September 30, 2010

Resurrection of the Red Peril?

To WomenThe election of Ed Miliband as the new Labour Party leader has been portrayed by many as a break with New Labour centrism and a return to a more socialist or left-leaning Labour Party. One aspect of the press coverage has been a return to old-style "Red Peril" coverage - with the party leader being regularly described as "Red Ed", the union's friend.

This 1925 parliamentary bye-election leaflet, issued by the Unionist Party candidate for Walsall, provides a less subtle example of 'socialist threat' propaganda. Aimed at the recently enfranchised women voters, it declares that "socialism destroys marriage", will end the monarchy, stamp out religion, destroy the home, make divorce freely available, and introduce compulsory military and industrial conscription for all.

This "cool, dispassionate statement of the Socialist [i.e. Labour Party] Programme" was produced only eight years after the Russian Revolution and reflects fears of a revolutionary uprising in Britain, as well as portraying the Conservative and Unionist Party as the defenders of 'the institution of marriage'.

This document is included in the new resources for the History undergraduate module 'Gender, History and Politics in Britain'.

Click on the 'thumbnail' for a larger image.

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