Peter Geoghegan has written a great wee article on his blog about the problem that election posters are getting banned from more and more councils all over Scotland:
But an expert fears that the lack of posters could contribute to lower turnouts and have a deleterious effect on Scottish democracy.
“People often don’t pay attention to politics. They need every reminder they can get (to turn out to vote). One way of reminding people is by posters in localities. It is important for democratically getting people out to vote and mobilising them,” says Alistair Clark, senior lecturer in politics at Newcastle University.
While councils cite the cost of removing posters, there already exists legislation requiring parties to remove election material after polls close.
There appears to be little party political variation on the decision to ban political posters with councils of all strips across Scotland outlawing them.
The outlawing of election material on council property means Scotland is out step, both with rest of Europe, where political posters are a common sight, and even other parts of the UK.
I can definitely confirm that election posters are an important part of Danish political campaigning. When I was a political activist there, I never chapped a single door (nobody does that in Denmark), but I spent many hours putting up posters and taking them down again after the election.
Another big difference is that while Scottish election posters are typically small, often just displaying the party logo, Danish ones are generally big, showing a big picture of the candidate and sometimes even a quote or a slogan. The purpose is to make the voters familiar with the candidate before the election, and it’s generally quite effective.
If you saw the text “Kirsten Oswald — SNP” at least 20 times while driving down Ayr Road in Newton Mearns, you’d be unlikely to forget it again.
Anyway, posters are clearly not going to be allowed in time for the Westminster election, but hopefully Holyrood will overrule the councils in the future and allow posters again everywhere in Scotland.