Britain's election: All eyes on Paddy Ashdown to publicly eat his hat

Paddy Ashdown, former leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat party, leaves the party's headquarters in central London, May 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Paddy Ashdown, former leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat party, leaves the party's headquarters in central London, May 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON - Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, the party's campaign coordinator, became a social media sensation after he made an unusual claim on national television.

"If this exit poll is right, I will publicly eat my hat," he told the BBC on May 7.

He had refused to believe an exit poll prediction of just 10 seats for his party, down from 57 seats in 2010. He was speaking to Mr Andrew Neil as part of the BBC's election coverage. 

Hours later, he was offered a hat on the same BBC programme but Lord Ashdown did not carry out his promise. By then his party's fate has become clearer. Lord Ashdown said: "I think it's the last time I would question a BBC exit poll.

"(Alistair Campbell) and I were on the same programme and he said he will eat his kilt so I'm going to suggest we have a public ritual humiliation where he will eat his kilt and I'll eat my hat and we'll sell tickets. How about that?", he told Mr Neil.

Final tally showed that his party won eight seats.

Reactions came quick on Twitter. Within minutes of his first comments on May 7, someone started an expletive-rich spoof Twitter account named after the Hat . The account garnered 12,000 Twitter followers within half a day. Several more were created.

Below are some of the memes: