An American campaign idea that never really took off in the UK

Spotted in Oakland ahead of the 2014 round of November elections in ballots:

Oakland Campaign Office sign

The use of handwritten signs to give a campaign a grassroots appearance has long been popular in American politics. It is one tactic though that hasn’t become a successful import to British campaigning. Although hand drawn signs have been, are and still will be occasionally seen, the attempt to introduce them on a much larger scale was a flop.

The reason? There was a poorly done New Labour attempt to make this a common tactic here, with party staff and well known activists promenading with pre-prepared signs written to careful party instruction and quickly rumbled by the media and opponents. As a result, rather than giving a grassroots feel to campaigning, they gave a fake feel to it – and a fake feel that got attention given the then wider narrative about New Labour spinning – and so didn’t become a success.

What has instead been much more successful is the use of hand drawn signs internally, to motivate campaign volunteers. But externally, campaign windows such as this one from Oakland are still a rarity in the UK.

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