My 'undecided' view of European Election literature in London

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 1 June 2009

So, for the first time that I can recall, if you polled me a couple of days before an election, I'd have to honestly say I was 'Undecided'. I'm seriously thinking of voting for a smaller party or an independent candidate, and so last week I did some research and put together a brief list of all of the candidates for the London European Election.

As I'm unsure who to vote for, I've also been paying closer attention than usual to the election literature that has come through my door. Here are some of the interesting things that I noticed.

Conservatives and the newspapers

Newspaper headline in the Conservative's leaflet

In the Conservative leaflet that I received, there was a panel showing newspaper headlines condemning the current Government. One thing I noted with interest was that the headlines came from The Sun, Telegraph, Express and Mail. A couple of them though were specifically credited to the websites rather than the printed paper.

Website credits in the Conservative's leaflet

I also thought it was interesting that the party chose again to bring up the 'smear email' scandal. I'm still somewhat at a loss as to understand how it can be that some stories exchanged in email and never published were so outrageous that we need our press and Her Majesty's Opposition to trot them out in full at every opportunity.

Smear story in the Conservative's election leaflet

Mind you, since one of those 'smeared' - Nadine Dorries - has subsequently been virtually disowned by Cameron over her stance on the MP expenses scandal, perhaps that is the real point of keeping the story in the public eye? ;-)

Liberal Democrats and "Can't win here"

If you've ever lived in more than one constituency in the UK, you'll know that Liberal Democrats are armed with a series of bar charts to add to their leaflets which show why they are the only credible opposition to the other main party in the area. Where I live now it is the Conservatives who "Can't win here", and back where I used to live on the edge of Chingford, it is usually Labour who "Can't win here".

I did think it was a bit cheeky to put this on the European Election Communication though.

Liberal Democrat election leaflet

Because this election is counted on a proportional representation basis - a election system that the Liberal Democrats have campaigned for year to adopt for General Elections - surely this is precisely the time that voting Conservative in Hornsey or Wood Green will actually count, and you can contribute to them winning a London seat for an MEP?

I think it looks particularly poor when put aside the UKIP European Election leaflet, which is actually more honest about the value of your vote under this system.

UKIP leaflet explaining the voting system

I was also a bit concerned that the choice of font and drop shadow made one of the Liberal Democrat leaflets (presumably unintentionally) look like a lolcat.

Is this leaflet a lolcat image?

Visual clichés still alive and well

The No2EU leaflet was pretty unremarkable except for the image on the front page.

No2EU party leaflet

It is interesting to ponder how much money the Saatchi brothers would have made in royalties over the years if they were able to charge for 'cover versions' of their 1978 "Labour isn't working" campaign. I swear if I never see another 'homage' to this advert in my life again I'll die a happy man...

Labour and the lap dance club

Just prior to the election season starting, I got a leaflet from Labour's PPC for the next General Election. It appears to have escaped my strict political leaflet scanning regime, so I'm afraid you'll have to take my word for what was in it.

Now, I've mentioned before the local planning fight over the proposal for a lap-dancing club in a residential area near a school. Our MP has raised it in the House Of Commons, and the local press have been covering the local grass roots campaign.

Fears For Young Girls article

Oddly, the Labour leaflet led with their candidate's support of the campaign against the lap-dance club. I found it odd, because our local council is run by Labour, and has been for decades. Surely, leading with supporting the local residents against a planning application is a vote of no confidence in the procedures being operated by a council run your own party?

Other parties

Idiots

I'm loathe to even mention them, but I couldn't avoid pointing this out on the BNP leaflet - the list of British battle victories. The thing that struck me was the lack of logic in the ones chosen. Dunkirk was an evacuation exercise, surely?

Numpties

And unless I'm very much mistaken, I thought it was only Adrian Mole's dad who believed the Argentines had invaded a small island off the coast of Scotland. The Falklands was not a battle with Europe.

So if you are going to list any old recent success by British troops, I'm at a loss as to why the BNP didn't think Iraq, which has twice been a theatre of operations since the Falklands, didn't warrant a mention.

Oh, and of course, there is the use of the Polish spitfire. And the small matter of them using stock images from America and passing them off as genuine British voters who support their brand of 'patriotism'. If you can't even tell the truth on your election leaflets and posters, what hope is there for you once you've been corrupted by the system...

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