Never Mind The Ballots
As election fever grips Britain (or doesn't), we get on our soapbox to present a fascinating collection of political and campaigning films.
Politics and film share a long history. Here you'll find more than 70 years' worth of campaigning films and broadcasts, showcasing politics across all colours of the political spectrum. For once, the big beasts of Westminster share the spotlight with local operators - and there's even space on the podium for some political outsiders. From the dawn of the 20th century, the films chart the growing sophistication of spin in all its forms, embracing drama, documentary and animation, celebration and protest, the clever, the crass, the brilliant and the bizarre. What comes through in these films is not just how much politics has changed, but how much has stayed the same. The passion and fervour on display in the earlier films here may be surprising, but many of the techniques, tricks and strategies used by the parties today were emerging as early as the 1920s. Whether it's sparkling rhetoric and smart infographics or flag-waving and mudslinging - the rule in politics is much as it ever was: if it works...
It's the 1935 general election and Stanley Holloway recites a comic monologue promoting the policies of the National Government.
Party political broadcast195925 mins Location: Bristol
The Labour Party takes a heartfelt look at Bristol council’s social(ist) housing and education agenda, spinning a 'new story from an old city'.
Documentary195719 mins Location: Slough
Slough gets a resounding thumbs-up from a reluctant ratepayer in a surprising 1950s government film.
Animation & Artists Moving Image19309 minsSilent
Party-political hyperbole meets Wacky Races in this spirited cartoon produced for the Conservative Party.
Government sponsored film19518 minsSilent Location: Slough
A remarkable film showing the Municipal Borough of Slough's preparations for the 1951 General Election.
Current affairs198013 mins Location: Smethwick
"There's been no active encouragement for black people to participate within the political structure of this country". A bleak picture of the lack of equality in Britain.
Factual TV195920 mins
The first in a series of 12 campaign reports from Labour's Radio and TV Operations Room, presented by Tony Benn and featuring Hugh Gaitskell.
Documentary195012 mins Location: Bethnal Green
"Set the People Free" - Tories take to the streets in the lead-up to the 1950 General Election.
Party political broadcast195920 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Tony Benn fronts a vigorous report on the pressing issues of Labour's election campaign, from housing conditions to comprehensive education.
Government sponsored film195011 minsSilent Location: Slough
A remarkable film showing the Municipal Borough of Slough's preparations for the 1950 General Election.
No fewer than five once or future prime ministers on show at the momentous 1923 election.
“If you care, show it” - is the message to encourage voting in the Scottish elections, long before the galvanising independence referendum of 2014.
Documentary19313 minsSilent Location: Chertsey
Crowds pack out Chertsey's streets to hear who their new MP will be
Non-Fiction19062 minsSilent Location: Blackpool
A lively crowd greets Blackpool's Conservative MP - possibly on election day.
With the nation at the polls, incumbent PM Stanley Baldwin’s election call had not yet backfired when this newsreel summary was released.
Campaigning film193930 mins
A strident protest against "a government for the best people by the best people", made by the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: Trafalgar Square
Stirring scenes in Trafalgar Square as Labour MP Will Thorne rallies recruits for the war effort.
The newly-elected parliament of 1924 opens for business under a veil of mystery, as the nation comes to terms with a sea change in British politics.
Two Lancashire Cotton Workers Discuss SafeguardingTwo Lancashire Cotton Workers Discuss Safeguarding
Party political broadcast19358 mins Location: Oldham
Not a politician in sight in this clever Conservative election campaign film.
Non-Fiction19223 minsSilent Location: Trafalgar Square
Lights, camera, democracy! Eager voters swarm to Trafalgar Square to witness the election results, live on screen.
News19701 mins Location: Lincolnshire
"What's the difference between Conservative and Labour?, what's a swing, or a floating voter? Anglia news canvasses opinion from voters of the future.
Current affairs198310 mins Location: Blackpool
Who could be better placed to report from the Tory party conference at the height of Mrs Thatcher's powers, than the outspoken Labour MP Joe Ashton?
Non-Fiction19296 minsSilent Location: Leeds
Enthusiasm abounds as Labour win an historic election, with former Liberal Richard Denman being carried aloft through the streets of Leeds.
Animation & Artists Moving Image19319 mins
Don’t judge a book by its cover but do judge a political party by its garage in this Conservative cartoon from the height of the depression.
