Learning to Love the Microphone

Anne Perkins explores how Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain used radio and newsreel, the new media of their day, and what lessons can our generation learn from theirs

How do politicians adapt to using new media? The question is highly relevant now as the internet, social networking and 24 hour TV news transform the political landscape. And as Gordon Brown now knows all too well, it is easy to come unstuck.

Yet the question was equally relevant in the 1920s and 1930s, when politicians grappled with the new media of radio and newsreels. What lessons can our generation learn from theirs?

Anne Perkins examines how two Prime Ministers – Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain – started slowly but gradually mastered the new media. She reveals how the first spin doctor used his wartime experience spying on the Germans to attack Labour and carefully craft the Conservative leaders’ images to appeal to a new mass electorate. And she explains why the other parties were so slow by comparison.

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