster? It has GB with his hand full of money from unions supposedly
WHAT about a new poster with Cashcroft with Dave tucked under one arm and Haig (dressed as a schoolboy with cap) under the other.
Dave’s mouth is stuffed with money and Cashcroft could be saying; MAKING MY MONEY WORK FOR ME or GET STUFFED, DAVE, BRTAIN IS MINE ALL MINE,NOW! Haig is reciting 500 times I MUST NOT BLAB; I MUST NOT BLAB; I MUST NOT BLAB!I want
another idea is to have Cashcroft using Dave and Osborne like a pair of Marracas
I wanna now buy A-me-ri-ca; I wanna now buy A-me-rica (in the style of Carmen Miranda)
Posted by Hookie at 05:50pm on 16 March 2010
“I’ve never voted Tory but this website is great”
Posted by Henry W at 10:29pm on 17 March 2010
You don’t need to spoof the latest picture anyway. Can anyone say they honestly didn’t immediately just think of Ashcroft when they saw it? Why take the mickey out of the poor lambs any more - they do such a good job of it on their own?
Posted by Sue Marsh at 01:41am on 18 March 2010
Your work is, has been and I am sure will continue to be for many years to come the perfect playground for the minds of many (if not all) to further disseminate politics, manifestos and government business. Super and thank you!
Posted by kelv at 03:44pm on 30 March 2010
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