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Poster - Crush Anti-Union Laws
  • Crush Anti-Union Laws
    Sprague, Ken, born 1927 - died 2004
  • Enlarge image

Crush Anti-Union Laws

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (printed)

  • Date:

    1971 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sprague, Ken, born 1927 - died 2004 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Green

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case Y73, shelf C

Ken Sprague is a key figure in British left-wing poster art, an overtly political artist and supporter of the labour movement. Mountain and Molehill - his design partnership with Ray Bernard - transformed Trade Union publicity This poster 'Crush Anti-Union Laws' caused controversy when it appeared in 1971. It shows British Prime Minister Edward Heath being squeezed by a worker's hand. Ken Sprague cut out the eyes from a photograph of Edward Heath and reversed them. It has been described as a precedent for the famous Saatchi & Saatchi 1997 Conservative Party poster of Tony Blair. The drop of blood added to this second version of the poster was seen by some as too violent an image.

Physical description

Political poster entitled 'Crush Anti-Union Laws' showing an image of Ted Heath being crushed in a big hand; lithograph.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (printed)


1971 (printed)


Sprague, Ken, born 1927 - died 2004 (designer)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Text of poster


Height: 764 mm, Width: 476 mm

Descriptive line

Poster, 'Crush Anti-Union Laws', lithograph designed by Ken Sprague, Great Britain, 1971

Labels and date

This witty use of photo-montage shows prime minister Edward Heath squeezed by a giant worker’s hand. In 1971, Heath’s government passed the Industrial Relations Act to exert greater control over the trade unions. Sprague designed both black and white and colour versions of the poster. Some felt the red drop of blood was too bloodthirsty.

A World to Win: Posters of Protest and Revolution, V&A, Galleries 88a and 90, (1 May-2 Nov 2014) [01/05/2014-02/11/2014]

Subjects depicted

Hands; Labour unions; Top hats


Prints; Propaganda; Posters


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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