Thursday, 17 December 2015

Back to the future with Jon Botten's Grandfather's archives

West Kent's Office Manager, Jon Botten, is not from a longstanding Conservative tradition. His maternal grandfather, the fabulously named A. J. G Snitter, was Voluntary Agent of the Tonbridge Labour Party through the 1960s. Mr Snitter sadly died in 2013 and left Jon his archives. There is only so much interest in Minutes of fractious Labour Party meetings, but today Jon brought in a few gems which he has given me permission to share on this blog. 

In 1974 the newly created Tonbridge & Malling constituency was considered by the psephologists to be a marginal Conservative-leaning seat. The Conservatives selected a young banker named John Stanley. The Labour Party had a shortlist of four, three locals and one "London Intellectual Lefty" from Islington, by the name of Jack Straw. Jack was selected - and here is his 1974 election poster:

Here is Jack's main election leaflet (front):

And the reverse...note the words beneath his signature "My wife Anthea teaches backward children in a large London comprehensive."  How acceptable language changes over time!

And for all those people who complain about modern campaigning being all about style and not about substance, the election newspaper below seemed to be far too much 'substance' and far too little style. This was a four-page broadsheet, each page like the one below without s single photograph to break-up the text. What's more - people had to pay 3d for the privilege to read it!

And finally, for all those long-suffering Agents, Campaign Managers and Organising Secretaries out there who, like me, rail against the 22 pages of election expense paperwork we must now complete for every local candidate, here is what was expected from candidates in 1962; half a foolscap page! Who says progress always makes things better! 

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