A couple of days after my voting forms for the imminent London and European elections arrived, I received a booklet containing mini-manifestos for each mayoral candidate. The great thing about it is that each party has obviously been given a double page spread to do what they like; each spread is entirely different in design, language, colour scheme, everything. It’s like some peculiar political zine patched together from numerous contributions, and you can download the PDF, which is much more fun than the sanitised HTML version.
So, ignoring the lies, bluster and hopeless optimism that make up the words, what can we tell about each party?
- UK Independence Party
- Obviously designers have no truck with “Yookip”s crackpots, as the layout of these pages has been left to the colourblind man who found a DTP package pre-installed on his new Time Computer. Text is purple and orange, underlined, italic, poorly-sized, criminally-leaded and the party needs some lessons from the designers of those oft-criticised parish magazines.
- Playing down the unpopular word “Conservative” in favour of a photo of “Steve” Norris mid-way through singing some light-opera (or so it seems). To be honest, the huge rhetorical question “IF NEW YORK’S MAYOR CAN CUT CRIME, WHY CAN’T LONDON’S?” initially had me thinking this was a photo of NEW YORK’S MAYOR. But at least the Tories use a calming shade of purple for their highlights, even if there’s something oddly upsetting about the poor spacing of the columns and paragaphs. “IF A FIRST YEAR DESIGN STUDENT CAN GET SPACING RIGHT, WHY CAN’T STEVE?”
- Christian Peoples’ Alliance
- Ram Gidoomal may be running for one of those “why do they bother running at all?” parties, but he’s sensibly ignored most colour in favour of slightly shouty black sans-serif. Unfortunately he’s emboldened more text for emphasis than left plain, and the line length and close leading makes the spread uncomfortable to read. But at least he has a calming photo, like a worryingly efficient doctor.
- Purple is obviously the colour for the summer election season, with Ken using it for all the copy, aside from his signature; after all, signing in purple ink might make him look erratic or something. However, avoiding anything complicated like columns or emphasis has enabled Ken’s crack designers to show they’ve been doing this kind of thing for more than a couple of hours, which is a relief by this stage.
- British National Party
- “Ooh, we haven’t used that icon yet, what does it do? Cool, do some of that. What about that one?”
- Green Party
- Only the Greens and the Liberals opted for a coloured background, in this case to pleasing effect. While the BNP managed to make a complete hash of three colours, the Greens have successfully used four, and laid it out neatly and professionally, creating a spread that’s easy to read or just browse. A shame about the scary grinning man in their photos though.
- Dr Tammy Naglingam
- Dr Tammy is acting “as her own agent” and presumabaly her own designer too. I assume she just sent in a Word document. It’s certainly readable, but two straight pages of black on white CV don’t exactly draw the reader in. The word “why” keeps springing to mind.
- Indendent Working Class Association
- Surprisingly professional looking, although it could probably do with dropping the text in size a little and giving it all a bit more “breathing room”, that popular euphemism for the complicated word “space”.
- Liberal Democrats
- Make it stop, please! It’s all bright yellow and black and close together and shouty and at jaunty angles and I don’t know where to start reading. There are so many posed photos of Simon Hughes I thought it was some kind of photo story, but they’ve left out the frame where he gets off with his wife’s best friend’s brother. Shame.
- Simple, plain, green and red, no nonsense. A little shabby, but by now simplicity is a welcome relief to these poor eyes.
So there we have it. Design-wise my votes go with the funny smiling Green man, which may well have happened anyway to be honest. Given that the BNP and UKIP have the poorest grasp of, well, every aspect of design, I’m wondering if there’s some correlation between the competence of designers and their position on the political spectrum.