How election leaflets used to look: Doncaster 1950

Previously I’ve dug out a City of London Alderman election leaflet from the 1930s which showed how many of the message in election leaflets have stayed the same over the decades, even if the presentation has changed massively.

This time I’ve dug out a single-sided leaflet from Doncaster in 1950, for Labour MP Ray Gunter who was moving seat from Essex to northern England following the redrawing of boundaries.

It is typical of a style of leaflet that last for many years after women were first given* the right to vote in Parliamentary elections – from the wife of a candidate to the women voters in a constituency, taking as its implicit message, ‘You and I might not know about the politics men get up to, but we know there are other things that matter too…’.

An explicit appeal from a partner is now a rarity, though there are faint echoes of it in the popularity now of endorsements for a candidate from people who are well known in an area or experts in a particular field.

Doncaster election leaflet, 1950 general election

* Or, strictly speaking, restored the right to vote, as there is scattered thin evidence that women very occasionally voted in Parliamentary elections prior to 1832.

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  • ‘An explicit appeal from a partner is now a rarity,’

    I don’t think that’s true – Sarah Brown for one. Fion Hague for another. Samantha Cameron has not exactly kept out of the media either.

    More generally – the more interesting question is if the internet had been around in 1950 (or at another time) what would the comments and ‘narrative’ of internet commentary be? I would suggest that Clem Attlee would have been a hate figure like no other. But what would the internet have made of Suez, the EEC referendum, Jeremy Thorpe, the Miners Strike? Of course, one can not apply the standards of today to the past, but it makes for an interesting counterfactual.

  • Tony Greaves 23rd Feb '11 - 3:34pm

    I think people should actually read Elsie Gunter’s message and ponder the changed political environment rather than the medium of communication.

    Tony Greaves

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