Behind The Vote (1984)

Amber Current Affairs Unit

Documentation of the 1984 Chesterfield by-election, which saw Tony Benn returned to parliament.

A co-production by Amber’s Current Affairs Unit and Swingbridge Video, it explores how the leftwing Labour politician’s campaign worked to counteract overwhelmingly hostile coverage by the media. Sections are devoted to the doorstep canvassing, the workplace campaign, and the strategies employed by Labour to take on the media. Labour’s principal campaign organisers, as well as the candidate, are interviewed. A Liberal Alliance press conference is also shown.

With Chesterfield a coalfield constituency, Amber’s interest in Labour campaign was, of course, related to its engagement with the issues behind the Miners’ Strike that followed on from the election victory and by extension to the concerns of the anti-nuclear and peace movements and the analyses of media bias that were associated with the Glasgow Media Group. The programme was designed as an introduction to election campaigning, and in particular to how the Labour Party approaches election organisation. It was accompanied by a set of User Notes, to suggest ways in which the tape could be used to raise discussion about the election process.

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