Susan Carruthers: ‘Propaganda, Publicity and Political Violent: The Presentation of Terrorism in Britain, 1944-60’

Carruthers, S.L., ‘Propaganda, publicity and political violence: the presentation of terrorism in Britain, 1944-60’
Ph.D completed 1994. Leeds University

Abstract: Through a series of case studies, this thesis examines British attitudes to `terrorism’ as practised during various post-war colonial insurgencies. What did British governments and colonial officials understand by this term, as applied to the Jewish insurgents in Palestine at the end of the Mandate, the Malayan Communists, Mau Mau, and EOKA in Cyprus? The thesis focuses particularly on the way in which propaganda has been seen as a crucial component of the terrorist strategy. Consequently, in the attempt to deny insurgents publicity, and to mediate the perception of politically motivated violence held by various domestic and international audiences, British governments have used a wide variety of propaganda and news-management techniques. The thesis thus assesses the role of government propaganda in counter-insurgency. While some attention is paid to the employment of propaganda within the affected colonies themselves (as part of the `hearts and minds’ strategy), the focus is largely on government attempts to influence wider international audiences and, especially, domestic public opinion in Britain. The need to maintain public support at home for campaigns fought against `terrorism’ in the colonies has been a neglected aspect of most writings on counter-insurgency. However, a detailed examination of the files of the Colonial Office and Foreign Office information departments reveals that in each of the selected case studies, particular attention was paid to keeping domestic opinion `on side’. Not only have various Whitehall departments and the Central Office of Information produced official publicity material on these insurgencies, but the Foreign Office’s anti-communist Information Research Department has disseminated more covert material through the Trade Union movement and other channels. In addition, successive governments have sought to influence the press, newsreel and television coverage of events in the disputed territories.

Published Works:

By Second World War 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.

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