Welcome to another leaflet from the archives, this time courtesy of Sutton Council leader Ruth Dombey who has kindly provided a copy of the first Focus leaflet put out in Sutton back in 1972. It kicked off the winning Parliamentary by-election campaign for Graham Tope and was put together by Liverpool’s Trevor “Jones the Vote” who pioneered many of the campaign tactics now taken for granted.
Some of the issues may feel rather familiar and given its pioneering nature I think we can forgive the missing apostrophes and question marks… Interesting too both the level of personal detail about Graham and the inclusion of a story about what the Liberal Party believed in.
The idea of regular newsletters had been pioneered by various Liberal councillors in the early 1960s, with Liverpool seeing the birth of the regular “Focus” moniker. The sequence of 1972 Parliamentary by-elections popularised Focus and related campaigning techniques around the party. Local lore in Sutton has it that this Focus was the first such outside Liverpool, though the gap between its inception in Liverpool and the Sutton by-election of around a decade means it is likely that at least some other areas near Liverpool had started using the name too before the by-election. However, I’ve not so far been able to pin down for sure any such use, so Sutton’s lore may yet turn out to be true.