Drawing history from politics: new book on Conservative Party posters

Posted by pt91 at Jan 31, 2012 03:00 PM |
Leicester academic publishes illustrated history.
Drawing history from politics: new book on Conservative Party posters

Images taken from ‘Dole Queues and Demons’ published by Bodleian Library Publishing © Conservative Party Archive Trust, 2011

Campaign posters have been the most public battlegrounds for political parties, with last year’s General Election drawing comparisons with the 1970s, thanks to the Conservative Party’s return to its 1979 election-winning approach.

A timely reminder of those years and more comes in the form of a new illustrated book by a University of Leicester historian, published by Bodleian Library Publishing, showcasing a history of Conservative Party election posters.

Dr Stuart Ball of the University’s School of Historical Studies gives a striking overview of the evolution of Conservative posters over the last century and their role in bringing the political message of the day to the people.

Vividly demonstrating the unique art of election posters, which blend graphic design, bold art or photography, and advertising psychology, Dole Queues and Demons - British Election Posters from the Conservative Party Archive reproduces nearly 200 of the 650 posters in the vast Conservative Party Archive held at the Bodleian Library, many of which have never before been shown in print.

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© Conservative Party Archive Trust, 2011

From Lloyd George’s 'People’s Budget' of 1909 and Stanley Baldwin steering the country to safety in 1929, to a voter struggling to switch off his rising electricity price in 1974 (the last time the UK had a hung parliament), the messages of these posters are clear and accessible to all. And there is the occasional illustration of how dramatically attitudes have changed, such as a heavily stereotyped depiction of imports from China in 1909/10 that would never be seen today.

Divided into chapters along political periods, the book highlights the changing fashions in and attitudes to advertising, design, political ideology, slogans, combativeness and above all, propriety. Each chapter includes a brief introduction discussing the major themes of the period as well as captions explaining specific issues related to the individual posters.

Lavishly illustrated, Dole Queues and Demons gives a fascinating insight into the issues and strategies of the Conservative Party throughout the twentieth century, and up to the present day. The book is available from the University of Leicester bookshop.

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