How they used to do party political broadcasts: the Liberal Democrats in 1988

A blast from the past with one of the 1988 local election broadcasts from the Social and Liberal Democrats (then in its brief post-merger phrase of trying to go by the short name of The Democrats). Presenter Michael Barratt was one of the country’s leading TV presenters, having fronted Nationwide for eight years through to the late 70s.

The style of the broadcast – imitating a normal TV programme – is one that used to be popular but has since fallen out of favour. In part that’s due to the shortened length of party political broadcasts (or more accurately during an election, party election broadcasts). The sort of 10 minutes slots available then have since shrunk.

Also now out of favour is giving the sort of extensive local council content in a local elections broadcast that this 1988 one had. In the Liberal Democrats at least that’s in large part due to the way the party’s polling evidence stacked up – saying that people were little swayed in their local votes by hearing what the party had done in a local council in another part of the country.

Still in favour in more recent times was the mix of head and heart on display in the broadcast with its use of “cost-effective and caring”. You could almost say it’s a matter of having both economically responsible and fair policies. A stronger economy and a fairer society, even.

For a more successful blast from the past, complete with more jokes, take a look too at the first party political broadcast which John Cleese did for the party.

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