Earlier this month I highlighted how election posters in Australia, and other countries, feature close up head shots of candidates in a way that is almost completely unknown in the UK.
Large head and shoulders photographs did, however, previously feature heavily in our election literature – on leaflets if not posters. For decades many leaflets look like this effort from Sir W Lacon Threlford who was standing for election as a City of London Alderman in 1935:
Pausing for a moment of sympathy for the clerical helpers who had to correct the polling hours on the leaflet, it is notable that his name is not clearly presented anywhere on the front of the leaflet and his signature is not the most readable.
The reverse of the leaflet does give his name, along with a write-up of reasons to vote for him:
The underlying messages here are very similar to those used by candidates now: went to school here, worked here, active in local organisation, active in worthy organisation, impressive career, served country, generous person and so on. The language and phrasing is very different, and no web address, reply slip or bar chart in sight.
So just for a bit of fun, how you would present this record in a modern election campaign?
(Sir W Lacon Threlford’s name lives on, by the way, in the form of the Chartered Institute of Linguists which he formed and which has a regular Threlford Lecture in his memory.)