Film ID:
YFA 2116



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This film takes a closer look at the canvassing techniques for the Conservative Party following their loss of post-war General Election.  The film was produced by British Films for the Conservative and Unionist Films Association. 

Foreword: ‘This film was produced before the general Election of February, 1950, and its primary purpose is to teach the technique of canvassing.  Although owing to the political situation some sequences inevitably are now dated, these in no way affect the basic lessons the film sets out to teach, which remain valid. 

Title: ‘British Films Ltd. Present: The Personal Touch’
Produced by William Weedon
Directed by William Hammond
Scenario Gerald Sanger
Lighting Cameraman Jack Flack
Camera Operator Norman Fisher
Recording Pat Wyand
Continuity Marion Powell
Editor Pat Evans
Produced for the Conservative and Unionist Films Association

The film begins with some exhortations on the importance of voting, through the radio, on soap boxes, and using load hailers.  As the commentary explains that the next election will be won or lost on personal canvassing of the electorate, a woman is shown canvassing at someone’s gate.  Firstly a woman Tory canvasser demonstrates the wrong way to approach a voter.  A woman answers the door and the canvasser assumes she is a socialist because of the terraced house in which she lives.  The woman is angry and says she is fed up with politicians, thus ending the demonstration.  The commentator notes that the woman canvasser ‘shows no sincerity, friendliness or knowledge.’  She left no literature, does not mention local activities or provide the candidates name.  She made silly jokes and grumbled, making her notes in the presence of the voter. 

There are headlines in the newspapers of Attlee’s election success and which show the results of the Labour victory.  There are also images of Churchill and workers leaving their factories.  Accompanying these scenes is a commentary which praises the work of Socialists and their ability to spread their propaganda amongst working people.  The commentary stresses comradeship as a factor, as well as the contracting out clause in trade union legislation and the role of shop stewards.  A man argues with others in a pub, and showing the front of a Co-operative House, they comment upon the importance of the Co-ops funding role.  But it is stressed that it is the person working on individuals, in the pub, at the bus stop, at the dogs, that really counts.  The man arguing in the pub holds up a copy of ‘Keep Left’ to the camera, another pamphlet titled, ‘Production the Bridge to Socialism’ and a Labour Party electioneering leaflet. 

Inside the Conservative MP’s office, the party agent speaks directly to the camera and voiceover about electioneering.  The agent states that the narrator has failed to mention the Representation of the People Act.  He passes over to his Member of Parliament, Mr Speedwell, who explains how this restricts spending on electioneering.  The Register of Electors is shown with marks next to each name indicating which way they vote.  The agent goes on to explain the role of Tellers at polling stations as well as how canvassers are allocated to specific areas. 

In a lecture hall, a woman gives a motivational speech to prospective canvassers.  She runs through the three qualities of sincerity, friendliness and knowledge.  The film then runs through the materials that each canvasser needs, and the differences between canvassing between and during elections. 

A demonstration is given of the different approaches, and canvassers are shown at work while the narrator makes observations.  The model canvassers give examples of how to operate for different kinds of voters, and after talking to voters, they each address the camera.  A woman canvasser approaches a housewife to join the conservative association.  She states, “What with my husband needing a hot dinner when he comes in, I haven't much time.”  The interviews reflect the social status of women in post war Britain Other techniques involve doubtful voters, country voters, non voters and socialist voters. 

Next there is a meeting of canvassers who discuss their day’s work.  The MP discusses political points raised by the canvassers, and there is a direct plea to camera for more canvassers. 

The End