Newly available on BFI Player (bfi.org.uk/player) is Never Mind the Ballots, a remarkable collection of over 60 films featuring 19 different elections, with a fantastic range of newsreels, amateur films, campaign films and party political broadcasts from most of the major parties, plus some vintage election reporting.
A highlight is undoubtedly 1974’s long-unseen special episode of The Clangers, Vote for Froglet, shown on Election Night 1974. Other highlights include ‘All the Winners!’ And the Losers (1923), Lady Tweedsmuir MP in a brief talk about Politics (1949) and Your Money’s Worth (1955).
Drawn from the resources of the BFI National Archive and regional and national archives, this collection shows just how elections have gripped the public imagination. Most of the films are free to view and are part of a much larger offering which includes feature films, television programmes and much more.
Politics and film share a long history. In this unique collection you’ll find more almost a century’s worth of campaigning films and broadcasts, showcasing politics across all colours of the political spectrum. The big beasts of Westminster share the spotlight with local operators – and there’s even space on the podium for outsiders from the political fringes, from anti-nuclear protestors to the Workers’ Revolutionary Party.
From the dawn of the 20th century, the films chart the growing sophistication of political persuasion 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…