I always think it is a pity that they don't have political postcards any more. Back in the early days of the twentieth century, if you wanted to make a political point to your Uncle Fred, you could seek out an appropriate postcard, pen a suitable curt message on the back and consign it to the post. One hundred years ago, there were a whole range of postcards representing a whole range of political viewpoints : you just plucked your argument off the display stand, stamped it and sent it. Over the decades, the practice fell out of fashion (although in the 1960s I do recall a particularly eccentric Professor of Philosophy who would send me postcards with his latest counter-arguments to my perfectly rational radical views). I suppose the modern equivalent is to post a YouTube video, but it just doesn't seem the same to me.
The postcard featured above comes from my collection and was postally used in 1904. It relates to the argument which, at the time, was destroying the Conservative Government led by Arthur Balfour. The Conservative Party was being torn apart by the clash between free trade and tariff reform. Balfour tried to be clever by allowing the chief proponent of tariff reform in his Cabinet, Joseph Chamberlain, to tour the country speaking in favour of protectionism whilst he and the rest of the Cabinet sat on the fence and waited to see what the electoral response would be (is there nothing new in politics?). The postcard shows Chamberlain in the water whilst Balfour and the rest look on undecided.
Balfour's attempt to stand back whilst others tested the political water ended in one of the biggest ever landslide victories for the Liberals in the 1906 election. Perhaps the moral of the story is it is better to be decisive and loose than to vacillate and be routed. Now, are you listening Gordon?
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THE THOUGHTS OF CHAIRMAN BILL : Vacillation is not part of the vocabulary of my blogging friend Chairman Bill. 100 years ago he would be sending postcards out every day, his twenty first century equivalent is a blog well worth visiting.
RAMSEY MACDONALD AND A BOTTLE OF BEER : From the News From Nowhere Archives - more adventures in the land of the political postcard.