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Mystery of missing UK election pledge 'tombstone'
Opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband speaks during a press conference in central London on May 8, 2015 a day after the British general election. Ed Miliband announced his resignation on May 8 as the leader of the Labour Party. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS.

By: Robin Millard


LONDON (AFP).- The hunt was on across Britain on Saturday to find the defeated Labour Party's much-derided giant monolith bearing their election pledges carved in stone.

Ed Miliband, who quit as opposition Labour leader on Friday following the Conservatives' general election triumph, unveiled the tablet of stone on May 3, with six rock-solid commitments chiselled into it.

The 2.6-metre-high monument was quickly dubbed the EdStone, the Milistone, the Policy Cenotaph and Miliband's political tombstone, with mocking newspapers comparing the Labour leader to Moses and the Ten Commandments.

Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson branded the grey limestone slab the "heaviest suicide note in history".

The monolith was to have been erected in glory in the Downing Street garden following Thursday's election -- but has now vanished.

The Labour Party could not clear up the mystery.

"I'm not getting into that," one party spokesman told AFP.

Another said: "I've no idea where the pledge stone is, I've no idea what's happening to it."

It was unveiled in a car park in Hastings on the southern English coast. Nobody was at home at the local Labour offices. Local crane hire firms said they hadn't seen it.

Harriet Harman, Labour's stand-in leader, insisted: "We have not lost it," without specifying where someone might hope to find it.

Britain's newspapers are on the trail: the Daily Mail is offering a case of champagne for information leading to the discovery of the Ed Stone. The Sun has opened a hotline.

- 'Inane slogans' - 

The stone read:

"A better plan. A better future.

"1 A strong economic foundation

"2 Higher living standards for working families

"3 An NHS with the time to care

"4 Controls on immigration

"5 A country where the next generation can do better than the last

"6 Homes to buy and action on rents."

Miliband's signature was etched on the bottom.

"They're carved in stone because they won't be abandoned after the general election," he said at the unveiling.

"I want the British people to remember these pledges, to remind us of these pledges."

He then told BBC radio: "They don't expire on May 8. They don't disappear."

Labour campaign boss Lucy Powell appeared to contradict him when she told BBC radio: "I don't think anyone is suggesting that the fact that he's carved them into stone means, you know, that he will absolutely, you know, not going to break them."

An article in Labour-backing newspaper The Guardian speculated that archaeologists might unearth it in the future and wonder whether it was "the centre of a hitherto unknown civilisation based around the sun god Ed".

Miliband had "raised the stupidity bar", it said.

"If Moses had come down from Mount Sinai with a tablet of commandments as dopey as this, the whole history of religion would have had to be rewritten."

Spoof EdStones were being offered on the eBay auction site, one seller saying: "£30,000 ($46,000, 41,000 euros) worth of unwanted limestone obelisk. Some idiot has carved some inane slogans on it, but these can easily be erased."




© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse






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