Road Safety News

Tufty to feature in ‘propaganda’ exhibition

Thursday 9th May 2013

60 years after he was created, Tufty Fluffytail (the retired road safety squirrel) will feature in an exhibition exploring international state-related propaganda.

Tufty was created by the late Elsie Mills MBE in 1953 to help communicate simple safety messages to children. Now, the ever-popular squirrel will feature in the British Library’s exhibition Propaganda: Power and Persuasion (17 May - 17 September).

The exhibition will feature Tufty memorabilia from the British Library’s archives, including a bag and greetings card, plus a RoSPA poster from the 1960s featuring statistics about children and road collisions.

Tufty had a long career in road safety. In 1961, the Tufty Club was set up as a nationwide network of local groups through which millions of children learned about road safety. At its peak, there were 24,500 registered Tufty Clubs.

Tom Mullarkey, chief executive of RoSPA, said: “The exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to mark Tufty’s 60th birthday and to acknowledge his contribution to society. Tufty was an iconic aid to road safety education, teaching generations of children right through the 60s and 70s and into the 80s and 90s.

“Although it might seem strange to consider him as propaganda, the British Library’s exhibition is a fitting reminder of Tufty, his powers of persuasion and his enduring legacy as artwork.”

Click here for more information about Tufty or here for more information about the exhibition.


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Or, for the sake of argument, by putting the onus on the potential victims rather than those creating danger on the roads, the propaganda value of Tufty was to help legitimise the appropriation of roads away from children for the benefit of drivers. Just a thought.
Mike, Bristol

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Well said, Eric, this exhibition seems to be describing public information campaigns and programmes as propaganda with all the darker implications that word brings. A great shame and misleading in itself. I do not accept that Tufty's role in influencing children to adopt safer behaviours that may save their lives should be described as propaganda.
Honor Byford,Vice Chair, Road Safety GB

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Wikipedia describes Propaganda as "a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes.
As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented."

An unsuitable epithet for Tufty.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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