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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...

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Vote for Froglet
Vote for Froglet
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Vote for Froglet

Children's19747 mins

As the general election is held in the UK, it's polling day for the Clangers on a small blue planet far away.

Sam Small at Westminster
Sam Small at Westminster
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Sam Small at Westminster

Promotional19353 mins

It's the 1935 general election and Stanley Holloway recites a comic monologue promoting the policies of the National Government.

Bristol Fashion
Bristol Fashion
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Bristol Fashion

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'.

Mr. Jenkins Pays His Rates
Mr. Jenkins Pays His Rates
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Mr. Jenkins Pays His Rates

Documentary195719 mins Location: Slough

Slough gets a resounding thumbs-up from a reluctant ratepayer in a surprising 1950s government film.

Socialist Car of State
Socialist Car of State
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Socialist Car of State

Animation & Artists Moving Image19309 minsSilent

Party-political hyperbole meets Wacky Races in this spirited cartoon produced for the Conservative Party.

Children and Politics
Children and Politics
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Children and Politics

News19643 mins

Some remarkably well informed (well, for the most part) children interviewed prior to the 1964 General Election.

General Election 1951
General Election 1951
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General Election 1951

Government sponsored film19518 minsSilent Location: Slough

A remarkable film showing the Municipal Borough of Slough's preparations for the 1951 General Election.

Black Vote
Black Vote
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Black Vote

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.

Britain Belongs to You No. 1
Britain Belongs to You No. 1
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Britain Belongs to You No. 1

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.

Conservative News Review No. 5
Conservative News Review No. 5
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Conservative News Review No. 5

Documentary195012 mins Location: Bethnal Green

"Set the People Free" - Tories take to the streets in the lead-up to the 1950 General Election.

Britain Belongs to You No. 2
Britain Belongs to You No. 2
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Britain Belongs to You No. 2

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.

General Election Slough 1950
General Election Slough 1950
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General Election Slough 1950

Government sponsored film195011 minsSilent Location: Slough

A remarkable film showing the Municipal Borough of Slough's preparations for the 1950 General Election.

'All the Winners' - And the Losers!
'All the Winners' - And the Losers!
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'All the Winners' - And the Losers!

Non-Fiction19234 minsSilent

No fewer than five once or future prime ministers on show at the momentous 1923 election.

Scottish Elections: Statement for Scotland
Scottish Elections: Statement for Scotland
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Scottish Elections: Statement for Scotland

20031 mins

“If you care, show it” - is the message to encourage voting in the Scottish elections, long before the galvanising independence referendum of 2014.

Animated Politics
Animated Politics
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Animated Politics

Non-Fiction1910 minsSilent Location: Woolwich

Woolwich candidates face the voters in the first of 1910's two general elections.

The Declaration of the Poll at Chertsey Town Hall
The Declaration of the Poll at Chertsey Town Hall
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The Declaration of the Poll at Chertsey Town Hall

Documentary19313 minsSilent Location: Chertsey

Crowds pack out Chertsey's streets to hear who their new MP will be

Gloucester By-election
Gloucester By-election
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Gloucester By-election

News19573 mins Location: Gloucester

The three candidates in the 1957 Gloucester by-election out and about on the campaign trail.

Wainwright Conservative Club, Blackpool (c.1906)
Wainwright Conservative Club, Blackpool (c.1906)
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Wainwright Conservative Club, Blackpool (c.1906)

Non-Fiction19062 minsSilent Location: Blackpool

A lively crowd greets Blackpool's Conservative MP - possibly on election day.

Doorstep to Communism
Doorstep to Communism
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Doorstep to Communism

Campaigning film194811 mins

This Conservative Party film claims that votes for Labour are stepping stones to a Communist state.

The Suffragette Election
The Suffragette Election
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The Suffragette Election

Non-Fiction19121 minsSilent Location: London

Trusted, tried and true? A Labour MP takes a principled stand on women's right to vote

Mr. Stanley Baldwin
Mr. Stanley Baldwin
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Mr. Stanley Baldwin

Non-Fiction19232 minsSilent

With the nation at the polls, incumbent PM Stanley Baldwin’s election call had not yet backfired when this newsreel summary was released.

Peace and Plenty
Peace and Plenty
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Peace and Plenty

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.

Labour's Recruiting Appeal
Labour's Recruiting Appeal
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Labour's Recruiting Appeal

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: Trafalgar Square

Stirring scenes in Trafalgar Square as Labour MP Will Thorne rallies recruits for the war effort.

Under Which Leader?
Under Which Leader?
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Under Which Leader?

Non-Fiction1924 minsSilent

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 Safeguarding
Two Lancashire Cotton Workers Discuss Safeguarding
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Two Lancashire Cotton Workers Discuss Safeguarding

Party political broadcast19358 mins Location: Oldham

Not a politician in sight in this clever Conservative election campaign film.

Canteen Discussion
Canteen Discussion
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Canteen Discussion

Factual TV197010 mins Location: Gateshead

Home Secretary James Callaghan holds court in a Gateshead factory canteen.

"Topical" Triumphs Again
"Topical" Triumphs Again
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"Topical" Triumphs Again

Non-Fiction19223 minsSilent Location: Trafalgar Square

Lights, camera, democracy! Eager voters swarm to Trafalgar Square to witness the election results, live on screen.

Election Day throughout the region
Election Day throughout the region
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Election Day throughout the region

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.

