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John Mumford

This article by John Mumford (pictured) was published in Sovereignty, March 2000.

Posters are an important feature in election campaigns. They show the party is organised and interested and they help electors keep their nerve in voting for a new force. If they convey a political message so much the better. They help get our name into the public consciousness.

Different constituencies have different rules for putting up posters, some banning them on public property. I've had most experience with those placed on lampposts. Sizes tend to be either A2 or A3. In the West Lothian constituencies, posters larger than A3 (Crown size) are banned, which is why I had my own version printed for the Euro Election. Signs for the motorway need to be at least A2 with the message writ large.

Posters should go up at important roundabouts for motorists to see, next in the town and village centres and lastly -- ideally the night before the poll -- at each polling station.

I always used to keep some to replace any that disappeared but if they are put up high enough few do. My own Poster had the message to vote for the party, large enough for motorists to read and Keep the Pound to Save our Democracy written large enough for pedestrians. ("Leave the EU" is as good.) I believe that, in general, A3 posters are large enough to convey the message and are cheaper than A2. I do not think the diamond shaped boards used by the Lib Dems have any advantages.

The best boards for posters are of corrugated plastic, as they are light and durable. They can be made with a message already on them and can also have later versions pasted on.

Failing corrugated plastic, I favour hardboard which is the material I have used the most. Corrugated cardboard is cheaper but does not last long in bad weather. I used to use some on cardboard just for the polling stations and last minute replacements.

I favour tying them with string rather than plastic ties as it is easier to cut them down with a knife taped onto a long stick.

Recipe for Producing Posters on Hardboard.
Note that there are varying qualities of hardboard, any of which will do. A2 sheets need 24" x l8" boards and A3 12" x l8". I buy the largest size of board 48" x 96" from which one can get 10 A2 or 21 A3 boards. I do the job in batches of 40 or 50. A long batten or ruler helps to mark the hardboard. I cut the hardboard with an electric jigsaw, putting the boards over two stobs (4" fence posts) to do it out of doors. The cut is usually a bit jagged depending on the quality of hardboard and the saw blade used. This can be sanded smooth. Then the string holes have to be drilled. I use a 2" batten cut to length with guide holes to get the spacing consistent. I put the holes about 0.75" from the top and bottom, centred 5" apart. I drill the boards with a power drill, in batches of four to speed up the process. If the strings are put on before pasting, then the paper on top is more liable to start coming loose but it also stops the strings pulling out. It also makes it a slower business to replace the strings if they have been cut.

For the pasting, I use heavy duty wallpaper paste mixed thick. Pasted paper expands so a time interval is required between applying the paste and putting it on the board otherwise the paper comes up in bulges. The time varies according to the quality of the paper, the temperature and humidity and the thickness of the paste. However I have found that by the time four posters have had the paste put on them, the first is ready to go on the board. I apply paste to all the sheet taking especial care with the corners which are the most likely to start breaking loose. I usually smooth the sheet down with my hands but a brush or sponge can be used. I leave the boards spread out to dry. Whilst posters on hardboard dry out in about a day, on plastic board it takes longer.

For the strings I favour thickish white parcel string which grips the lampposts very well. I use two, four feet lengths for each board and each length should be wrapped around the lamppost at least twice for strength. I use a flush bladed screwdriver to thread the strings which again helps speed up the process.

To be high enough a ladder is always needed for erecting the boards. It is important to make sure that the base of the ladder will not slip backwards and that the top is centred so that it does not slip sideways. When erecting them alone I use a large artists shoulder bag to carry the posters but a newspapers bag would do as well. Hardboard posters are heavy in quantity. When accompanied the other person carries them whilst I carry the ladder. I keep some spare strings as they sometimes pull out. A Stanley Knife is essential. A brush and some touch up paste in a jar are also a good idea.

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