Britain To Vote: Election Hysteria Sweeps 1950s Britain

News sites are buzzing today with General Election material now that the pivotal days has been called to take place on May 6th. Already journalists have been scooping for scandals relating to all MPs and parties involved, whether it be secret plans to increase death tax or B&B landlord bigots, and in the four week run-up matters are only going to intensify. Yet the sensation and apprehension around a General Election is nothing new, in fact, Britain is incredibly apathetic towards politics compared to decades past. This 1951 news reel entitled ‘Britain To Vote’ demonstrates just how heated public debate used to be regarding British politics.

The clips shows Clement Atlee leaving 10 Downing Street to make a speech, followed by rare footage of the 1950s “election expert” Lord Woolton  and other political candidates such as the dashing Labour Party secretary Morgan Phillips hard at work.

It is the 1950s vox pop though that makes this news reel utterly priceless. The cameraman interviews outraged members of the British public, apathetic glamour girls and even pokes a microphone into a man hole to interview a refuse worker –  “Well come on up and tell us what you think about it.” It’s hard not to laugh at these highly strung civilians, but maybe the joke is on us for being so blase.

Watch British Pathé’s rare video footage of the 1951 election hysteria here

Author: British Pathé

British Pathé holds the world's finest newsreel collection. We also represent the Reuters historical collection. All 220K films are viewable on our website.

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