Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Electrifying railways – Forward with Labour – inspired by Lilian

Back in the days when I was a Labour Party agent for local elections and then a councillor in Birmingham and Nottingham, I always used 'campaign' postcards. They were cheap and easy to produce in the days when colour was an impossible luxury. I could easily print fifty or two hundred at home for a specific street or event.
I got the idea from poll-cards. Once upon a time, these were not produced and distributed by local councils. You had to do your own if you wanted them. Party members would come together in Labour halls and clubs and use marked electoral rolls to write names and addresses onto poll-cards by hand. They were social occasions, when Party members got to know one another better over cake and refreshments. I remember writing up poll-cards (and 'Reading pads' for election day) with a big smile on my face.

People would take them into the polling station to use when marking their ballot papers (back then, just the names of the candidates were listed on the ballot paper. Descriptions and party logos were added in the 1970s if I remember correctly). As they left the polling station, they would hand the card to the Labour Party person standing there. The cards were then collected and taken back to the committee room. It was a quick and efficient way of working and a sign of good organisation.
In the mid-1980s, my Susan computerised the process and in all the elections I was the Party Agent for in the then Portland ward in Nottingham I continued to produce poll-cards. I still would. Anyway, it wasn't much of a leap to turn poll-cards into campaign postcards and I have been thinking about how the idea could still be used.

Well, today I got my answer, thanks to a snippet I heard on BBC East Midlands Today's lunchtime news about how Lilian Greenwood, now the Labour Party's Shadow Minister of Transport, was challenging the Conservatives to explain why they were not going ahead with railway electrification and the government minister responding said something like 'It will go ahead, it's just on pause',

'Pause' sums up almost perfectly what has happened to Britain under the Conservatives. Life has been on pause for most of us, and for a good few going backwards! None of it necessary and, ever since it was introduced as the answer to the economic crisis created by the banks and corporate capitalism, I have opposed 'austerity' as a policy. 
Giving banks trillions was a big big mistake. The money should have gone to investing in housing, transport and many other things we needed (and still need), so I am delighted to hear the Labour Party now saying these things.

At the beginning of the Labour Party Leadership contest Susan and I were with Andy Burnham. He was our choice in 2010, but we drifted away from him in the absence of his offering little that was new. In the end we both voted for Jeremy Corbyn and I was very pleased when Andy Burnham and Lilian Greenwood joined Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet. It is going to be hard for the next four years, but I really do believe it is possible to win in 2020, despite the Parliamentary boundary changes and the mountain Labour has to climb in Scotland.
From the news item about Lilian and railway electrification has come these four 'campaign postcards' 2015 style in this post. I think postcards could be used in Beeston and Broxtowe for local Labour campaigns. One final point, the reverse side can be used for punchy text and the name of the local area they are being delivered in.

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