How leaflets used to look – or how lazy previous MPs look to modern eyes

It’s the norm in politics, as in many other walks of life, to eulogise figures from the past and lament the supposed end of the truly great individuals.

This Conservative leaflet from the 1964 general election, for Roy Wise (Rugby), does show how in one respect past MPs certainly were different: the amount of casework they did for constituents.

Roy Wise boasts of writing 15,000 letters and seeing 2,000 people in person over 5 years. That’s just under 8 people a week and just under 60 letters a week on average. These days, there certainly are MPs whose attitude towards doing casework and surgeries raises and eyebrow or two. But seeing 8 people a week and doing just over 10 letters a weekday isn’t close to the sorts of levels that hard-working MPs hit now. And these, remember, are the figures for someone who thought his record was worth boasting about in 1964.

Another sign of the times is how Roy Wise talks up being local but also makes the point how rare that then was – “I am the only MP ever to have voted in a borough council election in Rugby”. Of course these days the strongly expressed preference of voters for local candidates makes that the norm rather than the rare exception.

Not all has changed, however, and many Conservative MPs in 2015 I suspect would be happy to run with, “I believe in the right of parents to send their children to fee-paying schools if they wish. I believe that our grammar schools enshrine a precious tradition which must be defended. All these things are threatened by Labour”.

Note too the panel about the cost of living and how the government, Wise argues, has a much better record than Labour – and has done particularly well by pensioners.

(Click on the images below to view larger versions.)

Roy Wise election leaflet side 1

Roy Wise election leaflet side 2


For more gems from past election leaflets, see my collection How leaflets use to look and the BBC’s coverage here.

2 responses to “How leaflets used to look – or how lazy previous MPs look to modern eyes”

  1. Do we really want our MPs and councillors to be so busy with individual casework? Isn’t it a measure of failure of community politics when citizens are unable to resolve problems for themselves?

    One way to assess the quality of customer service is how many hoops must be jumped before you speak to somebody who can fix or seriously address a problem. 

    On the other hand, if MPs and councillors diminish the need for their involvement, the message of their success is more difficult to explain to voters…

  2. In terms of letters this of course is in the days before MPs had much in the way of staff. Writing 60 letters a week takes some time especially if you have do all the research and background work yourself.

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