Tories' first Corbyn attack advert - and other memorable political posters

The Week looks back at some of the best and worst examples of campaign propaganda

Corbyn Advert
(Image credit: Conservative Party)

The first attack ad of this year's general election has been released, with the Tories placing a picture of Jeremy Corbyn over an image of a bomb alongside the slogan: "No bombs for our army, one big bombshell for your family."

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Although the focus of the advert's words is economic, "the bomb is likely to have been included as a way of reminding people of Corbyn's pacifist views", says The Guardian.

Brexit Secretary David Davis added fire to the poster's message, saying: "Jeremy Corbyn's nonsensical and irresponsible ideas pose a grave risk to the future of Britain's economy and the finances of every family in the country."

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A Labour spokesman said the Tories were attempting to distract attention from the fact that Prime Minister Theresa May has not ruled out tax increases.

"Their false claims about Labour's plans in this campaign haven’t been worth the paper they've been printed on," he said.

Hard-hitting posters attacking Labour on the economy have worked for the Conservatives in the past, says the Daily Telegraph, while Jolyon Green, Labour's former head of press operations, says the ad is effective because it combines a number of perceived weaknesses on the side of the Labour party.

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Pre-election propaganda has been a staple of the UK political system for many years. Here are some of the more memorable examples.

And now – win the peace (1945)

Still referred to as Labour's finest hour, the 1945 election saw Clement Atlee snatch power from war hero Winston Churchill and the Conservatives. Their campaign poster focused on rebuilding peacetime Britain following years of hardship during World War II and captured the desire for a change in the country's leadership.

Labour isn't working (1979)

A billboard reading 'Labour Isn't Working', a Conservative Party run advertising campaign designed by the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency for the 1979 general election,11th August 1978.

(Image credit: 2015 Getty Images)

Margaret Thatcher famously rejected this poster, reports The Guardian, telling its designer, Saatchi & Saatchi's Tim Bell: "You know perfectly well that you should never have the other side's name in your own poster."

Bell fought his corner and the Tory leader eventually relented, resulting in the poster being used throughout her successful 1979 election campaign.

It was the first partnership in a long and largely fruitful marriage between the design company and the Conservatives, "helping the party win the next four elections and the agency grow into a global behemoth", says the Guardian.

Get out and vote. Or they get in (2001)

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM:A man puts up a billboard showing the face of Conservative leader William Hague and former Prime minister Margaret Tatchers hair in the West London suburb of Ealing, 30

(Image credit: This content is subject to copyright.)

Perhaps the first victim of the Photoshop generation, Conservative leader William Hague was placed front and centre of Labour's campaigning in 2001. Harking back to the days of Thatcher, the ad saw Hague sporting an impressive bouffant and alongside a very simple message.

Year for change (2010)

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 25:A billboard poster of Conservative party leader David Cameron is vandalised on January 25, 2010 in Edinburgh, Scotland.The Conservatives admitted that t

(Image credit: 2010 Getty Images)

Perhaps better known for the subsequent Photoshop edits rather than its initial message, this 2010 poster initially saw the Conservatives pilloried in the press for having "retouched" an image of David Cameron.

But the internet quickly seized upon a different method of subverting the Conservative message, by simply replacing the words on the poster.

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The new images were one of the first political memes, with the production of spoofs accelerated by a website allowing anyone to make their own version of the posters.

Vote Conservative (2015)

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The most iconic poster of the 2015 campaign epitomised the Tories' main line of attack against a Ed Miliband's Labour.

"What makes the poster so impressive is that they have managed to bring to life the possibility that a vote for Labour could help usher the SNP into Downing St without even using a headline," writes Political Advertising.

"In one foul swoop it damned Miliband's leadership credentials, excited the SNP activist base in Scotland and distracted Labour from their NHS-led campaign and forced them onto the back foot."

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