Ed Miliband has taken a calculated risk by authorising a political broadcast containing a satirical attack on a shrunken, naked Nick Clegg – but no details of Labour policies.
The black and white video entitled “The Un-credible Shrinking Man” is a pastiche based on the popular 1950s film about a man who shrinks to so small a size that he is in danger of being eaten by a spider.
In the Labour version, it is Nick Clegg who shrinks, by breaking his manifesto promise to end tuition fees and acquiescing in other Tory policies.
The video is set in a cabinet room full of upper-class Tories led by an overbearing David Cameron, played by the actor Dominic Coleman, who also appeared in the comedy, Sex Lives of the Potato Men. Nick Clegg is played by the stage actor Kevin Hand.
The broadcast was criticised on social media because it was seen as negative campaigning, and opinion was divided about whether the humour worked.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat president, tweeted: “What Labour’s petty attack ad tells me is they have no economic plan and nothing positive to say. Petty politics.”
Observers were also surprised that Labour should concentrate on the Liberal Democrats, who are trailing a poor fourth place in opinion polls. Labour will have an ad van out tomorrow and has prepared campaigning material for distribution, also attacking the Lib Dems. Its strategists say the broadcast is aimed at a mainly young audience, angry about tuition fees, who have abandoned the Lib Dems but have not decided whether to vote at all or who to vote for.
“We’re trying to find some new ways of talking to people,” a spokesman said. “We think it’s a light-hearted way to deal with serious issues.”
Labour has been working with Blue State Digital, a political consultancy employed by the Obama campaign, on its online strategy. Last month Obama adviser David Axelrod was hired to work on the 2015 general election campaign.