Party political messages that make up manifesto designs

Whoever said don’t judge a book by its cover wasn’t thinking of political manifestos. The design semiotics of the main parties’ manifestos leaves you in no doubt as to their underlying philosophies.

Party divisions: The design of each party’s manifesto says much about its underlying philosophies

On the left of the political spectrum, Labour has a post-war socialist look, complete with family staring towards a milk-and-honey future. Primary colours, inclusive typeface and sunburst represent the future/ Labour wants to tell us it has a positive plan for the future. The passive role of the family in the midst of this almost religious burst of “future wholesomeness” states quite clearly, however, that it is they, not us, that own the plan.

By contrast, the Conservatives seek to convince a thoroughly disillusioned and cynical electorate that post credit crunch, post-Parliament expense scandals, politicians “get it”. Instead of sunny optimism we get sober and serious dark blue, hard back, tight leading, capitals and “an invitation”.

Reminiscent of 18th century radical reformists pamphlets in its earnest modesty, the manifesto seeks to win us over with its humble and low-key approach. We don’t have the answer or the grand plan, we need you.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats’ ultra-utilitarian manifesto has all the style and appeal of an NHS waiting card. Lots of white space, high street Helvetica and the unfortunate, unnecessary swish of the uncreative.

The unconscious design philosophy here is we are so honest and fair and straightforward that we don’t need to do anything other than tell people our ideas: and we will be believed. Maybe, but it’s also dead boring.
Sunny, serious or dull, we can all vote on it on the 6 May.

Simon Myers Figtree

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