Whilst trying to track down a copy of a 23 year-old byelection pamphlet I was reminded of the problems of "grey literature". The leaflet I was looking for was from Simon Hughes, who was presenting the election as "A Straight Choice". The problem is that material that is published in an unconventional way (i.e. not a book, newspaper, periodical etc.) is often never kept, catalogued or archived. It usually means approaching the original source, which can be at best time consuming and at worst totally futile (in this case the party Hughes was a candidate for - The SDP Liberal Alliance - no longer exists).
The British Library has a host of grey literature on its catalogue (conference notes, theses etc), but I'm not sure if I would have found something like this there. The panic ended as I tracked down an image of the leaflet from this blog. (Aren't blogs great!?). And coincidently, the dates for Eighth International Conference on Grey Literature have just been announced as the 4-5 December 2006 at the University of New Orleans, USA. Not sure my new found interest in the subject will see me attending though . . .
Anyway, a backgrounder to the news story: Hughes, now a contender for the leadership of the LibDems (read here), was up against the openly gay Labour candidate, Peter Tatchell in the 1983 Bermondsey byelection, which Hughes went on to win . The story has resurfaced in recent days as Hughes has apologised for the homophobia the campaign may have stirred up (read here). Hughes has also taken the time to remind us that he himself is definitely not gay (read here).