By Chris Burgess, PhD Student, University of Nottingham and exhibition curator
1905, used in the 1906 Election
The background to the production of the poster After the War reveals much about how the Labour Party produced posters in the early years of its existence. Unlike its larger Liberal and Conservative rivals, Labour did not have the funds for extravagant spending on pictorial propaganda. Yet it fully understood the importance of a posters ability to speak to the masses. Therefore, the party sought to extract the maximum from every penny it spent on the design and printing of posters.
James Ramsay MacDonald wrote to the printers G.S. Christies in July 1904, detailing precisely what the party wanted its new poster to look like. Ramsay MacDonald – later the first Labour Prime Minister – was a leading light in the party. He was Secretary of the Executive Committee and it was this body, the highest in the party, that discussed and debated the details of every poster produced by the party before 1914.
After the committee had discussed each poster, it was MacDonald’s task to report to the designer or printer any changes that they wanted made. The Committee were frequently unhappy. Throughout 1904, MacDonald wrote to G.S. Christies about the printers sub-standard quality of work. There were complaints about the lack of ‘detail’ in the colours and even problems with the style of costume that people shown in the posters wore. The relationship between Christies and the Labour Party plummet so low that after the printers was destroyed by fire, the Labour Party refused to return to the company once it had been re-established. Another printing company, Blacks, produced the After the War poster.
Sent out approximately every two months.