Political memorabilia suggests not much has changed in the art of electioneering in a century

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With The Budget out of the way, the countdown to a General Election in 2015 has, say commentators, begun.

And a collection of political memorabilia – which will go under the hammer in the Cotswolds – suggests not much has changed in the art of electioneering in 100 years.

Posters and pamphlets from the General Election of 1910 recall the attempt by a Liberal barrister called Walter J Burt to unseat Neville Chamberlain’s brother Austen – of the Conservative allies the Liberal Unionists – in Worcestershire.

The government called the election in the midst of a constitutional crisis caused by the rejection of the People’s Budget by the House of Lords. And campaigning material refers to the ‘greed’ of the Lords.

One poster reads: ‘Mr Austen Chamberlain’s Confession (At Hackney November 26 1909) “I am a food-taxer” Are you? If not, Vote for Burt.’

Meanwhile a hard-hitting pamphlet declares: “They (the Lords) want to control the finance of the country – and why?

“Their only real reason is that the Dukes and the Landowners are asked to contribute a fair share towards the taxation of the country – taxation necessary for the country’s defence and Old Age Pensions.

“Vote for the Liberal and the People’s Rights.”

One thing that’s missing from campaigning nowadays is a rousing singalong, and ahead of September’s referendum supporters of, or opponents to, Scottish independence might be interested in four lyric sheets proclaiming the virtues of James Aytoun.

Aytoun stood – unsuccessfully – in the first Edinburgh election after the Reform Act of 1832, when the number of parliamentary seats increased from one to two.

One song opens: “The Whigs think they are grand and great, but O’ they’re proud and idly gaudy. How much unlike the manly gait, of Aytoun our dear Union Laddie.”

It didn’t do much good, though. Edinburgh continued to return Whigs to Parliament until the end of the 19th century.

The collection also includes some more modern mementoes, including a print of June Mendoza’s famous painting The House of Commons, 1986, which shows Parliament in session, with Margaret Thatcher at the dispatch box.

Not all MPs were lucky enough to be immortalised: rank and file parliamentarians were chosen by ballot. But former statesmen including Bevan, Cromwell, Attlee, Chamberlain, Gladstone, Macmillan, Churchill, Pitt the Younger and Disraeli managed to sneak in, and can be found in The Gallery.

There’s also a pen and ink from The Economist’s cartoonist Kal (Kevin Kallaugher) called Welcome to Hong Kong, featuring former foreign secretary Geoffrey Howe as a doormat.

The whole collection carries an estimate of £100 to £150.

From gauging the mood of the nation to gauging the weather, a ceramic barometer and thermometer – along with a clock – by The Royal Derby Porcelain Company, should achieve between £500 and £700.

The pieces were produced in limited edition to mark the turn of the Millennium, and come in their original boxes with certificates of authenticity.

From the same pottery, eight twin-handled loving cups mark less-celebrated royal occasions, from the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne, to the birth of Prince Harry. The set should make £200 to £300.

The royals also feature in an annual from the kings of British comedy, Morecambe and Wise, which carries an estimate of £40 to £60.

Signed by both comedians, an introductory page features their faces superimposed into a formal photograph of the royal family. And in 1977 Jubilee year too – the cheek!

And speaking of cheeky, a little porcelain mouse by Royal Doulton caused a storm back in 1983.

‘Mr Toadflax’ from the Bramley Hedge gift collection was swiftly withdrawn soon after release.

The first edition of the figurine depicts a little mouse sitting down eating a slice of cheese; his tail protruding from between his legs.

Only after release did Royal Doulton bosses realise the tail resembled another appendage. It was quickly remodelled.

As a result, a figurine that might otherwise be snapped up for a tenner carries an auctioneer’s estimate of £100 to £150.

The auction takes place at the Cirencester salesroom of Moore Allen and Innocent on on Friday, March 28. For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk

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