A tale from Chesham & Amersham – double or nothing

All photos: All rights reserved by Simon Foster, used with kind permission

I’d never done stake boarding before on such a large scale. Yes, I’d put up the odd stake. So when the chance came to visit Chesham and Amersham, I thought I’d just pop in and show my face.

However, our by-election team doesn’t quite work like that.

Firstly, they’re incredibly welcoming. The sign of a good campaign is that it is geared up to help. From the brilliant front of house reception in the form of Chessie, to the stake board officer, to the team of ordinary volunteers, there was a real buzz about the place.

So, I enjoyed it so much I came back again.

Then came the request from Candy Piercy that it was all hands on deck. I knew it was important to go back. Coordinating things with Southampton, we managed to get 3 cars and 6 activists up the following weekend.

Staking went well. We particularly enjoyed visiting the lapsed member (he’s rejoining BTW) who lived next to a Conservative Councillor, and asked for everything we had left spare in the car at the end of Saturday.

We were a bit confused when he asked for an extra stake board to go out back and pointed out nobody would see it. “Except for one person” he replied “It will be less than 10 foot from her front door…”

Apparently she took it well.

The next morning, Andy Day, one of our Southampton activists convinced me to go back with him the Sunday before polling day. We had a cracking day, visiting 40 properties, getting 40+ new stakeboards up at over 30 properties.

On the last call of Sunday, we went to the roundabout outside of Chesham. Four of our superboards had come down. So we came up with the following policy, which is the point of this article – Double or Nothing.

The idea is very simple – whenever a poster or stake board comes down, at least double goes up in its place. So four super boards had come down. Which meant eight were going back up again.

Whilst putting them up, an older gentleman approached us. He claimed we were fly-posting, and took photos of us both. We said we weren’t – we had permission from the landowner. He repeated his claim and demanded to know who had given us permission to put up eight super boards.

Channelling my inner Mark Pack, I replied “a Mr GDPR…”

He claimed our previous super signs had been torn down for fly-posting and we could collect them from the council offices. Naturally I reported this to the campaign team afterwards

He then said I was damaging the wall by drilling into it. I wasn’t – I had been briefed just to drill into the vines. He appeared to be a little annoyed about the number of screws I was using. For the record, it was 50 screws along with some cable ties – when it goes back up, it stays back up.

Finally, he claimed that we weren’t going to win, and the voters of Chesham and Amersham would never elect a Lib Dem MP.

If the gentleman out there is reading this, I’ll let the result speak for itself.

So this is my proposal from the by-election. Every time anyone tears down our posters, removes our stakes or attacks our super boards, we put up double the amount.

Double or nothing. They’ll soon get the message.

* Simon Foster is a lecturer in Politics and Economics, and has published twenty-five books on Politics, PSHE and Citizenship.

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Always heart-warming to see orange diamonds going up at election time. It is an important part of campaign psychology. Important that every party maintains a list of stakeboard addresses for future campaigning.

  • Orange is definitely the way to go. Could someone therefore explain the obsession with yellow for most other things eg rosettes. Never one for seeing branding as the most important thing but I can see the sense in consistency.

  • John Marriott 22nd Jun '21 - 10:05pm

    You know when you’ve been tangoed!

  • David, yellow is a primary colour, thus suitable for one of the main parties. But what’s more important, it is the colour that is the most visible to the human eye, thus making it a good way to distinguish from others using less conspicuous colours.

  • Nom de Plume 23rd Jun '21 - 11:36am

    I think colour scheme is good – orange for large signs and yellow for rosettes. If I were to see a row of big, bright yellow diamonds, I would feel the need for sunglasses but a small rossete needs a colour which will attract attention to it.

  • Simon Foster 24th Jun '21 - 12:26pm

    I’m with the orange large, yellow small crowd for the record 😉

  • Day Glo Orange for all posters as far as I am concerned.

    In the recent County elections one of our Divisions (where we increased our majority from 84 to 836) had nearly 100 houses with window posters and/or Correx Boards. The first surge came from small diamonds enclosed with a letter to Supporters (something I first did in 1987 to use up offcuts left over from printing Posters on A4 paper). Many are willing to ‘upgrade’ when asked but even at the smallest size they ‘blaze’ out of windows and are instantly recognisable at a distance because of colour and shape.

    The drive, long ago now, to get us all to switch to yellow to match ‘official Party yellow’ has thankfully been abandoned.

  • Simon Foster 24th Jun '21 - 3:19pm

    Just provided its not purple and white (significant glance at North Devon remembering Sir Graham Watson getting elected amongst our first MEPs in 1994 for Somerset and North Devon).

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