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Vote, Vote, Vote, for Nigel Barton (1965)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

When a Tory MP dies in a hunting accident, a by-election is called and Nigel Barton decides to run as the Labour candidate. His wife Anne sees how excited he is by the prospect, but is critical of his motives. Nigel's political agent, Jack, takes him to speak to a ladies group. They reject his intellectual approach to politics and are offended by his attempts at humour. Jack tells Nigel that he must take a simpler and more populist approach. Nigel tells Jack how much he admired Nye Bevan for his speech at an anti-Suez rally, but Jack tells him how far this put Labour back in the polls.

Anne and Jack fight over her upper-class background. Jack and Nigel go canvassing and meet with little sympathy. Nigel realises that Jack, beneath his cynical exterior, is still committed to the ideals of the Labour Party. At a meeting with a group of local Labour Party workers, an elderly woman chides Jack for hiding his deeper feelings about politics. She also criticises Nigel for his timidity and lack of ambition, even if the odds are stacked against him in a predominantly Tory district. Jack tells Nigel to write letters of condolence to the families of people who have recently died, but he eventually rejects this idea in disgust. They go to an old people's home and Nigel is greatly affected by the sad conditions in which many old and infirm men find themselves.

At the Annual Council Dinner, Nigel listens to the Tory candidate give a self-congratulatory speech in which he claims that things are getting better for everyone, although his assessment clearly excludes people from minorities. Nigel furiously attacks the speech for its complacence and backward-looking agenda. The other guests are clearly unhappy by Nigel's speech and Jack is furious. The guests eventually drown out Nigel's words by beating the cutlery on their tables. In anger, Nigel turns to the Tory candidate and makes an obscene gesture, which is captured by a newspaper photographer and put on the front page. Afterwards, Anne tells Nigel that he has restored her faith in him, even though she feels that the gesture was a mistake. Jack agrees that Nigel will probably lose his deposit and walks away in disgust. Nigel urges everyone to vote and use the privilege.