YouTube 'cos we want to: back to the '80s

by Stephen Tall on July 3, 2009

Welcome to this Friday edition of our new LDV feature rounding up some of the best/worst/most curious political videos. This week, in the absence of any contemporary videos grabbing my attention, I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane, and revisit party election broadcasts of the 1980s from each of the three main parties.

Labour party election broadcast 1987

The ’87 Labour campaign has gone down in the history books as presentationally slick. You might doubt that from the first two minutes of this 10-minute film (yes, TEN MINUTES: what sort of attention span do these people think we have?) – a bizarre montage presumably meant to show Mrs Thatcher to be a heartless monster, but actually leaves the impression that she’s a damn sight more Prime Ministerial than Neil Kinnock. Stick with it (or fast forward) to the end, and it closes with a shot of the male-dominated Labour shadow cabinet in a dark, dour room. You look at it, and think, ‘Thank God that lot didn’t end up running the country.’ Just a shame which lot actually did.

Tory party election broadcast 1983

Leaving aside the length (eight, EIGHT, minutes!) and the plummy, patrician Werther’s Original voiceover it’s surprisingly effective and gripping. Much of it is a straight-to-camera piece by Maggie herself: no flashy graphics, no cut-aways, just plain (slightly cliched) speaking:



SDP/Liberal Alliance party election broadcast 1987

Yes, it’s that John Cleese broadcast (the only ’80s’ Alliance PEB on YouTube). Twenty-two years later it still manages to be a funny, intelligent and incisive plea for moderate centrism in a decade when extremist politics polarised the public. It even makes the case for proportional representation. What more could we ask for? Oh, I know, for it be longer than TEN MINUTES.