The landscape is changing. Unfortunately it’ll be this way for the next six weeks at least.
Much as I am a passionate fan of democracy, why, oh why do we have to put up with election posters? In these days of social media where we face a barrage of sound and vision, sensory overload you might say, why do I still need to see the faces of our local politicians looking down on me from the lofty height of a lamp post?
There is a further burning question here: What makes politicians think they are so attractive that their picture makes them a vote winner rather than a vote loser?
I can understand why election posters were an important means of communication 50, maybe even 100 years ago but that was before we had the world-wide web. You’ve only to log in to Twitter or Facebook any day or night to see and hear what a politician wants you to know. You can even interact with them directly – if you’ve something to say about their policies you can engage in debate right there. Debate, of course, being a euphemism for all sorts of insult, slagging, ridicule – or indeed support.
So how on earth have election posters survived till now? They are, I believe, incredibly expensive, running to several pounds for each one and the cost of them is a significant chunk of a political party’s campaign funds.
You won’t see them in England and Wales – except on private land. And do politicians still manage to get elected there? Of course they do. And what about the environmental cost? What happens to all those posters when they eventually come down?
In our 18 electoral constituencies we’re probably talking several thousand posters. Assembly elections the figure would be much higher. So where do used posters go? Are they recyclable? Worse than that, drive past the lampposts several years after and you’ll notice the cable ties that were used to tie up the posters are still there! Political parties are obliged to remove the posters but they don’t seem to take the plastic ties with them. It’s easier, it seems, to rip the cardboard poster off and leave the pesky plastic tie behind.
So my proposal is that we make it a criminal offence to leave a cable tie on the lamp post, road sign or wherever else. In short, you put it up, you take it down – all of it. Better still, let’s just outlaw election posters altogether.
During a previous election contest my husband was in a local village about to put a poster on a lamp post. He stood on the garden wall of a private residence to reach up, meanwhile, the woman of the house came into the front room carrying a baby and saw him, and then the poster. The look on her face seemed to be saying “Oh no… six weeks of looking at that?!” My husband duly put the poster up somewhere else!
If we must keep election posters, the person I would most like to see on one is Emmeline Pankhurst. If Emmeline was alive and registered to vote in any of the 18 constituencies here in Northern Ireland, I have no idea who she would vote for. One thing I do know is that she would most definitely vote. And I’m quite sure she would be appalled at the numbers of people - including women - who don’t. So whatever your political allegiance, use your vote on May 7 because women died to give us that right.