The Parliamentary election in Worcester on 17th November 1868 occurred during a corrupt but transforming period. It was the first general election to take place after the 1867 Representation of the People Act, establishing the vote for working class men, and the 1868 Parliamentary Elections Act, designed to reduce electoral bribery. However Worcester underwent an investigation for extensive electoral corruption as late as 1906.
This election poster bears the heading ‘The Worcester November Handicap’ and portrays the five parliamentary candidates competing in a horse race with amusing captions and steeds harshly evoking their characteristics.
Mr ‘out of nothing’ Airey is being carried away by a goose, mocking his plight for ‘purity of election’ as a self-made working class man. The partially submerged Sir Lycett was manager of a large Worcester glove making business, hence the exasperated exclamation “Oh Scissors!” Mr Hill and Mr Sherriffs were wealthy industrialists of the respective Worcester Vinegar and Engine works. But there was ‘no holding’ Conservative local philanthropist William Laslett, who was ultimately elected.