10 times politicians became memes in 2021 - from awkward photos, to odd speeches

10 times politicians became memes in 2021 - from awkward photos, to odd speeches

With the Covid pandemic continuing to affect daily life and supply chain shortages causing headaches, the odd affair scandal here, some sleaze uncovered there and those alleged Christmas parties making headlines, it is fair to say 2021 has been quite the year for British politics.

Much like literary canons of the past, we can immortalise these historical events (thanks to the power of the internet) through some hilarious memes - after all, who can forget David Cameron’s piggate palaver, Ed Miliband insisting he’s “tough enough,” Jeremy Corbyn’s “we’re back” speech and Theresa May’s dance moves - to name just a few.

It is no different this year. How else would we get through these bleak times?

So, let’s take a trip down meme-ory lane with a chronological rundown of all the different times politicians became memes this year (and there’s a LOT).

Budget press photo becomes instant meme

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Photo calls can be the origins of some meme-worthy content - and this was the case for the Spring budget.

The image, taken by the Press Association in March, sees Sunak on the stairs of Number 11, alongside other members of his Treasury team, such as Steve Barclay and Kemi Badenoch.

We’re sure that looking like something out of the horror movie The Shining wasn’t exactly the vibe Chancellor Rishi Sunak was going for, though people couldn’t help but point out the strange angle and positioning of the snap.

Keir Starmer’s leadership gets memed after Hartlepool loss

Labour leader Keir Starmer couldn’t avoid the meme treatment after a historic loss of a by-election in Hartlepool in May this year. The seat was once was a former Labour stronghold, held by the party since 1974 and but fell to the Tories.

Alas, people couldn’t help but create some savage memes to highlight the brutal turn of events for Labour.

Nicola Sturgeon doing a thumbs up becomes a meme

During the Scottish Parliament election, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon casually gave a thumbs up to reporters as she campaigned for re-election in her constituency of Glasgow Southside – while (spoiler alert - she won her seat).

Despite the thumbs up, she didn’t appear to be that jolly at all (some election day jitters perhaps?) Whatever the reason, the picture was turned into a hilarious meme by the amused Twittersphere as people used it as a reaction photo.

Matt Hancock running away from a reporter sparks jokes

Sometimes the most unexpected moments can become an instant meme - which was certainly the case of Matt Hancock when he dodged reporters questions about Dominic Cummings’ explosive hearing.

Instead of answering questions, he urged over 30s to go and get their vaccine, before going on a jog and as he sprinted off reporters tried to question the then health secretary once more, but he rather decided to awkwardly wave with his back to the cameras, and thus from the odd response - a meme was born.

People compared Hancock’s move to something straight out of an Alan Partridge comedy and joked about how he ran off.

ThatMatt Hancock scandal

Hancock became a meme a second time after it was revealed he was having an affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo.

What’s worse is that we had to see this play out with our own eyes when CCTV footage from Hancock’s Whitehall office was leaked showing the pair kissing back in April - breaking Covid restrictions that were still in place.

As a result, Hancock dramatically resigned as health secretary on June 26 after he admitted to breaking Covid rules.

Of course, this political bombshell caused an explosion of memes about the story.

And the memes certainly didn’t stop there, when Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie were pictured watching the England vs Germany Euro 2020 game on his office TV - and Twitter immediately knew what to do.

One photoshopper decided to superimpose the CCTV footage of Hancock and Coladangelo kissing onto the TV screen Johnson and his wife were watching the football on.

Dominic Raab making a phone call

Another government released image made people laugh this year.

This time, people on Twitter were ridiculing a press photo taken of the then-foreign secretary Raab sitting at his desk and speaking on the phone. The photo was released when Raab came under fire for being on away at a five-star resort on the Greek island of Crete, while the Taliban marched on the Afghanistan capital, Kabul to take control of the country.

Through the art of memes, some mocked him for this, while they imagined what Raab was saying on the phone and hilariously guessed who exactly he was talking to on the other end of the line.

Keir Starmer writes a 14,000 word essay on his vision for the Labour Party

Often criticised for not taking a strong stance on matters, Labour leader Keir Starmer certainly proved critics wrong when he set out his vision for the party in a 14,000 essay called ‘The Road Ahead’, which was published by thinktank the Fabian Society.

But this time Starmer was roasted for the sheer length of the essay which some thought was too long and a bit dull.

Boris Johnson maskless hospital visit

Of course, this wouldn’t be a meme rundown without the meme magnet himself Boris Johnson. In November he was photographed without a mask as he greeted nurses during a hospital visit in Northumberland.

Not exactly setting an example.

While the move prompted backlash on Twitter, the late-night comedy chat show The Last Leg asked viewers to come up with their best photo caption ideas using the hashtag #BorisInAHospital for the show.

Boris Johnson CBI speech became a Peppa Pig meme

Johnson made meme history again when a rambling CBI speech didn’t quite come across as well as he perhaps hoped when he used it to reveal he had spent his Sunday afternoon at Peppa Pig World with his wife Carrie and son Wilfred, marvelling at the “pure genius” cartoon creation.

The bizarre reference didn’t go a-miss on Twitter, where people soon posted Peppa-PM related memes to highlight the complete randomness of it all.

That alleged Downing Street Christmas party

Ending things on a festive note, it seems the latest government scandal has taken on a life of its own online.

The government has been faced with several allegations of parties taking place while the UK was under strict Covid lockdown restrictions - and public outrage ensued following these claims.

A video then emerged of Number 10 staff discussing and joking about how they would respond to questions from the media about the alleged parties and the fallout from this ultimately led Johnson’s spokesperson at the time – Allegra Stratton – to resign.

Although the prime minister denied that the parties took place and that Covid rules were followed, he announced that cabinet secretary Simon Case would investigate whether one of the parties took place. Then, Case stepped down from this role over allegations he was involved in some parties of his own - the scandal just goes on and on.

As you can imagine, the scandal resulted in a strong (and creative) public response as memes relating to the matter spread like wildfire on Twitter.

For every meme-worthy scandal, comedian Munya Chawawa is always guaranteed to create a hilarious video about it.

Piers Morgan had a joke about the whole thing too.

If 2021 is anything to go by, then 2022 should be just as jam-packed with hilarious political memes.

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