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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Politics at prime time
BBC graphic
Glitzy, fast-moving and optimistic was the style and tone of Labour's first election broadcast of the campaign. The short political film has come a long way in 20 years.

Labour's first election broadcast of the 2001 campaign was a predictably slick affair, featuring an upbeat dance track, lots of smiling children and a cameo by former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.

Denis Healey
Denis Healey: "There aren't any miracle cures in the real world"
It's a measure of how far the genre has come since the days when party advisors thought it was enough to sit a cabinet minister in front of the camera and let him talk freely about the public borrowing deficit.

To judge exactly how things have changed, we lined up the latest Labour effort with the first election broadcast of the 1979 general election campaign - the last time the party went to the country seeking re-election.

Underlying theme
2001: Life is better under Labour.
1979: Life is better under Labour.

Synopsis
2001: A rapid stream of lightning-edited images representing the many faces of modern Britain. Dinner ladies grin meekly, children leap with joy, an Asian man shares a humoured exchange with a police officer, fireworks explode over Cardiff. The snippets switch from real time to slow motion while the Lighthouse House Family's dance-lite hit single, Lifted, thumps a heady beat.
Boy on tricycle
Labour's latest broadcast
Messages of Labour's "achievements" in government - eg: "Low & stable mortgage rates delivered" - swell to fill the screen before dissolving to make way for another.
1979: Prime minister James Callaghan dominates, sitting at his desk, leaning forward with hands clasped. He tells viewers in measured and emphatic tones, that Britain is "back on the road to recovery". The Chancellor, Denis Healey, also gives a solemn talk from behind a pile of papers on his desk while fellow cabinet minister Shirley Williams adopts a more casual approach for her lecture, perched on the edge of an armchair with hands locked together over her crossed legs.

The message in 1979
The message in 1979

Opening shot
2001: The words "Has Britain changed since 1997?" appear against the backdrop of an aerial camera shot sweeping at great speed along a shoreline.
1979: The word "Promises" appears and the letters crumble one by one as a voiceover tells how, when the Tories last got into power, they broke their promises.

Shirley Williams
Laid back: Shirley Williams
Duration of broadcast
2001: Two minutes, 30 seconds.
1979: Nine minutes, 30 seconds.

Shot count
2001: 96 shots, averaging one every 1.56 seconds.
1979: 32 shots, averaging one every 17.8 seconds.

Politician count
2001:
Zero.
1979: Six, including John Silkin (Agriculture Minister), Stanley Orme (Minister for Social Security), Dr David Owen (Foreign Secretary).

The message in 2001
The message in 2001, with Dickie Bird

Celebrity count
2001:
Three: Geri Halliwell, retired cricket umpire Dickie Bird and paralympic gold medallist Tanni Grey-Thompson.
1979: Zero.

Geri Halliwell
Spicing up the election: Geri Halliwell
Political content
2001:
No talking, bar a perky "Tea's ready" from Geri. Instead Labour's message is conveyed in a sequence of 32 written messages.
1979: The prime minister ruminates at length on the frustrations felt by many in the face of strikes, unemployment and inflation, while warning viewers against the Tories' "extreme" policies. He and his chancellor promise great strides forward in terms of prices, jobs and labour relations in the upcoming 1980s.

Typical statement of achievement
2001:
"Pensions up"
1979: "The last Tory government lost 15 million working days a year in strikes. Under Labour we have lost only eight million"

Closing slogan
2001:
"The work goes on"
1979: "The Labour way is the better way"

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14 May 01 |  Vote2001
Geri spices up Labour broadcast
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