The development of communication between the government, the media and the people in Britain, 1945-51
This thesis will argue that 1945-51 was a seminal period in the development of communication between the Government, the media and the people in Britain. The Attlee Government was the first British Government to fully engage with the dilemma of how a Government communicates with its citizens to sustain a credible democracy. To do this it established the modern machinery of Government communication and used the mass media extensively. Its experience, and in particular the crises it faced during its two terms in office, caused it to shift away from an idealistic vision of helping to develop an informed electorate towards the pragmatic use of information as a means of persuasion and a tool for engineering consent. The period laid the framework, in other words, of modern information management. In order to demonstrate this the thesis will show how the Government's attitudes changed over its period in office, and how its approach towards communication altered. It will start by examining how and why the Government established the machinery of communication in 1945. It will then seek to explain why the Government's relationship with the Press deteriorated so far and so fast, and with what consequences. It will try to demonstrate that there was the genuine possibility of radical reform of the Press and that it is important to understand why this did not happen. The thesis will go on to consider the closeness of the Government-BBC relationship after the war and how that closeness seriously damaged the credibility of the Corporation's monopoly. It will assess the Government's major experiment in film-making and why it found it so difficult to use film as a means of informing the public. And, it will show how the Government ignored, alienated and eventually collaborated with the newsreels. The thesis will end by assessing the distance the Government had travelled in its use of communication.