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04/12/2016

Twitter hashtag backfires on UKIP ahead of elections

UK & Europe

Twitter hashtag backfires on UKIP ahead of elections

UKIP boss Nigel Farage. Sep 2009. [Euro Realist Newsletter/Flickr]

The UK Independence Party suffered a social media setback a day (21 May) before the European Parliament elections after its Twitter campaign hashtag was hijacked by internet jokers.

UKIP’s public relations team had invited their members to explain where they were supporting the Eurosceptic party in the elections. The UK goes to the polls tomorrow.

But their Twitter hashtag #WhyI’mVotingUkip was swiftly hijacked by people keen to mock the party and satirise its supporters, as well as genuine UKIP voters.

The hashtag, a way of grouping Twitter conversations by subject, was soon “trending” in the UK.  When a hashtag trends it means it is one of the most popular subjects being discussed.

The tweets refer back to a series of recent gaffes made by UKIP, including leader and MEP Nigel Farage. Farage was forced to apologise after saying he would be concerned if a family of Romanians were to live next door to him. He later took out a full page advert in a national newspaper to deny racism accusations (here). 

A farcical and poorly attended “UKIP carnival” in Croydon, London clearly failed to convince all Brits that the party was not racist, if the tweets are anything to go by. UKIP was also criticised today for an election poster showing graves of British war dead with the motto (here).

Other tweets reference the  UKIP local councillor, who blamed storms and heavy floods across Britain on the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage.

We’ve put together a selection of the funniest tweets about such subjects as MEP Godfrey Bloom’s infamous “Bongo Bongo Land” comments, vanishing Romanians, the EU and Star Wars, and, of course, Eurovision.

Background

The eurozone debt crisis kindled an anti-European mood in Britain and emboldened politicians to talk of clawing back powers from Brussels, or even leaving the bloc altogether.

British Eurosceptics, such as the UK Independence Party, see the EU as an oppressive, wasteful superstate that threatens Britain's sovereignty, want a referendum on whether to stay in the EU. They are expected to make big gains in this week's elections. 

Timeline

22 May: UK votes in European Parliament elections