Friday Fun from the archives

Friday Fun is getting political. I know we’re nowhere near an election (unfortunately), but I spotted a real gem courtesy of John on Twitter and it amused me so much that I had to share. It tickled me for several reasons:
1. It’s a public information film from 1949 – there is always humour to be had from such things.
2. Much of it (if you’re of left-leaning sympathies) will have you laughing hard at the Conservative party, which is a great thing in the current climate.
3. By the end of it, you will actually have learnt some useful political skills that may stand you in good stead for future life.

The film in question is ‘The Personal Touch’ from the Yorkshire Film Archive and was made by the Conservative party to teach its members how to canvass effectively in the run up to the election that eventually took place in early 1950 – this being the election following Labour’s landslide in 1945. (In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, canvassing is a means of establishing who votes what in which neighbourhoods and is also an opportunity to plug your party’s cause. The British seem to be obsessed with it – not sure if it actually happens in other countries.)  As the film itself states in its introduction:

Very true. Dated, but educational – for a whole host of reasons…

Many of its lessons do still ring true today. For example, the film tells us not to assume that someone is a socialist just because they live in a small house. The opening dialogue involving a Tory canvasser and an innocent occupier of a small house is delightful:
“Most of the people on this street are socialists. I assume from your house that you must be one too…” 
[She declared that she wasn’t. Neither was she a Tory.]
“If you’re not a Socialist or a Conservative, I suppose you’re a Liberal. I’ll put you down as an ‘L’ – look! It looks like you’re a learner! You’ve got a lot to learn if you’re a Liberal…”
[She wasn’t a Liberal either. We never do find out who she intended to vote for – I’ll bet it was the Monster Raving Loony Party.]
Also, one should pay little attention to the party broadcasts from the opposition. There’s the usual scaremongering about how society will continue to deteriorate under a left-wing government (what with the awful things they initiated, like the NHS) and what disasters will occur thanks to the pressure of the Trade Unions…the familiar right versus left stuff. 
Plus, there’s a whole lot of legal rambling about what you can and can’t do during canvassing and how this changes during an election. Knowing the way the British political system works, this is probably still the case now – we love having rigorous election rules. (We just aren’t so keen on having the fairest voting system…) 
Anyway, do watch and enjoy. It’s long (over 20 minutes) but well worth it. If that wets your appetite for a little more archive film amusement, I highly recommend ‘Journey by a London bus’ (buses are so simple to use that even Africans from ‘Keenya’ can use them…) and ‘Growing Girls’ (a terrifying insight into how ‘gals’ in the 1950’s grew up) from the BFI YouTube channel. Both have been mentioned on the blog before, but they stand up well to multiple viewings – trust me. 

If this is all far too educational for you for it to be fun, then spend the next four minutes being mesmerised by a Japanese water fountain – you’ll be serene for the rest of the day.

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