As I write, the UK election has led to a hung parliament and the Tories are trying to prop up a minority government with DUP support. In other words, politics is looking pretty fucking grismal*, as my mum would say (and indeed has). Now that you’ve all voted (I hope!), all there is to do is wait. You could be forgiven for feeling a bit like this right now:
So, The Goblin and I spent a large chunk of last night watching Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night (David Mitchell snarking about Brexit? Count us in!), and amidst all the exit poll drama, I noticed the Lib Dems’ Baroness Brinton was showing her party colours in a particularly stylish way:
Check out that brooch. Not your common-or-garden campaign pin.
For centuries, pins, badges and brooches have been a decorative way to wear your heart on your sleeve (or lapel). When it comes to political pins, American ‘campaign buttons’ are the best-known examples, dating back pretty much as far as the United States themselves. George Washington’s supporters used to wear his initials on their jackets – awww.
Pins are one of the most versatile forms of jewellery; sartorial shorthand for your world view and core values (whether those are high-falutin’ political beliefs or simply your love of cats). They can also be incredibly beautiful. The emphasis here is on the can…
These days, there are a lot of bog-standard, plastic circles floating about on British chests:
But that wasn’t always the case. The 50s were a golden age of stylish enamel pins for all political situations. Here are the two main parties:
Young and politically engaged? You could’ve worn these:
If you fancied a lighter pin, a few decades later the CND spawned a range of badges so niche that they remind me of that ship full of telephone sanitisers and hairdressers from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
And speaking of niche, it was the 70s that gave us this quintessentially British gem:
But if we’re talking the one historical campaign that had pins nailed, it’s got to be the British Suffrage Movement. Those women knew their pins… The use of colour! The motifs! So lush.
Although these gorgeous vintage campaign pins go for a mint online, the impending centenary of the first legalisation of women’s suffrage in the UK** means there are a ton of pretty and economical replicas/updates knocking about:
If you don’t want to physically wear your party or campaign affiliations, there’s always the lighthearted-enamel-pin trend which exploded on Etsy in the last year or two. Why not try one of these beauties? (Special shout out to one of my fave Etsy pin stores, Veronica Dearly.)
After all, if we’re going to hell in a handcart, you might as well
*Grismal, (adj): a cross between grim and dismal; most commonly used to describe a situation that makes you want to sit on the sofa and groan gently to yourself for the next several hours.
**2018 is the centenary of the enfranchisement of some property-holding women over 30; it took until 1928 for all women over 21 to be able to vote, the same rules as for men at that time.