Election 2015

Election 2015: Classic campaign posters

Labour election poster 2015 Image copyright Labour/PA

In an era of social media marketing and viral online videos it seemed the traditional election poster was becoming more of a campaigning tool of the past.

But now the Labour party has turned to Saatchi and Saatchi's iconic image of the dole queue from the 1979 election to promote its policies on the NHS.

So how much power have posters had in swaying votes? Professor Steven Fielding, director of the centre for British politics at the University of Nottingham has had a look back through the archives at some of the adverts that caused a stir.


Labour 1945

Image copyright People's History Museum
Image caption "This is a really striking image. It's as simple as you can get. The Labour party were trading on the war effort and they very cleverly appropriated the war for their own political purposes."

Labour 1959

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption "It's interesting that both Labour and the Conservatives were using similar language in their posters at this time. Both were claiming things would be 'better' with them. It really shows that there actually wasn't much difference between them at this time."

Liberal 1979

Image copyright Liberal Party
Image caption "The Liberals wanted to show themselves as the alternative option here and this is very similar to how the Liberal Democrats are portraying themselves in this election. Nick Clegg is very much reinventing this message."

Conservative 1979

Image copyright Conservative Party Archives
Image caption "This is one of the most famous election posters. It was an attack advert and it was not just on billboards but there was also a film version that played in cinemas. It played on people's fears and ultimately it was a very successful campaign but you could argue it was an open door for the Tories as Labour had just collapsed."

1997

Image copyright People's History Museum / PA
Image caption "You see a very Kennedy-esque Tony Blair in this campaign. He wanted to show himself as the man who would make a change and generate optimism. He looks ready for work with his jacket off and sleeves rolled up. The Tories of course wanted to show him as deceptive and altered his image to make him into a demon. This of course backfired and Blair proved very popular at this time and took lots of Tory votes."

2010

Image copyright Conservative Party
Image caption "This Conservative poster was widely criticised because of David Cameron's airbrushed appearance. There were lots of spoof versions going around on the internet and of course Labour responded quickly with their own counter poster."
Image copyright Labour Party
Image caption "There was a lot of image politics going on with Labour trying to sell Gordon Brown's experience over his appearance."

UKIP 2014

Image copyright UKIP
Image caption "UKIP were breaking the fourth wall with this poster. The pointing finger is referencing the Kitchener call to war poster from 1914 and here again we see another poster message that plays on people's fears. The party wanted to address immigration issues head on ahead of the Euro elections but this feels much more threatening."