Another way that political posters may backfire

By Jonathan Bartley
April 5, 2010

Political posters, it is being suggested, will play the greatest role at this election that in any other since 1992.

This has of course a lot to do with the way the internet and social networking are being used, the spoofs and the way that the campaigns have the potential to backfire.

But what the parties that are spending millions on poster campaigns may not also be aware of, is the additional message that they are sending out in the current climate to people on the streets.

I was chatting to someone yesterday, who is not party political at all. Looking at the Tory poster condemning Gordon Brown over the national debt, she remarked: “That's rich. How can they justify wasting so much money (on posters)?”

Of course the money being spent on posters does not come directly from the public purse. But that isn’t the point that was being made. It is more a case of “doing one thing whilst saying another” for many voters. (Sound familiar?).

Posters are not seen as an efficient use of money, at a time when parties are trying to convince taxpayers that they will be efficient with their cash if elected. The posters may also be taken as evidence of further ‘frivolity’ by politicians who have already been challenged about their care-free attitude to money over MPs expenses.

The parties may of course, be fully aware of this, and be making a political calculation that they stand to benefit more than lose.

But it is worth reflecting who stands to lose out the most.

It will be probably be the parties:

- Who use posters most negatively.

- Who are seen to be spending the most money.

- Who simultaneously put the greatest emphasis on ‘efficiency’ and ‘care’ with finances.

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