News19646 mins Location: Norwich
With the General Election only days away both Conservative and Labour candidates face local news cameras. In 1964, top of the national agenda is the 'Independent Deterrent'.
Lady Tweedsmuir, M.P. In a Brief Talk about PoliticsLady Tweedsmuir, M.P. In a Brief Talk about Politics
Party political broadcast19494 mins
Lady Tweedsmuir, Unionist MP for Aberdeen, addresses the housewives of Britain on the dangers of Socialism.
Campaigning film193817 mins Location: London
A housewife galvanises her docker husband to take an interest in more important matters than the football pools.
Non-Fiction198619 mins Location: Pickering
Another example of a by-election protest vote as David Steel arrives to address the Pickering populace as the Liberals gain a famous victory in the middle of Thatcher’s rule.
Party political broadcast196510 mins
A Liberal dose of electioneering in this unmissable party political broadcast - an example of 1960s live TV saved on film.
Animation & Artists Moving Image19277 minsSilent
Mr Nosey Parker visits farmer John Barleycorn to tell him how to do his job in this witty Conservative Party campaigning cartoon.
Amateur film193113 minsSilent Location: Southampton
A fascinating film from 1931 showing the National Government candidate, William Craven Craven-Ellis, on the hustings in Southampton.
Amateur film193919 minsSilent Location: Hastings
The Sussex Communist Party presents its review of events and activities during the final months before the outbreak of war in this remarkable film from 1939.
Non-Fiction19241 minsSilent Location: Dudley
Splendid portraits of three hopeful parliamentary candidates, filmed in the run-up to the 1924 general election.
News19633 mins Location: Stratford-upon-Avon
What effect will the political bombshell of the Profumo scandal have on the voters of Stratford upon Avon?
Current affairs19835 mins Location: Darlington
Five hours on a coach for the stalwarts of Walsall's Labour Party on an away day to campaign in far off Darlington.
Amateur film19357 minsSilent Location: West Bridgford
A far cry from the slick political campaign film of today. Here's Ralph Assheton on his way to Westminster and the National Government of Ramsay MacDonald.
Non-Fiction19452 minsSilent Location: Leeds
A chance to witness a real rarity, masses of enthusiastic Labour Party supporters parading through the streets behind their victorious candidates after an electoral triumph.
News19765 mins Location: Coventry
Who's who in the 1976 Coventry North West by-election. A vital campaign for a former industrial centre now in economic crisis.
Will electioneering change your vote? Food for thought for parties planning to spend big money on the 1966 General Election.
Current affairs19847 mins Location: Chesterfield
Ј150 and ten signatures is all you need to stand in a British election. Can it really be that simple?
Amateur film19389 minsSilent Location: Brighton
Sussex Communists march on the streets of Brighton in this remarkable film from 1938, which also features the return of three members of the International Brigade.
Amateur film196225 minsSilent Location: Aldermaston
A fascinating record of the 1962 Aldermaston March featuring Canon John Collins, Michael Foot and thousands of marchers of all ages.
Non-Fiction19021 minsSilent Location: Accrington
A small crowd greets a local Conservative parliamentary candidate at Accrington station.
Party political broadcast197910 mins
The weight of taxation and unemployment keeps Britain lagging behind in the 'international prosperity race', says this Tory campaign film.
Campaigning film195318 mins Location: Barnet
Residents of Barnet and Stockton-on-Tees are the lucky beneficiaries of a government scheme to remedy Britain’s housing problem.
Ballot Box Not the Bomb - Ulster Assembly ElectionsBallot Box Not the Bomb - Ulster Assembly Elections
Public Information Filler19738 mins Location: Belfast
This poignant Public information film from Northern Ireland publicises elections for a new Assembly.
In an emotive address, Plaid Cymru’s first two Westminster MPs plead the case for an independent Welsh state.
Non-Fiction19185 minsSilent Location: Royal Albert Hall
Topical Budget salutes Britain's top brass in this gleefully patriotic newsreel edition, released just weeks after the First World War was won.
Party political broadcast195914 mins
A remarkably laid-back Harold Macmillan addresses the nation (or at least those who owned televisions) just days before election victory.
Campaigning film193631 minsSilent Location: Hyde Park
Poverty and hunger compels angry, jobless workers - including Jarrow's crusaders - to make a historic march to London to petition government.