This film is part of Free

Two Lancashire Cotton Workers Discuss Safeguarding

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

Party political broadcast 1935 8 mins


This Conservative Party election campaign film is a surprisingly politician-free zone. Instead, it cunningly stages a debate between a pair of no-nonsense mill workers on the merits of 'safeguarding' (or trade tariffs) to ward off cheap imports. Whether the film changed any minds we'll probably never know, but the Conservatives did slightly increase their majority in the National Government.

The Conservative and Unionist Party, as it was then, was the first to really embrace political advertising. By the 1930s its approach was already quite sophisticated, as demonstrated in the decision here to use not industrialists or economists to make its case but ordinary cotton workers - natural Labour sympathisers, most viewers would assume. In 1935 the Depression remained a burning issue, but despite a coalition uniting the Conservatives with members of both Liberal and Labour parties, consensus proved flimsy. Tory support for trade tariffs was at odds with the Liberals' free trade instincts, let alone Labour's demands for public control of industry.