Back in the 1960s the economy of the UK was suffering from tax increases, the greatest deficit in post-war history, ever widening balance of trade between exports and imports, and a spate of strikes and unofficial actions trying to undermine the economy from within.
The pound was devalued in a vain attempt to stave off looming economic collapse.
In 1967 one of my local MPs John Boyd-Carpenter (Conservative Member of Parliament for Kingston-upon-Thames) wrote to The Times suggesting, “If a number of people, particularly in responsible positions, would set by an example by sacrificing say the first Saturday of every month and working on that morning without extra pay, profits or overtime, it would give an example to others at home, and show the world that we were in earnest”.
This was the birth of what became known as the I’m Backing Britain campaign. It really took off as a national movement when five secretaries in Surbiton volunteered to work an extra half-hour each day without pay to boost productivity and urged others to do the same.
The invitation received an enormous response and a campaign took off spectacularly; it became a nationwide movement within a week. The flags and logos were everywhere and there was a Top 10 song released by Bruce Forsyth.
I’m Backing Britain became part of our vocabulary. I lived just down the road from where the campaign started and in that year started secondary school. Internationally it was probably best known as the year of The Summer of Love, but here we probably remember I’m Backing Britain more.
Times are hardly as grim now as they were then (whatever some people yattering on Twitter might think!) but wouldn’t it be great if we could share that spirit again.