This blog collects perspectives on the election you won't find anywhere else, by political experts, based in the School of Politics and International Relations at The University of Nottingham.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Fire up the Hansom cab

"It seems odd for parties to look back into the relatively distant past, considering that they are in the business of providing better futures..."
In all the fuss about the new Labour poster featuring David Cameron as Gene Hunt one thing has been missed: this is not the first time that the party has turned to its supporters for poster designs. For that, you can go back to the distinctly pre-internet 1908, when the National Executive Committee decided to put an ad in Fabian News soliciting ideas. It’s not clear what ideas this produced, but Labour’s 1910 campaign went on to feature the iconic designs by the Royal Academician Gerald Spencer Pryse, ‘Workless’, ‘Landless’, and ‘Forward! The Day Is Breaking!’ The Conservative party agents journal of 1910 similarly asked if agents had any ideas for posters, and to send them in.

And note: it’s also not the first time Labour attempts to play on history have backfired. In 1979 Labour produced this:

The poster was meant to remind people of Heath’s three-day week, but coming just after the Winter of Discontent it was a marketing disaster.

It seems odd for parties to look back into the relatively distant past, considering that they are in the business of providing better futures. History, if nothing else, is open to interpretation as the Tory rebuttal has shown. To anyone under the age of 30 the 1980s were a time of childhood. To fans of Ashes to Ashes, Gene Hunt anyway is a hard nosed go-getter. Perhaps parties should concentrate more on the future, rather that arguments about a past that a significant number of the population can’t remember. However given what’s in store, whoever wins the election, perhaps it’s not so surprising that the future will not feature much in the current campaign.

Christopher Burgess


  1. Did Labour really use the candle ad? I thought they commissioned it, and then abandoned it, for obvious reasons.

  2. Thanks for the comments I haven't come across this. In the information sent to agents about literature available the poster was available and cost 10p each, and in the report of the General Secretary produced after the election the poster is listed as one used with no mention of its withdrawal. I have also found leaflets depicting the image. I would be interested to hear if you had information that Labour were actively discouraging agents from not using the poster.


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