The Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park in London seemed a good place to wear a bit of a statement t-shirt, and thanks to Freedom is in Peril for sending me this t-shirt!
Unfortunately, it does make people stare at your chest, but great slogans on t-shirts can get some great conversations going! This post was picking up pretty quickly by the Proms in the Park tweeters and re-tweeted!
A Little History
Well, I am a history lecturer!
Alongside ‘Your Courage…’, ‘Freedom is in Peril, Defend it with All Your Might’ was published, distributed and displayed almost immediately as war was declared. Even during the planning stages criticisms were raised that ‘Freedom’ is rather an abstract concept and was “likely to be too academic and too alien to the British habit of thought”. Mass-Observation reported that people felt that they could not defend ‘freedom’ because they cannot feel that they are being attacked, and this remained a problem throughout the ‘phoney war‘. The ‘Your Courage…’ poster probably attracted more anger than ‘Freedom is in Peril’ as there were twice as many produced as ‘Freedom is in Peril’, and the distinction between ‘You’ and ‘Us’ clearly struck a particular nerve. Keep Calm and Carry On of course never attracted any press coverage as it was never displayed.
Responsibility for the failure of campaigns was placed squarely with the government as it meant that, either the people had not been made to feel the urgency of the message, or that “the leaders have not spoken in a language which the people can understand and respond to.” The fact that “three-quarters of the population left school before they were fifteen” appeared to have been ignored. Minister of Supply, Herbert Morrison’s simple slogan ‘GO TO IT!’, echoed in posters, appears to have been far more positively received than “instructions in stiff and incomprehensible language”, although there was concern that this campaign would not mean anything once taken out of context of the speech in which it was made, a fear that appears to have been justified since ‘What is ‘it’?’ was scrawled upon posters.
Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.