Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Harry Kemp asks for your vote ................ November 1 1904

Now I have always been fascinated by elections and election material and in particular how political parties have presented themselves to the electorate and in the process the promises they made, and what they said about their opponents.

Election Address, 1904
I don’t share that cynical outlook about politicians.  In my experience the ones I have known were decent honest people who went into the hurly burly of elections and public life with a desire to make things better.

And so I have decided to spend a bit of time looking at some of the election material that has come through the doors over the last century and a bit.

This is the election address of the three Progressive candidates who stood for election here in Chorlton in 1904.

This was the first local election after we had voted to join the city of Manchester and of the six candidates who put themselves forward, three were Progressives, two Conservatives and one an Independent.

The three Progressive candidates stood on the platform of advancing “good government” which involved “exercising a rigorous protest against extravagance” and “preserving as far as possible the residential character” of Chorlton coupled with the need for “adequate Schools, Libraries, Open Spaces, Public Baths and everything which counts for the better health and morality of the people”

The result was one of those odd outcomes with one Progressive, one Conservative and the Independent being elected.

And during the next two decades elections continued to be dominated by the Conservatives, the Progressives and Independents.

The content of that leaflet is thoughtful balanced and pretty straightforward.

Not for Mr Kemp and his colleagues the cry of “Stop the Labour Rot” from a Conservative leaflet in 1980.

That said there is a skill in writing election leaflets and balancing the national with the local, the knocking copy with the positive, and pitching the personality against the issues.

Vote for the "The Three Progessives"
It helps of course if like Me Kemp the candidate is well known.

He ran the chemist’s shop on the corner of Barlow Moor and Wilbraham Roads which for decades was a popular meeting place and called simply “Kemp’s Corner.”

It’s less helpful if you are coming from behind and attempting to establish a legitimacy.

And that brings me to that leaflet from a party which asserts that they are the main contender to the Labour Party.

Now certainly since the collapse of the Tory vote there have been elections where the Lib Dems have come close to winning and indeed have done so, but I wondered about the most recent manifestation of this clam which fell through the door yesterday.  The graph is clear enough ”Lab 1st, Lib Dem 2nd Grn 3rd Con 4th” but I was a little uneasy at the way the bar chart was presented with the Greens well below the Lib Dems.

Who won what and where they finished up, 2015
So I went back to the election results for last year and discovered that while the Lib Dems polled 1,618 votes the Greens got 1,610.*

All very curious and that has taken me back to all the other Chorlton election stories that have appeared in the blog and will do so again.

Location, Chorlton

Pictures; election address, 1904 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Local Election Results 2015, Manchester City Council, http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/362/elections_and_voting/4658/previous_election_results/3

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