The 1959 election defeat led to major inquest into the state of Labour. Discussion eventually turned to campaigning and how it might be made more efficient and responsive. After a protracted debate, change was relatively swift. Pointedly the Nuffield study described this process as ‘The Modernisation of Labour’. Serious reorganisation of campaigning began when key party posts fell vacant between 1960 and 1963. The sudden death of Hugh Gaitskell deprived Labour of its leader. Ill-health forced the retirement of General Secretary Morgan Philips and Arthur Bax suddenly resigned as head of publicity. In addition the death of Aneurin Bevan, Labour’s arch-educationalist, removed a key impediment to the professionalisation of campaigning. Gaitkell’s successor, Harold Wilson developed a keen interest in presentation. Wilson sloughed off his objections to image management and became ‘a man fascinated by the media, by political techniques and organization’. He demonstrated that non-revisionists were committed to overhauling campaigning and helped make this happen. As Chair of the Campaigns Committee set up by the National Executive Committee (NEC) in October 1961, Wilson had been central to preparations for the following election.1 On becoming leader he proved an effective organiser, self-publicist and communicator.
KeywordsLabour Party Party Organisation Sunday Time Advertising Executive Downing Street
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