Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A little bit of how elections used to be fought, out with Dr. I. Richmond in the November of 1946

It is 67 years since Dr I Richmond, JP stood for election in the Kirkdale Ward.

I have no idea whether he was elected and without a lot of research I guess I never will.
But it is one of those fascinating little documents which shed light on how we organised elections for most of the 20th century.

Dr Richmond’s party workers would have been engaged for the month running up to the election knocking on doors, combing the records of previous elections, and then delivering this card to remind the elector to vote Labour.

It contained information on where to vote, and when to vote and of course that all important picture and name of the candidate.

And all the political parties did the same with varying degrees of activity circumscribed only by money, the number of activists and the likelihood of success.

There would have been public meetings some of which would have been in the open air, along with processions part carnival and part political.

An in each ward and each constituency across the country thousands of these reminders would fall through letter boxes in the days before the election, but I doubt many have survived.

Some will have made their way into local history archives, some into museums and a few will still be in a corner of a draw or in an old keepsake box.

This one had rested in a book for fifty years until I discovered it.

Today the successor to this card will still fall through the door, but much else has changed in how the parties go about the task of winning votes.

True they still knock on doors, will collect your polling card from the voting stations and will have pushed endless leaflets through letter boxes.

But the message is more often delivered in broadcasts on the television, through phone calls and the carefully rehearsed sound bite delivered during an interview.

There are still the occasional public meetings but they are much rarer than they were and while politicians will still turn up at local events they will also have offered up their opinions on a web site or a blog.

Now I am not one of those that lament the passing of the old ways, they in their time were a direct advance on how electioneering had worked in the late 19th century.
Instead I just enjoy coming across the election material of that past like this one from the Labour candidate

Dr I Richmond in the November of 1946.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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