Liberals and Tories row over national debt

Paying down the national debt: it’s always been a controversial issue. Here’s a Liberal poster (from the 1886 general election?) attacking the Tories for their failure to clear our debts:

liberal tory national debt 1885

For balance, here’s a Tory poster (from the same year?) accusing the Liberals of being high-spenders:

tory liberal national spend 1886

The nature of the debate doesn’t change much, but I think it’s fair to say they knew how to design political posters in those days. And in some ways we’re going back to the future as political parties make greater use of infographics to communicate messages which don’t fit into snappy one-line slogans.

(The images above are both from the LSE’s fascinating digitised collection of tariff reform posters.)

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Paul in Twickenham 28th Apr '13 - 11:21am

    The Liberal bar chart has a zero base, the Tory bar chart starts at 73! Plus ça change…

  • paul barker 28th Apr '13 - 1:50pm

    @ Stephen W, we should remember the much smaller Electorate they were appealing to, somewhere between 10 & 20% of the adult population,we arent comparing like with like.

  • If you assume the electorate are stupid, and create political advertising that treats them like idiot children, then you have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. If, on the other hand, you actually use advertising to raise the electorate’s political intelligence, you might have a competition by the parties to use verifiable facts and figures to support their stances.

    I should add that, after 1884, the electorate as a percentage of the adult population was more like 30% (or 60% of adult males).

    Was red really associated with the Liberals in 1886, or was this just an arbitrary color choice that both chart-makers happened to use?

  • Ken Palmerton 29th Apr '13 - 2:22pm

    To answer David. Yes, Red WAS the Liberals campaigning colour up until the time labour stole it. And is the reason Rochdale still stick to it. Along with black, the old radical campaigning colour.


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