ed miliband

U.K. politician carves his campaign promises into stone monolith

As political publicity stunts go, this one is unusually weird.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Published May 3, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 10:27 pm CDT

With only four days to go until the U.K. election, the two leading campaigns are getting desperate. The Conservatives and the Labour party have been deadlocked in the polls for months, with neither projected to win a majority.

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With that in mind, Labour leader Ed Miliband decided on a bizarre last-minute publicity stunt that may haunt him for the rest of his career.

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On Sunday morning, Miliband announced that he’d literally set his election promises in stone, commissioning an 8-foot limestone monolith bearing six of Labour’s top election promises.

Miliband pledged that if he is elected Prime Minister, the monolith will be placed in the garden of his official residence as a reminder of his promises to the British public.

Given that the Conservatives attempted to erase their pre-2010 election pledges from the Internet, you can see how Miliband’s monolith could be a meaningful symbolic gesture. Unfortunately, all of his pledges are totally ambiguous and nonspecific. Instead of stating real targets, the stone slab lists six near-meaningless phrases like “controls on immigration” and “a strong economic foundation.”

Predictably, the stunt was met with hilarity on social media—not least because of the unavoidable comparisons with the Ten Commandments. If you rewrote “Thou shalt not kill” in the style of Miliband’s monolith, it would become something like, “Discourage murder.”

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If someone suggested this idea for a political satire show like Veep, it would probably be rejected on grounds of implausibility. And yet, here we are. If Labour wins the election, then Miliband’s policy rock will become an ongoing prop during his leadership. Otherwise, his promises are nonspecific enough that the next Prime Minister is virtually guaranteed to fulfill them anyway. 

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Photo via Ed Miliband/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: May 3, 2015, 2:36 pm CDT