‘…be sure you use your vote somehow. The right to vote was won for you, not by the great statesman whose names are connected with reform bills… but by the persistent agitation of generations of poor political workers who gave up all their spare time and faced loss of employment, imprisonment and sometimes worse, in order to get you a share of the government of the country. Now is your chance to use what cost so much to win. A political battle is about to begin. Choose your side according to your conscience; strike the one blow that the law allows you. There is no excuse for not voting. Even when there is no candidate worth voting for, there is always a candidate worth voting against. Even if you think that both candidates are fools, make the best of it by voting for the opponent of the bigger fool of the two. Whatever you do, don’t stay at home and waste your vote.
…If you want to be protected from unjust legislation use your vote. You owe it to your fellow citizens and to yourself not to lose your opportunity. It is the selfish, indifferent, the shortsighted, the lazy man who cannot see why he should trouble himself to vote. No sensible man throws away a weapon which has won so much for those who’ve learned how to use it. For all you know, the election maybe decided by your vote alone. How will you feel if you neglect to vote, and find, the day after the poll, the candidate who best represents your interest is beaten by one vote?’
Although the message is ‘just get out there and vote’ it is likely that Fabian backed radical candidates would profit from a higher turnout as the middle classes, traditionally conservative, were more likely to vote anyway. In an era of gentleman MP’s, some very silly indeed, the advice to vote for the least foolish candidate would have been useful too. Note the way it assumes the voter is a man. Nothing sexist here – the leaflet dates from 1893 and it was not until 1918 that women (over 30) got the vote. Full voting rights came in 1928.