History

How political leaflets used to look: a Focus newsletter from Kendal, 1979

With thanks to John Studholme, here’s what one Focus newsletter looked like back in the 1970s. The technology for doing leaflets may have changed and designs altered, but the underlying purpose is still very familiar.

Castle ward Focus newsletter 1979 page 1
Castle ward Focus newsletter 1979 page 2

A councillor from 1974, John Studholme stood down in 2006 with the party having grown in the area to include a Liberal Democrat MP, and a majority on both the town and district council.

For more gems from past election leaflets, see my collection How leaflets used to look.

6 responses to “How political leaflets used to look: a Focus newsletter from Kendal, 1979”

  1. My files start in 1968 and the first AD LIB (the forerunner of Focus) from 1970 is followed by a pretty complete set (including other parties’ leaflets occasionally) and election materials. They are all destined for Hants County Archives in my will. When I lost my seat for the second time in 2003 I deposited twenty years’ of leaflets and Focuses (from West End, my seat) in the county archives, as well as four ring files of correspondence. The archivist positively beamed, telling me ‘We never get stuff like this!’ I told her, ‘Anyone interested in researching local politics in the late 20th century will see that only about 5% of a councillor’s correspondence is about politics and the other 95% is about four issues: potholes, street lights which are out, overhanging hedges and dog shit.’ It also makes you wonder what sort of person wants to spend their spare time dealing with such matters!

  2. Hi Mark

    I am a LibDem member since 2016. I have always voted tactically, so have voted LibDem in most elections. I am an Intellectual Property manager there in as part of me job I manage trademarks and train sme’s and start ups in brand management.

    As a new campaigner fir the LibDems I am baffled by the use of and quite fed up with the Focus as a tool. Not the newsletter, the name. More often than not I am asked to deliver newsletters that do not carry our brand name. LibDems or Liberal Democrats. Once I went to vote and Liberal Democrats were on the ballot as Liberal Democrat Focus Team. I voted Labour because Lib Dems weren’t listed. As a non LibDem at the time I didn’t know what the Focus was and took it to be an independent party.

    My point is the Focus is an in house name it is only known by members and traditional Lib Dem voters. It is not part of our brand. We need to reach new voters. Resources are tight we can’t wast money and delivering time on anything that has less than maximum impact and doesn’t carry our name.

    Why are LibDems so attached to this Name the Focus. It doesn’t express any kind of value or relevance. We don’t own the trademark but plenty of others do. Can you tell me where it originated?

    • Thank you for your support Elizabeth. The Focus name dates back many decades, to the middle of the last century. Where it’s used regularly, people start recognising it as useful/interesting newsletter from the Lib Dems, and so it can be a very effective piece of branding.

  3. What’s wrong with Ad Lib? It’s a familiar phrase connected with saying something, albeit maybe somewhat ad hoc. But there’s no denying most readers would connect it with the LIBeral Democrats, especially when published with political content. Focus is well known among party activists, but nowhere else. When delivering, no householder has ever told me “thanks for your Focus leaflet”. They usually say “thanks for your leaflet”, no matter how many times you shove it through their letter box or hand it over personally, whereas you can be sure whatever they do say is . . . Ad Lib!

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