This is a prize piece of political ephemera. It's an election handbill issued on the day that Boris Johnson announced his intention to resign - printed and stuffed through letterboxes before anyone knew for sure that he would resign - and issued, remarkably, by Boris Johnson' own party.
Here's the other side of the handbill - issued for a local government by-election on 7th July 2022:
So, here's the story.
Labour did really well in London in the local elections in May. They even won some seats which they had always regarded as beyond reach. One was Hampstead Town in the London Borough of Camden.
I'm told that one of the Labour candidates in May only stood because he was assured he wouldn't win. On the night of the count, he was tucked up in bed when he was told to get down to the counting centre quick because he was about to become a Camden councillor.
Hampstead Town is a two-councillor constituency. In May, the Conservatives topped the poll but Labour's Adrian Cohen took the second seat, with a narrow margin of 59 votes over the Conservative in third place. The Lib Dems were a respectable but distant third.
Alas, Mr Cohen not only didn't expect to be a councillor - his work didn't allow him to be a councillor. Three weeks after his surprise victory, he resigned. So on 7th July, a by-election was held - with the Conservatives determined to win back what they regarded as 'their' seat.
Early in the morning of polling day - 7th July - the Conservatives started pushing the election handbill above through letter boxes in South End Green. They were seen at it at 8:15 in the morning - just about the time Chris Mason, the BBC's Political Editor, got a call from No. 10 to say that Boris Johnson had agreed to stand down.
So Hampstead Conservatives were so alarmed by the deep contempt for Boris Johnson evident on local doorsteps that they claxoned Boris's departure in an attempt tp regain local support. So desperate were they to disown their own party leader and prime minister, they printed the polling day handbill, and started distributing it, before Boris had even agreed to go. It reads -
Last May many of you told us you couldn't vote Conservatrive while Boris Johnson was Prime Minister.
We Camden Conservatives took up your call.
It took longer than we wanted but MESSAGE RECEIVED!
The Conservatives have listened and Johnson has resigned as PM.
We now ask you to come back to us and give us another chance. It's ok to vote Conservative again, starting today in Hampstead Town.
More than that, the handbill is a piece of election samizdat - it doesn't make clear who has published it in apparent violation of election regulations. The local Labour MP Tulip Siddiqui made quite a fuss about the issue on social media, and the Independent picked up the story too.
In the by-election, both main parties put up women candidates called Alex: Alex Andrews for the Tories and Alex Sufit for Labour. Here's Labour Alex's polling day handbill:
So, which Alex won the by-election?
The Lib Dems' Linda Chung captured the seat convincingly - with the Conservatives in second place and Labour third.
So the Tories' 'He's Out!' election day ploy didn't do the job!
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