As the UK gets ready to go to the polls on the 7th May find out how the Library’s resources shine a light on past elections.
Election Campaign materials
- One of the treasures of the collection is the archive of election ephemera containing promotional leaflets and addresses made by candidates since the 19th Century.
- The poster on the left was produced by George Allsopp, Conservative and Unionist candidate for Worcester in 1892. It was successful as he was re-elected and held the seat until he retired in 1906!
- More dramatic is the Political thunderbolt (1892) from the ‘Common Sense Society’ which contains a plan for putting 200 working men in parliament. Other interesting early examples include a 1857 pamphlet from the 86 year-old socialist Robert Owen whose qualification is a long life ‘discovering the true laws of humanity, the good formation of character and the right construction of society’ (p.3). The language used and dense wording of these texts appear very different to recent examples (Electionleaflet.org) offering fascinating insight into the evolution of political communication. Notice for instance that Allsop’s example is addressed to ‘gentlemen’ as only men owning land worth more than £10 or paying a rent of over £10 were eligible to vote.
For further research try:
- Browsing LSE Library search. There are some digitised examples of advice in producing posters (1906).
- Our historic newspaper collections contain contemporary biographies of candidates, results and analysis. Times (5th December 1892) has a report of how Mr Allsop’s campaign was cleared of an accusation of ’93 cases of bribery using drink’!
- Richard Kimber’s website has party manifestos from 1945 onwards.
- For examples of TV campaigns try Box of Broadcasts. This has has party broadcasts from 2010 onwards as well as news and debates.
- For insight into voters’ attitudes, an excellent resource is the British Election Study which has been collecting data since 1963. Recent surveys have included opinions on party leaders and broadcasts. Datasets are available from the UK Data Archive.
- House of Commons Library papers provide a good introduction. Election statistics 1918-2012 has key data on overall results and turnout.
- For more in-depth analysis, some recommended series include: the Nuffield election studies which have been published since 1945. Britain Votes and British Parliamentary results from FMW Craig which has constituency level data from 1832 onwards. Datasets from this can be downloaded via the UK Data archive
And don’t forget
- Our newspaper and TV databases will help you keep up to date with forthcoming election events!