Amol Rajan: At times, the truth was stranger than any television satire

Media Coverage

Related Topics

"The medium is the message," said Canadian academic Marshall McLuhan, in 1964.

Modern elections make that dictum, brilliantly lampooned in the satirical show The Thick of It, seem more apt by the day. The 24-hour news cycle and the array of spin merchants make distinguishing the two almost impossible, and at times during the campaign, Armando Iannucci's comedy seemed impossibly prescient. But it's our job to try. So here's a bunch of stories that even those employed to censor the news couldn't control...

3 April The Tories start as they mean to go on, chasing the middle ground with the prospective Home Secretary declaring that owners of a B&B "have the right" to turn away homosexual couples. Chris Grayling is "Asbo-ed" until election night.

8 April Michael Caine, an early celebrity backer for the Tories, is wheeled on to pledge his support for Cameron's National Citizen Service, but forgets it's a Tory idea. "This government is doing a wonderful thing with the national service." Oops.

13 April Launching their manifesto at Battersea Power Station, the Tories play David Bowie's "Changes" and "Everything Changes" (spot the theme) by Keane. But Keane's drummer is appalled. He tweets: "[Am] told the Tories played Keane at their manifesto launch. Am horrified. To be clear – we were not asked. I will not vote for them".

14 April Two Labour stooges are photographed holding open a door for the Prime Minister and his wife at a health centre. As a snapshot of how orchestrated most campaigning is, and the subservience of Brown's staff, it's hard to beat.

15 April This is the day the world changed – Nick Clegg adopts the novel approach of looking into a camera designed to focus on him; 9.9 million people mostly like what they see. Within hours a British newspaper (not this one) has commissioned a feature with the headline: "Is Clegg the British Obama?". Welcome to Cleggmania.

18 April "Nick Clegg nearly as popular as Winston Churchill" screams an upper mid-market Sunday paper. Headlines later in the week are less favourable to the yellow Messiah.

21 April "Clegg in Nazi slur on Britain" writes one mid-market tabloid. It's the counter-Clegg offensive: The Daily Telegraph digs up less-than-flattering details of his expenses on the same day. If the idea is to destabilise him before the second debate, it doesn't work.

23 April Manufacturers at Marmite are outraged when the BNP puts a jar on their election broadcast. As our Charles Nevin reported, it was one dark spread against another.

24 April A morris dancer puts a top hat on the Tory leader's head during St George's Day celebrations. The subsequent photo is a gift for Labour's class warriors.

27 April Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman more than meets his match in the shape of unlikely hero Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym of Plaid Cymru. The sharp-suited, bespectacled and balding Welshman, every inch the economist, chides Paxman with taunts of "do your homework" and "get your facts right", forcing him to leaf through an index and concede that London is an English region. 28 April The Institute of Fiscal Studies criticises all three leading parties for not being honest about the budget deficit – and director Robert Chote solidifies his claim on the affections of housewives across the UK.

29 April Brown is caught right in the thick of it, recorded calling one Gillian Duffy a bigot. The story had everything – she was an old, widowed life-long Labour supporter, living in a place of industrial decline and worried about immigration. Except that, refusing to play ball and say she'd vote blue, Mrs Duffy turned down a life-changing sum from a tabloid newspaper.

29 April A perma-tanned Tony Blair revisits Blighty to talk up Labour achievements, just in time to look good in relation to "Bigotgate".

4 May Gordon Brown is the "worst Prime Minister ever". Who said it? George Osborne? Nigel Farage? Blair? No: Manish Sood, Labour candidate for Norfolk North West.

5 May BNP Campaign chief Bob Bailey, standing in Barking and Dagenham, is caught on film punching and kicking an Asian youth.

"The election isn't about celebrities, it's about people," the Prime Minister said on his final day of campaigning. Just behind him, Ross Kemp, David Tennant and Eddie Izzard concur.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a campaign visit to Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding in Penzance  

General Election 2015: With not long to go, all the main parties need to up their game

Ian Birrell
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions