Throwback Thursdays: PPBs and The Alliance

There are few examples of the Party Political Broadcasts (PPB) for the liberals between 1945 and the Early 80s. Some incomplete versions missing large chunks of audio have been archived on YouTube. Throughout this period the Liberals suffered in the relative political doldrums of only a handful of seats in Scotland and Wales.

In 1974, after a general election that left no party with a majority, attempts were made to form a coalition government with the Conservatives, but it fell through when the Conservatives and their Leader Edward Heath refused to agree to bring in Proportional Representation (PR)  for Westminster elections. As a result Labour attempted to govern in a minority.

This ultimately led to the second General Election of 1974 that following October and the narrowest of majorities for Labour. The liberals again attempted to support the government in order to deliver PR which ultimately backfired.

After the Election of 1979 and victory for Margaret Thatchers conservatives, the Labour party, now in opposition, began to change. Alleged corruption and left wing militancy was becoming more and more of an issue within Labour.

On the 25th of January 1981 the “Gang of Four”, Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers Launched the Council of Social Democracy, later to become the Social Democrat Party (SDP), in what would become known as the Limehouse Declaration. Within six months the SDP had joined the Liberals under David Steele to form the SDP – Liberal Alliance which was to remain in place until the ultimate merger of the two parties.

The Alliance was polling at 50% at one point before the General Election of 1983, but after the Falklands War of 1982, Margaret Thatcher and the conservatives stormed back into first place to win by a landslide. Although The Alliance polled 25% of the vote, thanks to our first past the post electoral system they only achieved twenty three seats.

The following PPB by the SDP as part of the SDP – Liberal Alliance was made in May 1984. Here SDP leader David Owen coveres topics including, European Unity, Trident, and the use of Nuclear Weapons, an important issue in this period of Cold War between the west and Russia.

Throwback Thursdays: Oldest Liberal Party Political Broadcast?

Throwback Thursdays begin with a series on the Party Political Broadcast.

Party Political Broadcasts. In the United Kingdom the Communications Act 2003 prohibits political advertising on Television or Radio, instead, parties are provided with slots, usually about five minutes long on the major broadcast channels with rules set by parliament.

There have been many Party Political Broadcasts made by the Lib Dems and the Liberal and SDP parties before it, but I wondered where it all started. I found this footage in the Pathe archives. The following video shows footage taken of former Liberal Party leader Sir Archibald Sinclair, in 1945, including extracts of a speech on the country “turning to liberalism again”.

Although not a PPB as such, it comes from a time where information about politics and political parties moved from print media and radio into the world of the visual. From this time onward image became more and more important in politics.

Sadly Sir Archibald would go on to lose his seat, amongst the postwar Labour surge, in the 1945 general election. He came third, off of first place by just 61 votes! He was also one of the last Liberal members of Government (Minister of the Air Force) until 2010.

Archie also mentions the Liberal economist William Beveridge, author of the Beveridge Report. It formed the basis for the post-war reforms known as the Welfare State, which include the expansion of National Insurance and the creation of the National Health Service.