When does an idea become an ideal?

I have just been writing the label for this 1970 poster, which we are including in the exhibition. Also going in the show is the original design, which you can see below.

Courtesy of the People's History Museum

There was one significant change between design and final object. On the initial proposal, they used the word ‘idea’. However, on the final product they chose instead the adjective ‘ideal’. Why change? Of course, it could have been a mistake in the first draft. Alternatively, the party could also have intended that the change strengthen the posters message.

The OED defines an ‘Idea’ as “a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action” and an ‘Ideal’ as “satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect” or “existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality”

In 1969 Labour had extended the lowest voting age from 21 to 18. During the election a year later, for which Labour produced the poster, they went all out to win these new voters. The change from idea to ideal could have been to strengthen the message to the new voter. With the term idea, it suggests Labour shared with the nations young possible solutions to make Britain better. But using ideal, the poster proposes that Labour’s core beliefs of what society could or should be were the same as Britain’s youth. The change, I argue, is therefore more than superficial.


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