In late 1967, the British economy was in a mess mainly as a result of spiraling imports. When Conservative MP John Boyd-Carpenter suggested that factory workers should sacrifice one day each weekend, the idea was seized upon by five secretaries from Colt Ventilation and Heating in Surbiton, Surrey who volunteered to work an extra half-hour each day without pay to boost productivity. They urged others to do the same with the slogan: "I'm Backing Britain". A wave of patriotism quickly swept the UK and the campaign became a nationwide movement within a week. The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, endorsed the campaign, the Poet Laureate wrote a special poem and The Union Flag logo could be seen throughout the country on shopping bags as the British people got caught up in a wave of patriotic fervor.
On January 8, 1968, Pye Records issued a single titled "I'm Backing Britain" in support of the campaign. Written by the husband and wife hitmaking team of Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, and sung by one of Britain's favorite TV entertainers Bruce Forsyth, the song seemed destined for chart success.
However, trouble was brewing for the campaign. Trade unions were opposed, as they saw it as an attempt to extend working hours surreptitiously and to hide inefficiency by management. Paul McCartney regarded the movement as ridiculous. His Beatles song "Back In The U.S.S.R.
" was originally titled "I'm Backing The UK" and was partly inspired by the campaign.
The single failed to trouble the UK charts despite all involved in making the disc taking cuts in their fees or royalties so that the record sold for 5 shillings instead of the going rate of 7s 4. It sold a paltry 7319 copies in total.
Meanwhile the Backing Britain campaign itself was failing to have any noticeable effect on individual companies or the economy and by the spring of 1968, interest had petered out.