LONDON (AFP) – The street artist Banksy has scrapped an offer to give a limited-edition design to people who vote against the Tories in Britain’s elections on Thursday, after the authorities intervened.
On his website, the mysterious artist said he had been warned by a national watchdog, the Electoral Commission, that his offer would “invalidate the election result.”
“I regret to announce this ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been cancelled,” Banksy said.
His post, filed late Monday, said it was a “Product Recall.”
Banksy had offered limited-edition prints to voters in six constituencies around Bristol, his home city.
The artwork was a rejig of one of Banksy’s best-known pieces of graffitti called “Balloon Girl,” in which a sad child looks at a heart-shaped balloon that has escaped from her hand.
The red heart used in the original picture was replaced by a heart-shaped balloon with a British flag — presumably a symbol of a nation deemed to be lost and adrift.
Local police, on their Twitter feed, said they were investigating the offer after receiving a “number of complaints.”
Under a 1983 law on electoral bribery, it is illegal for any voter to accept a gift in return for voting or refraining from voting, they said.
Banksy had initially said the print would be released on June 9, the day after the election.
“Simply send in a photo of your ballot paper from polling day showing you voted against the Conservative incumbent and this complimentary gift will be mailed to you,” the offer had said.
In a “lawyer’s note” disclaimer, it had added: “This print is a souvenir piece of campaign material, it is in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate, has no monetary value, is for amusement purposes only and is strictly not for resale. Terms and conditions to follow, postage not included.”
Banksy shot to prominence through guerrilla art in Bristol, later extended to London, that took a sardonic view of British life, often hurling a barb at corporate greed and rightwing politics.
He gained a global audience in March by unveiling a symbol of the division of the West Bank — the “Walled-Off Hotel” in Bethlehem, just a few metres (yards) from Israel’s separation wall.