January 2015 - 1964 Labour Party manifesto
In 1963, Harold Wilson made a famous speech about modernising Britain through the ‘white heat of the technological revolution’ and centred the Labour Party’s election campaign on this idea. The 1964 Labour Party manifesto focused on a plan for a ‘New Britain’ that needed to get rid of its old backward-looking values before it could progress in areas of science, technology and industry.
In the decade often referred to as the ‘Swinging Sixties’, many people were disillusioned with government figures. Wilson was portrayed as a northern working class ‘man of the people’ contrasted with the aristocratic image of many Conservatives such as Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
The Labour Party won the general election in 1964 and again in 1966. They were seen as successful in their aims of modernising Britain through legislation, such as abolishing the death penalty and decriminalising homosexuality and abortion, as well as attempting to aid the technological revolution by establishing the Department of Education and Science in 1964. However, despite these successes, the social and technological revolution envisioned in the 1963 speech was not achieved. Wilson’s government struggled with economic problems such as the devaluation of the pound and they were eventually defeated in the 1970 general election.
‘Let’s Go With Labour’ was the slogan used by the Labour Party in the election campaign of 1964. The People’s History Museum currently has one of the 1964 general election posters with this slogan on display in Main Gallery Two. This Object of the Month will be on display in our upcoming exhibition, Election! Britain Votes, which opens on Saturday 14 February, running until Sunday 28 June.
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