UK
03/02/2015 10:39 GMT | Updated 03/02/2015 11:59 GMT

Al Murray's Debut Campaign Poster Is Better Than Anything Ukip's Nigel Farage Has Unveiled

Al Murray’s Pub Landlord character hit the campaign trail on Tuesday in his bid to beat Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Murray, who is competing for the South Thanet seat, unveiled his official FUKP poster in Thanet, featuring his own pint-clutching form and the simple slogan: “Vote common sense, vote Guv for guv’norment”.

Ukip has had a series of slip-ups with its election posters, the most recent being a billboard which accidentally advertised a photographer’s phone number, resulting in her being bombarded with “abusive” phone calls.

Alexandria Hall later told Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics show how the party asked her to redirect calls to the correct number.

Last year Farage oversaw a Ukip poster campaign which decried “foreign labour” and called on voters to “take back control of our country.”

The posters which warned “British workers are hit hard by unlimited foreign labour” were part of the party’s biggest-ever publicity drive ahead of European Parliament elections in May, but backfired spectacularly after they were condemned as racist and bigoted.

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Nigel Farage defended the immigration-centred poster campaign as 'a hard-hitting reflection of reality'

Murray, who as part of his manifesto has promised “1p a pint” (although crisps will remain at the current price), won the hearts and minds of locals by visiting a pub, a brewery and a school in the Kent constituency.

In his trademark burgundy-coloured blazer, he stepped out from a people carrier and told reporters outside Thanet District Council's offices in Margate that his party represented "rational common sense".

He then went on to outline some of his pledges, including making Thanet the capital city and bringing HS7 to the area.

On why he chose Thanet, he said: "I heard destiny's call like a trumpet in the far distance and it sounded like it was saying Thanet, so Thanet had to be the place."

He added: "If I were to win then I would definitely open a pub because I'm going to nationalise pubs if I get the chance."

Murray managed to muster a decent crowd during his walkabout, unlike Farage who was accused of massaging the figures during his visit to the constituency last month.

Farage Tweeted pictures of himself addressing “over 500 people”, though a quick headcount revealed the figure to be under 100 – 92 to precise.

Murray scoffed at a question about whether he had a dry January like his political opponent Farage, and spoke of his plans to "demilitarise" North and South Thanet.

"Why can't North and South Thanet walk in harmony together," he said.

On expenses, he said: "They say there is no such thing as a free lunch but if you are an MP it looks like there are free dinners as well."

Oxford-educated Murray, 46, last month launched an action plan under the guise of his patriotic character in his bid to reach Parliament.

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Photo galleryAl Murray in Thanet See Gallery

He has included a pledge that the UK will leave Europe by 2025 "and the edge of the Solar System by 2050".

And he also has ideas on law and order, with a promise to tackle crime by locking up all unemployed people.

On the hot topic of immigration, he plans to stop people reaching the shores of "the greatest country in the world" by bricking up the Channel Tunnel - with British bricks and using Polish labour.

A website has been set up for his campaign, carrying the slogan: "Other parties offer the moon on a stick. We'll do better than that: a British moon on a British stick."

Photo galleryAl Murray in Thanet See Gallery

Murray is standing in a constituency which the Conservative Party won from Labour at the previous election in 2010.

It is already the focus of huge attention due to Farage's decision to stand there as Ukip experiences a surge in support and now has two Parliamentary seats.

Ukip has welcomed the intervention of The Pub Landlord, with a spokesman for the Eurosceptics saying: "At last, serious competition in the constituency."

And Farage has said: "The more, the merrier."

Bookmaker's Ladbrokes last month installed the comedian as a 66/1 chance to take the seat, and evens to outpoll the Lib Dems, with Mr Farage remaining the firm odds on favourite to take the seat from the Conservatives.

William Hill also made FUKP the fourth favourite behind Labour but still consider Murray odds on not to get sufficient votes to retain the £500 deposit candidates must pay to take part.

South Thanet, which includes the coastal towns of Ramsgate, Sandwich and Broadstairs, has previously enjoyed a reputation as an electoral bellwether - held at every election since 1983 by the party that has formed the government of the day.

In 2010 Tory Laura Sandys ousted Labour former minister Stephen Ladyman, who had held the seat since Tony Blair's 1997 landslide when he defeated the constituency's most high-profile former MP, the Tory ex-Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, who two years later was jailed for perjury.

Kent-born Farage stood in South Thanet in 2005, only to finish fourth with 2,079 votes, a 5% share.

But Ukip's recent electoral success has made victory in the seat a very real prospect, with the party performing strongly in Kent in last year's European elections.

Across the Thanet District Council area Ukip topped the poll, with 16,492 votes, more than double the votes cast for the second-placed Tories.

The Free United Kingdom Party's logo features an upturned pound sign, in a clear parody of the Ukip symbol.

Murray is not the only celebrity to bidding for a seat in Parliament on May 7. The Happy Mondays dancer Bez - real name Mark Berry - is standing for election for Reality Party in Salford.

During his visit to the Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs, Murray said he was meeting "the adults of tomorrow" to tell them about "their chance to change this nation from Great Britain to Amazing Britain".

Asked how seriously he was taking the election campaign, he said: "Well, only a fool wouldn't take the general election seriously. And a vote for me is a vote for common sense."

When asked his view on Greece's economy, he told pupils: "You have to admire them standing up to the Germans."

Photo galleryAl Murray in Thanet See Gallery