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Viral overload
Political TikTok, Issue 1625
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HOSTILE AUDIENCE: Rishi Sunak's first TikTok post was an explainer of his party's new national service plan
A FORTNIGHT into the general election campaign, the big political poster ads – demon eyes, snaking dole queues, etc – are notable by their absence. Political advertising went online long ago – first to Facebook, Google and Twitter, but now Instagram and TikTok are the battlegrounds.

Call to arms
Indeed, just a year after banning TikTok on all government devices because of security concerns about its Chinese owners and their links to the foreign state, the Tories have tried to open up a new digital front on the platform as part of their campaign.

@UKConservatives debuted on the app (used by 76 percent of those aged 15-24) with a dry video of Rishi Sunak explaining his national service scheme by grinningly assuring the youth: "I'm not sending everyone off to join the army."

How did users react? Er, much-"liked" comments on the video included "Cannot wait to vote Labour" and "mum says no sorry x".

Cilla games
Meanwhile @UKLabour, slightly cannier about TikTok, launched a meme onslaught, with one titled "POV: Rishi Sunak turning up on your 18th birthday to send you to war" and featuring Cilla Black warbling "Surprise Surprise!" to conscripted kids; and another parodying Sunak as Shrek's despotic Lord Farquaad ("Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make").

Given that videos play automatically in a user's feed and the platform counts playtime of just one second as a "view", public view counts don't mean much when assessing the impact of TikTok content. Even so, it's no surprise that a week into the campaign, the TikTok figures were looking roughly the same as the polls in the real world: Labour had received 17.5m views compared to the Tories' 6.1m.

As the kids might say, #slay.

More top stories in the latest issue:

FLIGHTS OF FANCY
The public accounts committee has concluded there was nothing to show for the government's Rwanda policy bar a big fat bill and "no credible plan".

TALKING CHOP
The early dissolution of parliament for the election left many select committee inquiries half-finished while others rushed out reports that were duly ignored.

FACTION STATIONS
Baroness Chakrabarti said "it's supposed to be country first and not faction first" while backing up Diane Abbott – evoking memories of 2016 for some…

FREE STYLE STARMER
Keir Starmer's "casual dad" campaigning image comes courtesy of a designer wardrobe provided at a cost of £16,200 from a friendly donor.

BLOOD, DEBT & FEARS
The whopping blood scandal compensation bill, plus a clutch of other huge NHS bills, will hand the election winner the mother of all hospital passes.

ELECTRIC DREAMS
Labour has gone into the election still making the same implausible promise in black and white: "A cheaper, zero-carbon electricity system by 2030."

CRASH COURSE
Even before the election announcement, the Labour charm offensive was already in full swing in City circles.

ALADDIN'S CLAMPDOWN
The old fiscal chestnut of the billions to be raised from clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion has inevitably been rolled out yet again.

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