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Exit velocity: the media election

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-05-17, 13:51 authored by Dominic WringDominic Wring, Stephen Ward
The previous campaign of 2010 produced electoral firsts in media terms (the televised leaders' debates), drama and unpredictability (‘Cleggmania’) and memorable moments (Gordon Brown's ‘bigoted woman’ comments) all of which disrupted the parties' planned scripts. Arguably, the 2015 election seems to have been its very antithesis. The plodding six-week campaign has been widely been portrayed as dull, stage-managed, narrowly focused and lacking in surprise moments, but with a dramatic ending on election night, as the broadcasters announced the shock exit poll. The disbelieving former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown declared ‘he would eat his hat’ if his party suffered the losses predicted by the forecast; in fact the result was even worse. Ashdown like so many of his fellow commentators, whether of the traditional offline or online media varieties, was stunned by the apparent failure of the opinion polls to foresee the Conservative victory. What followed was the political equivalent of ‘exit velocity’ in the aftermath of a plodding election, with frenetic, intensive debate over the future of the UK sparking the kind of passion lacking in the preceding campaign. The 2015 campaign as reported in the media was predicated on the assumption that the outcome would be another hung Parliament and, possibly, coalition government. This was constantly reinforced by a stream of experts and opinion-formers fixated on what might happen after the election rather what had just happened in the previous Parliament. This augmented the potential power-broking role of emerging ‘challengers’ such as UKIP, the SNP and Greens at the marked expense of the Liberal Democrats, clear beneficiaries of the added exposure they had received in 2010. Yet if the campaign differed in terms of its focus on these growing political parties it was also reminiscent of the previous one with its similar emphasis on polls and other aspects …



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

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224 - 240 (17)


WRING, D. and WARD, S., 2015. Exit velocity: the media election. Parliamentary Affairs, 68 (Iss. Suppl. 1), pp. 224-240.


© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Hansard Society


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Parliamentary Affairs following peer review. The version of record WRING, D. and WARD, S., 2015. Exit Velocity: The Media Election. Parliamentary Affairs, 68 (Iss. Suppl. 1), pp. 224-240 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pa/gsv037.




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