Manchester is a wonderful blend of old and new (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
A few months ago, I spent a couple of days in Manchester. I’ve already blogged about the brilliant museums I visited whilst I was up there (
the People’s History Museum, and the Imperial War Museum North), but I also found some great protest stickers whilst exploring the city. Paying attention to a city’s protest stickers helps me get to know a place, by giving me an insight into the issues that matter to the city. Manchester had a lot of protest stickers, many of which I hadn’t seen before, which is just one of the reasons I liked it so much. Manchester is a vibrant city with a fascinating history. Protest stickers in some cities are dominated by only one or two issues ( Newcastle, for example, had a lot of stickers relating to animal rights), but this was not the case in Manchester. Its diversity is reflected in the wide range of issues that are represented in the city’s stickers. There were also a lot of stickers in Manchester that I haven’t seen before; I have not seen any of the stickers featured in the post anywhere else. I’m not saying they are all unique to Manchester, but it is an indication of the city’s healthy culture of dissent.
This is the first sticker I found when I arrived in Manchester. Although the Bedroom Tax has been a contentious issue since it was introduced in 2013, this is the first sticker I have ever found about it (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Stickers relating to the EU, both pro- and anti-Brexit, were quite common in Manchester. Most of them were supportive of the EU, such as this one (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
This is probably more of a poster than a sticker, but I wanted to include it because it’s unsual to see hand-drawn protest stickers or posters, they are usually designed on a computer and printed. This poster is advertising an anti-Brexit protest in central Manchester, a few weeks after the referendum (Photo: Hannah Awcock)
Again, this is probably too big to be a protest sticker, but I think it sums up Manchester’s irreverent attitude nicely. I also don’t like Nigel Farage (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
You are much more likely to find stickers that criticise the Conservative Party than supporting them, and Manchester is no exception. This sticker is referring to the Conservative Party Annual Conference, which is frequently held in Manchester (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Bun the Tories also started out as a call to protest the Conservative Party Conference in 2015. If you follow the link there’s an…interesting music video, and you can buy a Bun the Tories t-shirt, the proceeds of which go to homeless charities in Manchester (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
It is not just the Conservative Party that Mancunians object to, but also their policies whilst in government. Jeremy Hunt has been Health Secretary since 2012, and is blamed by many for the difficulties which the NHS now faces (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
The conflict over Junior Doctor’s contracts in 2015 and 2016 is perhaps one of the most controversial episodes of Jeremy Hunt’s career. Hunt tried to impose new contracts on Junior Doctors, which they refused to accept. Neither side would back down, leading to strikes in which Junior Doctors only provided emergency care. A survey by Ipsos MORI found that 66% of the public supported the Junior Doctors (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
The Scottish National Party also comes under fire in Manchester’s protest stickers. Most of the stickers I have seen in London relating to Scottish politics have been pro-Scottish Independence, so I was interested to find a sticker with a different perspective (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Anti-fascism is one of the most common topics of protest stickers that I find in London. I particularly like the design of this sticker, which was produced by a Mancunian anti-fascist group (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Animal welfare is another relatively common topic of protest stickers. Although it’s a common topic, I have never seen this particular sticker before (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Working class solidarity is also a topic I have seen before in protest stickers. They make the argument that the working classes should be uniting against the rich and powerful (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Football is a huge part of Mancunian life and culture. The sport, particularly the Premier League, is now a multi-million pound industry, and there is increasing opposition to it being commercialised to such an extent (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
I have seen protest stickers relating to prisons before, but they are quite rare. I found several different ones in Manchester, which is very unusual. This sticker was produced by the Empty Cages Collective, which campaigns for the abolition of prisons (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
The prevalence of CCTV cameras is not something I have seen before on protest stickers. The statistics on this sticker are pretty eye-opening, and I like the way that whoever made it included their source–perhaps they have had academic training at some point? (Photo: Hannah Awcock).
Stickers of all kinds are a significant part of London’s urban fabric (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Waterloo Bridge, 15/12/16).
The conflict over Junior Doctors’ contracts was arguably one of the biggest news stories of 2016 with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, imposing new working and pay conditions. The NHS more generally is one of the biggest battlegrounds of modern British politics, with constant debates about funding, privatisation, and the quality of the services provided. Like other key issues and events in politics (such as the
EU Referendum, immigration, and housing), the conflict over the NHS has manifested itself in London’s protest stickers. Some stickers refer to other health-related issues, such as the legalisation of drugs and mental health.
Stickers that were designed to be worn by people often end up being worn by the city, like this sticker produced by the British Medical Association (BMA) in support of the Junior Doctors. Stickers like these caused some controversy amongst Junior Doctors, when the BMA sent out stickers for Junior Doctors to wear at work as an alternative method of protest to striking (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Grafton Way, 03/05/16).
One of the main arguments against the new contracts was that the changes would risk the health of patients. As such, it is not just Junior Doctors who should take an interest in the dispute (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Lewisham Way, 20/03/16).
Unison is a union for people who work in public services, including employees of the NHS. This sticker is also making the argument that the users of the NHS should be just as involved in the fight for to save the NHS as those who work in it (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Great Russell Street, 16/06/15).
The NHS is an important political issue. The funding and running of the NHS often becomes a topic of debate during elections. The Conservative Party, for example, are frequently accused of trying to underfund and privatise the NHS. (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Borough High Street, 19/08/15).
The National Health Action Party is a group that campaigns to halt and reverse the privatisation of the NHS. I found this sticker on the Euston Road, outside the University College London hospital. Sometimes, the location of protest stickers can contribute to their meaning (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Euston Road, 16/06/15).
Keep Our NHS Public is another group that campaigns for the preservation of the NHS. Le Turnip produces protest stickers that take a lighthearted and sarcastic view on a whole range of issues (Photo: Hannah Awcock, High Holborn, 09/08/15).
The NHS is not the only health-related issue to inspire the production of protest stickers. Feed the Birds is a campaign run by the London Cannabis Club. The campaign aims to destigmatise cannabis and call for its legalisation by feeding hemp seeds to birds (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Prince Consort Road, 09/07/15).
The Feed the Birds campaign makes some bold claims about the powers of cannabis (Photo: Hannah Awcock, High Holborn, 09/08/15).
This sticker was produced by the Psychadelic Society, which advocates for the legalisation of psychadelic drugs (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Upper Street, Islington, 14/04/15).
Mental health is also a topic which gets people talking. This sticker is objecting to the way in which mental health terms are used in everyday language, which can belittle mental health problems (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Euston Road, 03/08/16).
To see where I found all these protest stickers, check out the
Turbulent London Map.