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KS4 English: Early Political Appeals (1931)

Reviewing two early filmed political addresses

Main image of KS4 English: Early Political Appeals (1931)
AuthorPoppy Simpson BFI
TopicReviewing Political Speeches
Curriculum linksNC KS4 English - Developing speaking skills, responding and reviewing

Two early examples of politicians addressing the public.

These two short films show Labour and Conservative politicians Ramsay MacDonald and Stanley Baldwin respectively appealing for public support for the coalition National Government in the 1931 general election. This activity asks students to assess the success of the two in terms of public speaking and to present short oral reviews.

This starter/plenary activity would fit well within any lesson focussed on developing students oral and written reviewing skills.



Before showing students Ramsay MacDonald and Stanley Baldwin's political appeals, ask them to suggest what factors contribute to a successful public speech - encourage them to think about the language, clarity, delivery, body language etc.

Now, show students the two short films, reminding them that TV was still in its infancy in the 1930s and that these films would have been shown largely in cinemas (which accounts for the almost unedited nature of both addresses). Ask them to imagine that they are part of a 1930s focus group, previewing the two films in advance of their screening. They have been asked to give short oral feedback on the films, describing what they like and dislike about them and comparing and contrasting their impact. To focus students thinking, ask them to consider the two speeches against the various factors they identified in their initial discussion about successful public speaking.

Finally, hear a handful of 'oral reviews' of the films. What were students' reactions to the films? How persuasive did they find each speaker? How could the films have been improved? Was one more successful than the other and why?


Some more ideas

  • Ask students to discuss the ways in which politicians address the public has changed since the 1930s.
Video Clips
Complete film (1:47)
Complete film (5:09)

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Rt. Hon. Ramsay MacDonald, The (1931) Rt. Hon. Ramsay MacDonald, The (1931)

Read more about this film

Thumbnail image of Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin, The (1931)Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin, The (1931)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of Politics and Film 1903-1935Politics and Film 1903-1935

The politicians discover the power of cinema