Advertising billboards set up by the National Union of Students in London Victoria, Sheffield Central and Manchester Piccadilly have all been removed by Network Rail staff for reportedly being “too political”.
The advert (pictured), bearing the line “Liar, Liar” were targeted at the 30 MPs who the NUS claim “broke their promises” to students and their families by voting to increase University fees after promising not to at the 2010 election. The advert was also aimed at a further eight MPs who “didn’t even turn up” to vote.
The billboard campaign had originally been scheduled to run above the train time boards in London Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly, as well as on the first platform at Sheffield Central from midnight last night until 8 May, the day after the election.
The billboards were the second part of the NUS’ national advertising campaign in the run up to the election on May 7. Last week five ‘ad vans’ bearing the same image were launched by the Union at an event in London.
These vans are now visiting student unions around the country encouraging students to join the campaign, cast their vote and “not vote for a Liar Liar pledge breaker” if they are standing in their constituency.
The NUS has also set up a “Liar Liar” campaign page on its website, where students can sign up and join. As of the time of writing, the campaign currently has around 3,000 signatories.
NUS president, Toni Pearce has called this another “mass gagging attempt” by the government, after its failure to pass the lobbying act.
“I can’t quite help feeling like this is the second mass gagging attempt on students, seeing as the lobbying bill didn’t work.
“Well it doesn’t stop our campaign. You can delete a billboard image but you can’t erase betrayal. There are a fleet of vans travelling the country right now targeting pledge breaker seats across the country, and will do until May 8.
“Lies were told. Seats were secured because of them, and we just won’t tolerate it.”
Network Rail statement
A spokeswoman for clarified Network Rail's position and issued an apology to the NUS:
“As a politically neutral organisation, we do not allow political activity on our stations and this applies to any forms of advertising or campaigning.
“In this instance it’s clear that an error has been made, as the poster should not have been approved for use in our stations.
"We will be apologising to the NUS for the misunderstanding and will ensure that they do not have to pay for the display.”