As the Irish general election leaflet website put it:
Election leaflets are one of the main weapons in the fight for votes.
They are targeted, effective and sometimes very bitter.
We need your help to photograph, scan and record them so we can keep an eye on what the parties are up to, and try to keep them honest.
The website – brought to you by the same folks as Kildare Street – managed to get 254 leaflets recorded back in February – by voters simply scanning or photographing and then following a simple procedure to upload the communication. Thus, a greater number of people are enabled to scrutinise said leaflets for dodgy claims, dodgy photographs and dodgy spelling.
The equivalent UK website hasn’t yet managed to record quite so many leaflets from NI this election-time. A grand total of zero so far, as far as I can see (until I just added one, that is), although they have a a couple of dozen from last year’s Westminster poll outing. But there’s still plenty of time, so I thought I’d give it this plug.
Let’s not forget Northern Ireland’s glorious election leaflet history, even in recent times. Just last year, we had the Allister v Ian Jr spat which made it to the High Court back in April 2010. (Allister lost. Again.) This was the disputed leaflet, by the way. Justice Gillen, refusing Allister’s attempt to secure an injunction, noted:
In my view electioneering statements should not be perused with all the precision of a jeweller’s scales.
Fair enough, but there are limits. Remember the 2005 leaflet being distributed in South Antrim, in Alliance colours, but with an anti-Alliance message – David Ford pointed the finger at the Ulster Unionists: a “dirty tricks campaign designed to help the UUP”. Although, as far as I recall, no-one was ever brought to book for that one.
Whether you want to upload them to electionleaflets.org to help create a searchable database for the purposes of greater political scrutiny … or just to yfrog to generate a laugh, please do. @stewartfinn from Team Purvis did the latter via Twitter with this gem from Michael McGimpsey:
Un-noteworthy, apart from the typographical brilliance of getting ‘Finlay 2’ so small! You see, an election leaflet can say so much, even if it doesn’t always mean to…
Anyway, use whatever service you like to record and share your election leaflets, but if there are any of note, please use this thread to link and comment.
I am the Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK and an occasional human rights blogger at Amnesty Blogs: Belfast & Beyond.
I’m on Twitter at @PatrickCorrigan