By Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham
‘Let’s Go with Labour and we’ll get things done’ was the campaign slogan Labour strategists cooked up to build support for the party in the run up to the 1964 general election.
Together with a thumbs up logo, ‘Let’s Go’ was meant to give the impression that Labour was no longer the old-fashioned organisation some voters had thought it in 1959 and was now intent on change, ‘modernisation’ and a ‘New Britain’. It was of a piece with Harold Wilson’s promise to unleash the ‘white heat’ of technology to kick start the failing British economy should he become Prime Minister.
To promote this message, across the country Labour held ‘Let’s Go’ balloon races, produced envelope and car stickers and expected party members to plaster their small children with ‘Let’s Go’ badges.
The campaign shows very clearly that Labour’s interest in the power of image and slick presentation long pre-dated Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson.
‘Let’s Go’ was also a nationally generated and carefully coordinated campaign. As indicated here, all local parties had to do was affix the face of their candidate to the poster. It is evidence of the increasing centralisation of power within British politics.
The Sunday Citizen was a Co-operative newspaper and here is evidence of how it helped the party, in more direct and practical ways than ever did Rupert Murdoch. Ironically, while Labour narrowly returned to office in October 1964 after thirteen years in the wilderness, partly thanks to ‘Let’s Go’, the Sunday Citizen went out of business three years later.
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