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Ed Stone

This article is about the political object. For other uses, see Edward Stone (disambiguation).

The "Ed Stone" is the name given to a large stone tablet which was commissioned for the Labour Party during the 2015 general election. The stone is 2.6 metres tall, weighs 2 tons, and features six election pledges carved on it, replete with the Labour logo, and a copy of signature of then party leader Ed Miliband. The tablet is rumoured to have cost £30,000. Miliband had pledged that if Labour won the election the stone was to have stood in the Downing Street Rose Garden "as a reminder of our duty to keep Labour’s promises" .[1][2]

Unveiling and reaction

The tablet was unveiled on 3 May 2015, in the marginal constituency of Hastings and Rye, which Labour hoped to take from the Conservative Party. The purpose of the stone was to illustrate Labour's commitment to its promises, contrasting this with the failure of the Liberal Democrats to keep their 2010 election campaign pledge to abolish tuition fees.

The six pledges written on the stone are:

  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 rent

Almost immediately the stone became a source of near universal ridicule.[citation needed] It was unfavourably compared to Moses and the Ten Commandments, and to a cemetery headstone. In a matter of hours Twitter users had declared it the 'Ed Stone'.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson called it 'some weird commie slab', whilst shadow transport minister Michael Dugher later admitted it was a "12ft, granite, marble, cock-up” - though the tablet is actually limestone.[3][4] While watching Miliband unveil the tablet on television, a Labour press officer reportedly "started screaming. He stood in the office, just screaming over and over again at the screen. It was so bad they thought he was having a breakdown".[5]

Lucy Powell, the Labour campaign's vice-chair, was widely thought to have committed a gaffe about the stone, when she said on Radio 5 Live "I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the fact that he’s carved them in stone means he’s absolutely not going to break them or anything like that".[6] This was particularly damaging as the whole point of the stone had been to underline the seriousness of Miliband's commitment.

It had also been remarked[by whom?] that the pledges written on the stone were so vague as to be considered meaningless.

Election aftermath and location

In the aftermath of the election (in which Labour had performed worse than expected, and the Conservative Party had won a surprise overall majority) the location of the Ed Stone became uncertain. Officials in the Labour Party refused to disclose its location. This sparked a media frenzy in the UK, with various newspapers offering rewards for its location. The Daily Telegraph contacted 50 masonry firms in an attempt to find it, whilst the Daily Mail offered a reward of a case of champagne for its location, and The Sun set up a hotline for information [7]

The disappearance of the Ed Stone led to joking comparisons in the media with the Ark of the Covenant as portrayed in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which the Ark is stored in secret in a large warehouse, its location undisclosed.

The seat in which the stone was unveiled, Hastings and Rye, was held by the Conservatives, whose MP Amber Rudd increased her majority to 4,796, up 5.4%.

As of 15 May 2015 the Ed Stone is allegedly in storage inside a garage in South London.[8]