Whatever happened to the good old election poster?

by Lucy Ashton

Once upon a time our streets would have been ablaze with colourful orange triangles, lurid yellow and red squares and true blue garden stakes. But now, while people are quick to add a twibbon to their twitter profile or a flag to their Facebook picture, the humble election poster has fallen out of fashion.

When I was a kid in the 1980s, I used to help out in election campaigns and we would order posters by the boxful. They were probably one of the biggest election expenses and people very often wanted two or three for their garden, bedroom window and car as they proudly declared their allegiance.

By the 1990s, I was working as a journalist and posters were still popular. I remember writing photo stories where whole streets were decked out in one colour, or married couples had rival stakes in the garden.

Even a few years ago, I could name streets in Sheffield where you could find a swathe of Labour posters in a row or a clutch of Lib Dem triangles.

And then, quite suddenly, election posters seemed to fall out of fashion. It seems normal to lambast friends on Facebook over Brexit and for complete strangers to hurl abuse on Twitter, but admit how you’re voting in an election? That’s a step too far.

People have mixed feelings about them.

Conservative supporter Mike Love stopped putting up posters after a spate of vandalism. “I displayed a Tory poster in my garden in 1987 and someone set fire to it. I’ve tended not to display them since.”

Chris Shaw, a floating voter, says he did once display a Green Party parish council one. But would he display one now? “No way. I’ve traditionally been a shy Tory. I’m considering switching from May but would be embarrassed by a Labour poster.”

For Linda Lefevre, it wouldn’t be a proper election without a few posters. She said: “I display one on our front window as it’s traditional and adds excitement. I hope it will encourage neighbours to get involved and vote.”

Linda does need to impress a certain neighbour though: “We live opposite Ed Miliband, who also has a poster, as do our two next door neighbours.”

I remember my dad strategically placing one of our election poster by the back wall so it looked as though it was in our neighbour’s garden. Scott Barton – who took the photo with this blog – spotted this house in Sheffield. “This was the same back garden so I guess they’ll have to agree to disagree,” he said.

So if the poster has fallen by the wayside, along with loud hailers on cars and giant rosettes, elections will seem that bit more drab compared to the colourful campaigns of the past.

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former regional newspaper Political Editor

Tags: , , , , ,

9 Responses to “Whatever happened to the good old election poster?”

  1. John says:

    Probably because as became apparent during the Scottish Independance campaign, in the new era of politics putting the wrong kind of poster in your window is a good way to get a brick thrown through it by people who don’t know how to behave.

  2. Richard Gadsden says:

    This is very variable around the country. Some places have very few posters and haven’t had many for decades. Other places get covered in posters even now.

    Also, people are affected by their neighbours. If you can convince a few people to put up posters on one road, soon half the street will have them up – of all parties too; once you see some from one party, the others will follow very quickly.

  3. Anon says:

    To erect a Tory or UKIP poster now is to invite vandalism.

    It’s unbelievably nice to see somebody who is as naive as Lucy Ashton – I’m afraid that we inhabit a much nastier world these days.

  4. Boatwalker says:

    I walked the dog today and in half mile counted 26 houses displaying window bills. Only 1 for the Tories, the rest were for the Labour Party.

  5. John says:

    “Boatwalker says:
    June 4, 2017 at 4:55 pm
    I walked the dog today and in half mile counted 26 houses displaying window bills. Only 1 for the Tories, the rest were for the Labour Party”

    And the irony is that on Thursday probably 18 of those 26 are going to vote Tory…

  6. Tafia says:

    Isn’t there an old Labour saying “We always win the poster war”

  7. Lucy you have to look at local regs. When I asked why no posters in the stoke central by election I was told the council banned them as the place got to look like Berlin 1932. Some areas do have them. I drove through Tim Farron’s constituency last week and from Kendal to Windermere and back to Kirby Lonsdale there were hundreds of Lib Dems posters and in Kendal other parties.

    What does seem odd is that in my Stafford seat, I have seen no posters in windows from the TORY mp. He takes ads in the papers and has posters at road junctions, but only Labour have posters in windows.

    None from any party on lampposts and they have not been banned to my knowledge.

    Trevor Fisher

  8. uglyfatbloke says:

    John…are you aware that the claims of ‘no’ voters having their windows put in have proved to be as reliable as Ruth Davidson’s story about ‘burly men’ preventing people from voting? In both cases the police have rebuked the culprits for making up storied and stirring up trouble. The nats are pretty ferkin awful, but don’t believe what you read in the press – hence virtually no coverage if somebody trying to kill Salmond and the BBC’s outright dishonesty about the Unionist attackers in George Square, but we had a relentless week of Murphy being hit with a life-threatening…..emmm….egg.

  9. Ken Bell says:

    I stick posters up for every election or referendum, so in 2014 I had Yes posters in my window, the following year an SNP one, then in 2016 I had SNP and Labour posters up, before getting my Leave posters for the Brexit vote.

    I asked Labour over a month ago for a poster for this election and they dropped it off last night!

    The point about the poster war is that it, along with canvassing, gives the parties a chance to chat on the doorstep to the punters, and take the pulse of the area. You find out who is a bit poorly and might need a car to take them to the vote, and so on.

    It’s what parties used to do, but now they think that all we need is Facebook.

Leave a Reply