This film is part of Free

Attlee at Walthamstow

One of Britain’s earliest surviving party political broadcasts.

Party political broadcast 1954 17 mins


One of our earliest surviving party broadcasts: a remarkable artefact of political communication from an era before ‘spin’ ruled the airwaves. As flat visually as it’s absorbing verbally, the largely unscripted conversation between local dignitaries and Labour leader and former PM Clement Attlee inside Walthamstow Town Hall today feels awfully stiff in style - and impressively mature in content.

Attlee left the leadership of the Labour Party one month after this broadcast, but remained MP for West Walthamstow until 1955. He here invokes local son William Morris’ dictum ‘Fellowship is Life’ in drawing a contrast between Labour and Tory philosophies. But the discussion centres mostly on foreign affairs, with Attlee making interesting comparisons between Russia and China. This film survived in the form of a telerecording - a film recording of what was originally a live broadcast on the BBC - made by pointing a 16mm camera at a TV monitor as the programme was being televised.