How to get a limited edition Katharine Hamnett T-shirt

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Indy Politics

Katharine Hamnett, one of the most provocative designers in British fashion, has joined The Independent's Campaign for Democracy by designing 1,000 limited-edition T-shirts bearing the slogan Vote for Reform.

Katharine Hamnett, one of the most provocative designers in British fashion, has joined The Independent's Campaign for Democracy by designing 1,000 limited-edition T-shirts bearing the slogan Vote for Reform.

Hamnett, famous for her confrontational designs, says she hopes the T-shirts - available to Independent readers - will provoke debate on Britain's democratic system.

In 1984, she famously attended a drinks party at 10 Downing Street wearing a "58% Don't Want Pershing!" T-shirt as a protest against the presence of US cruise missiles in Britain. At London Fashion Week, in 2003, she sent Naomi Campbell down the catwalk clad only in underwear bearing the diamanté slogan USE A CONDOM. But will her Electoral Reform T-shirts have the same effect?

"Perhaps 'Jail Tony' would have had more impact than VOTE FOR REFORM," says the designer. "But I hope they do make some waves. I'm just so appalled that we claim to have a democracy in this country. This two-party system is not a democracy. Politicians say one thing when they're trying to get elected and when they're in power they do what the hell they like. And Tony Blair is one of the most extreme cases in modern times."

It was the Iraq war, argues Hamnett, that really made the case for the impasse Britain's democratic system has approached. "Ninety per cent of the population did not want to go to war with Iraq without a second UN resolution," she rages. "That's a huge number. And yet, somehow, he charged blindly in. He was the same on GM. He was the same on a wide range of issues. We shove democracy down everyone else's throats and we don't actually have it ourselves."

It is not just the voting system, but the implications that system has for our legal and moral framework about which Hamnett feels most strongly. "The situation is out of control. Our civil liberties are being erased as we speak."

So what can a T-shirt do? "I think the Pershing T-shirt photographs were the most used by the press in 1984 ... Whether they changed anything is questionable. Some of them have - the 'Sanction South Africa - Support the ANC' campaign certainly worked. But 'Worldwide Nuclear Ban Now' - Christ Almighty! America feels more at threat now from nuclear arms than it ever has done."

Right at the heart of Hamnett's belief in the importance of "giving your campaign a voice" is that the process provokes thought on issues people might not have considered. "What's more important is that people make them happen ... actually do something."

So can The Independent's campaign for electoral reform make a difference, or is this another case of talk not action? "I think it can," says Hamnett. It's all about giving people a full picture, informing people.

"Do people really think we can reform our electoral system? A front-page appeal can tap into a rising tide of anger about the war - that was when a lot of people realised that we do not live in a democracy. Tony Blair has a much smaller majority, and we have to grasp the moment."

Join the campaign, get the T-shirt. Katharine Hamnett has designed a T-shirt to support our campaign and

The Independent is offering a free one to the first

1,000 readers to write in. The T-shirts come in a choice of black or white, and in small, medium and large sizes. Simply write to: Campaign for Democracy T-shirt, The Independent Marketing Dept, 191, Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS. Please state preferred colour and size. Only one per household.

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