Summer 2021 | Windows 95 x Socialism

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Alex Sobel MP

Shadow Minister for Tourism and Heritage

Paul Kastner once said “If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren't really there”. For those of us who lived through the ‘90s we remember it in glorious hypercolour, dancing to the Stone Roses as the sun rose in a field.

The political and cultural landscape of the 90s is well remembered, with good reason. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison, Black Wednesday, the tragic death of Princess Diana and – of course – the 1997 General Election dominated the news. It was also the decade that saw the battle of Blur v Oasis, six seasons of Friends and many, many Tamagotchi deaths.

It was also the decade that technology upended our world – the true beginning of the electronic age. The 90s was a golden age for video games, as Microsoft and Windows quickly became ubiquitous, both at work and at home. In this artpack the designers have focussed more on the latter than the former. As someone who spent literally thousands of hours playing Sid Meier’s Civilisation series (before I embarked on the Labour Doorstep!) it’s filled me with nostalgia. The homage to Microsoft Windows games will bring back happy memories to all those who worked in a 90s office. Who didn’t enjoy the odd sneaky game of Solitaire, Pinball or Minesweeper at work? And who can forget Wordart – forever in our hearts.

Although this artpack is lighthearted, it’s also an important reminder that Gen X and Y are a hugely important part of the electoral coalition needed to win the next General Election. After the horrors of the 80s, our 90s memories our bathed in a warm glow – a kind of healthy nostalgia that we can tap into.

The 90s was a time of transformation for Labour campaigning. Sudden widespread ownership of home computers and the slow advance of the internet into homes and workplaces meant that leaflet design was transformed. Lucky CLPs had a member both proficient and equipped with desktop publishing software- for the rest, Microsoft Word and Paint had to suffice. Contact Creator had its exciting debut, although taking it with you on the doorstep was a pipedream!

Just like the 90s, we now need another paradigm shift and to transform our use of technology as a party. For me, Design and data are key to effective campaigning. The innovation and talent of organisations like the Labour Party Graphic Designers and Labour Society of Campaigners can be at the forefront of this transformation – its now up to the party to recognise it.

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