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Election days: 1868 - Herring and mutton

Updated Wednesday 14th February 2018

Why did Liberals wave herring in the streets on polling day in 1868?

Herring Creative commons image Icon Atle Grimsby under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license

During the run-up to the 2017 General Election, we're dipping into the archives to bring you a collection of events from elections past - noteworthy, amusing or just plain bemusing. You can catch up on the 2017 election in our dedicated hub.

At Llanrwst the popular feeling was very strong in favour of the Liberal candidates. There, during the polling, a number of men perambulated the streets, headed by a volunteer band, two men walking with them carrying two poles, upon one of which were affixed a large loaf and a leg of mutton, and on the other a potato, a miniature loaf, and a red herring.

The latter [pole] illustrative of a saying of a late Tory rector, that herrings and potatoes were quite sufficient food for working men.

But the most important indication of the state of feeling was a gigantic wooden screw carried about on the top of a pole as an intimation of the way the tenants were being coerced by their landlords.

What a farce, then, are country elections without the ballot, for it is quite evident that tenant farmers have no political opinions of their own to express, or, if they have any, in some parts of Wales they are coerced to vote against them.

Originally published by The Liverpool Mercury, 01-12-1868

 

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