Polls will open four weeks today on Thursday 12 December, with printed matter once again playing a key role as the political parties vie to get their messages across. It is the fourth national poll in five years.
Some candidates had already started sending out materials before the election was officially called in anticipation of the move and to avoid falling foul of spending limits; while Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn has also added to the political print paraphernalia by issuing a 4pp A4 leaflet, printed by Sterling Press in Kettering, ahead of the capital's mayoral election in May 2020.
One print boss said his business had experienced its biggest day of mailing prior to parliament being dissolved, “because everyone wanted to spend as much as possible before the election was called”.
The Liberal Democrats appear to be making the biggest use of print so far, based on materials gathered by Printweek, and is using a wide range of print tactics. Paragon Customer Communications has produced A4 format doordrops for the party, which is majoring on leader Jo Swinson’s ‘a better future’ messaging.
Whittington Moor Printing Works in Chesterfield has also printed mailed promos for the LibDems, as has London’s Park Communications.
Two rival candidates for the same constituency have both turned to Southend-on-Sea’s Solopress, with Labour’s Ruth Cadbury hoping to retain the Brentford and Isleworth seat opting for a pre-election 4pp A4 format leaflet in a green colourway, rather than Labour’s traditional red. Tory rival Seena Shah’s DL election leaflet was also printed by Solopress.
Apart from a host of printers being involved with the production of doordrops and mailers, Kremer Signs in Newbury said it was currently “inundated” with requests from political parties for estate agent style boards.
Some candidates have clearly focused on local sourcing, with Labour’s Angela Wilkins, a candidate in Bromley and Chislehurst, printing with T&C Printers in Bromley. Wimbledon Labour Party used local firm Coombe Stationers & Printers in West Wimbledon.
At least one Brexit Party candidate has failed on that front, with Unite deputy general secretary Tony Burke tweeting that the candidate for Carshalton & Wallington, James Woudhuysen, had his leaflets printed by Vistaprint in the Netherlands.
However, Woudhuysen hit back at criticism from the local Labour Party.
As a Dutch Jew, delighted you shoot yourself in the foot for everyone to see. You say you're internationalists who want more #trade with, and to #Remain in, the #EU. But if an EU citizen gets a leaflet printed, fast, in the UK, that's too, er, "cosmopolitan" for you? pic.twitter.com/sxFOOUTzxF— James Woudhuysen | Carshalton&Wallington (@TBPCarshWall) November 9, 2019
Registration for candidates wishing to stand in the election closes at 4pm today (14 November).
The printing of poll cards, ballot papers and postal voting packs is handled by local councils and outsourced to a range of specialists. "More people could theoretically decide to vote by post given the time of year," commented one direct mail expert.