Conservative Conference - Joe Ashton
Conservative Conference - Joe Ashton
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Conservative Conference - Joe Ashton

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?

Events in Leeds - General Election 1929
Events in Leeds - General Election 1929
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Events in Leeds - General Election 1929

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.

The Right Spirit
The Right Spirit
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The Right Spirit

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.

The Road to Hell
The Road to Hell
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The Road to Hell

Amateur film193333 minsSilent

Melodramatic amateur fiction film protesting against the government's hated Means Test.

Election Coverage - Norwich South
Election  Coverage - Norwich South
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Election Coverage - Norwich South

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 Politics
Lady Tweedsmuir, M.P. In a Brief Talk about Politics
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Lady 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.

Advance Democracy!
Advance Democracy!
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Advance Democracy!

Campaigning film193817 mins Location: London

A housewife galvanises her docker husband to take an interest in more important matters than the football pools.

Bolton Election Result
Bolton Election Result
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Bolton Election Result

Non-Fiction19121 minsSilent Location: Bolton

Women's Suffrage campaigners make their mark in a key by-election

Pike's Cine-Sound Pictorial Composite Reel No. 5
Pike's Cine-Sound Pictorial Composite Reel No. 5
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Pike's Cine-Sound Pictorial Composite Reel No. 5

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.

Thinking about People
Thinking about People
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Thinking about People

Party political broadcast196510 mins

A Liberal dose of electioneering in this unmissable party political broadcast - an example of 1960s live TV saved on film.

Red Tape Farm
Red Tape Farm
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Red Tape Farm

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.

Electioneering Southampton
Electioneering Southampton
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Electioneering Southampton

Amateur film193113 minsSilent Location: Southampton

A fascinating film from 1931 showing the National Government candidate, William Craven Craven-Ellis, on the hustings in Southampton.

Enjoying Life
Enjoying Life
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Enjoying Life

196226 mins

Can politics be pleasurable? The Labour Party envisions a better civic life for all in this party political broadcast featuring poet John Betjeman.

Sussex 1939
Sussex 1939
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Sussex 1939

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.

Following in Father's Footsteps
Following in Father's Footsteps
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Following in Father's Footsteps

Non-Fiction19241 minsSilent Location: Dudley

Splendid portraits of three hopeful parliamentary candidates, filmed in the run-up to the 1924 general election.

General Election Vox Pops
General Election Vox Pops
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General Election Vox Pops

News19744 mins Location: Birmingham

Who won the October 1974 election? Was it Labour or was it the trade unions?

Stratford upon Avon By-election
Stratford upon Avon By-election
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Stratford upon Avon By-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?

Darlington By-election
Darlington By-election
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Darlington By-election

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.

Reel Rushcliffe Newsreel
Reel Rushcliffe Newsreel
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Reel Rushcliffe Newsreel

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.

Events in Leeds - General Election 1945
Events in Leeds - General Election 1945
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Events in Leeds - General Election 1945

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.

Coventry North West By-election
Coventry North West By-election
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Coventry North West By-election

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.

General Election Vox Pops
General Election Vox Pops
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General Election Vox Pops

News19664 mins

Will electioneering change your vote? Food for thought for parties planning to spend big money on the 1966 General Election.

Standing in a By-election
Standing in a By-election
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Standing in a By-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?

Sussex People's Scrapbook 1938
Sussex People's Scrapbook 1938
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Sussex People's Scrapbook 1938

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.

Aldermaston
Aldermaston
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Aldermaston

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.

Joseph Chamberlain at Home (1902)
Joseph Chamberlain at Home (1902)
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Joseph Chamberlain at Home (1902)

Non-Fiction19023 minsSilent Location: Birmingham

A political giant at his magnificent Highbury estate in Birmingham.

Visit of Sir George Cotton at Accrington (1902)
Visit of Sir George Cotton at Accrington (1902)
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Visit of Sir George Cotton at Accrington (1902)

Non-Fiction19021 minsSilent Location: Accrington

A small crowd greets a local Conservative parliamentary candidate at Accrington station.

Conservative Party broadcast (19/04/1979)
Conservative Party broadcast (19/04/1979)
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Conservative Party broadcast (19/04/1979)

Party political broadcast197910 mins

The weight of taxation and unemployment keeps Britain lagging behind in the 'international prosperity race', says this Tory campaign film.

Housing Makes History
Housing Makes History
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Housing Makes History

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 Elections
Ballot Box Not the Bomb - Ulster Assembly Elections
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Ballot 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.

Plaid Cymru Election Broadcast 1974
Plaid Cymru Election Broadcast 1974
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Plaid Cymru Election Broadcast 1974

19749 mins

In an emotive address, Plaid Cymru’s first two Westminster MPs plead the case for an independent Welsh state.

Your Money's Worth
Your Money's Worth
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Your Money's Worth

195515 mins

Harold Wilson explains the reasons behind the rising cost of living under the Tories in this Labour election broadcast.

Topical Budget 378-1
Topical Budget 378-1
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Topical Budget 378-1

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.

Conservative and Unionist Party
Conservative and Unionist Party
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Conservative and Unionist Party

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.

March against Starvation
March against Starvation
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March against Starvation

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.

International Exchange
International Exchange
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International Exchange

Drama19055 minsSilent

Early propaganda film setting out an emotive case for 'fair trade', or tariff reform