Tory rebels under fire over ‘happy slapping’ viral ads

Conservative frontbench MPs are being forced to distance themselves from rebel Tory backbenchers who have commissioned an online viral campaign that uses real mobile phone video footage of drunkenness and “happy slapping” in a bid to encourage young people to vote Conservative in the forthcoming General Election.

The campaign, created by viral production house Asa Bailey, uses real mobile footage to “demonstrate the darker sides of life in modern Britain” under Labour.

Asa Bailey, founder of his eponymous firm, says: “Conservative backbench MPs commissioned the campaign, but I cannot identify them.”

Two viral films have so far been seeding online with the footage posted on video-sharing site YouTube on a profile called “Sexybritain”.

The first film, “Happy Slapping Thugs Rule the UK” contains text saying “Street crime has doubled under Labour” and “Sick of life under Labour”.

The second film, “She’s off her box”, shows a drunken young woman at a nightclub falling over, with the text “Alcohol abuse has doubled under Labour” and “Vote for change” – a tagline used in the 2004 US elections.

The Conservative Party central office denies any knowledge of the campaign, saying it is the work of rebel MPs. In reaction to the underground campaign, a Labour spokesman says: “If Tory MPs really think it is OK to send around appalling images like these they have some very serious questions to answer.”

Bailey says the campaign is aimed at sparking debate about life in the UK and was commissioned “in response to Lord Saatchi’s recent calls for the Conservative Party to stop its ‘nicely nicely approach’ to advertising and PR”.

But one disgruntled online viewer says: “What a disgrace: using violence as a selling tool for a political party.”

The two virals are the first in a series of films that will be seeded over the Net in coming months and will be supported by a television ad campaign in the north of England once a prospective General Election has been called.

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