Category Archives: Campaign Corner

Local and European campaign review

Fortis Green by-election 2004: volunteers at work stuffing envelopesAs Chair of the Party’s democratically-elected Campaigns & Communications Committee, Nick Clegg has asked me to conduct a review into the Local and European election campaign and result. I will be joined in doing this work for Nick by a small group comprised of Cllr. Abi Bell of Hull City Council, Cllr Ruth Dombey – Leader of Sutton Borough Council, and George Lyon – former MEP for Scotland.

I have spoken to Nick and we have agreed that this review will be a full …

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Rebuilding our campaigning base in York

Image courtesy of freefoto.comYork is a classic example of an English city where the Liberal Democrats developed a strong local base as voters became disillusioned with both the Conservatives and later Labour in the 1990s and 2000s. After two decades of Labour control we won a landslide victory in 2003 and formed the administration on City of York Council for eight years. As elsewhere, in 2011 we took a hammering from the voters, our first electoral test as a party of government.

The unitary authority of York is split into two parliamentary constituencies including the marginal (famously ‘doughnut-shaped’) York Outer, a seat that the Conservatives won with a majority of less than 7% over us at the 2010 general election.

Within months of a disappointing general election result, we rightly anticipated a tough fight in all-up local elections in 2011, especially against the unfavourable national picture. A resurgent Labour Party took eight council seats from us to win overall control, including five seats in York Outer that they won from third place.

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Ride the wave! Two chances to celebrate…

Want to celebrate the fantastic result in Eastleigh?

Why not join a working celebration at Regional Action Days in either Watford or Lewes, tomorrow, Saturday 2nd March.  There’ll be good company, free food and invigorating campaigning.

Normally, the local teams for these Regional Action Days need at least a few days notice. However, normal promotion hasn’t been possible this time round, so for these events we’d welcome last minute registrations.

But please do register, even if it’s in the early hours of Saturday morning, here for Lewes and herefor Watford.

As far as we can, the teams want to …

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Marginal gains

Silver bullet - some rights reserved by eschipulToo often people come into political campaigning searching for a silver bullet which will revolutionise their candidacy and transform the electorate into ardent fans overnight. It’s the most common mistake of first time candidates. Those of us who have already spent decades stuffing letterboxes know that a quick fix doesn’t exist.

That isn’t to say there aren’t campaign game-changers – the advent of television or how some candidates have harnessed the internet, but in truth they are few and far between. Instead candidates and campaigns

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Sometimes to win an argument, you need to adopt your opponent’s point of view

Wedding bouquetFraming, that is the way in which a choice is presented, is often key to winning political (and indeed non-political) debates. Consider the following two statements, for example:

It’s dreadful that the government is letting private companies access more medical data about people.

It’s great that the government is letting medical researchers access more medical data about diseases.

They are both ways you could describe the current government’s actual policy. Whether the issue is framed as being about private companies or medical researchers and whether it is about personal data or information about diseases …

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Now here’s a good email to send to local members and supporters

Top marks Haringey Liberal Democrats for taking up my idea on this (properly formatted version here). Simple, practical and providing people with useful information:

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Not all is quite so new in the world of political messaging and behaviour change

On my way to windmill spotting in Lincoln recently, I happened across this example of an 19th century election leaflet for the City of Lincoln’s local elections:

It’s a neat example of a point I’ve made before, that what can seem new and exciting in the world of communications often is really long-established ideas in slightly new clothes.

In this case, note two particular features of the message. First, the reference to electors having previously elected Mr Page four times before. In other words, …

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Romney’s polling day technology meltdown: Orca

The usual post-electoral defeat search for explanations and people to blame has an added edge for the Republicans after Mitt Romney’s defeat earlier this month. Not only did Romney lose, he lost in all the states that were picked as being in serious contention, the Republicans actually lost ground in the Senate (when they had hopes of making gains) and the initial voting analysis shows the Republicans with a big problem: the parts of the electorate that are growing are the parts which vote against them the most heavily.

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Campaign Corner: The four groups in good local party membership strategy

I’ve written before about ways to recruit more party members and related issues such as the need to respond well to people who are interested in joining or helping. Underpinning that latter post is an important point – a good strategy for getting more people involved and helping isn’t just about formal membership of the party.

Pretty nearly all local parties recognise that these days. The idea that the “members newsletter” only goes to paid-up members, as used to be the case, is now a rarity. Instead …

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What do the academics say? Ashcroft’s campaigning worked

Welcome to the latest in our occasional series highlighting interesting findings from academic research. Today – the impact of the Ashcroft-funded Conservative key seats campaign in the run-up to the 2010 election.

The latest edition of the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (Volume 22, No.3) includes, “Laying the Foundations for Electoral Success: Conservative Pre-Campaign Canvassing before the 2010 UK General Election” by David Cutts, Ron Johnston, Charles Pattie and Justin Fisher:

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6 things Lib Dem campaigners can learn from Boris Johnson and George Galloway

Boris Johnson has twice won a contest for a directly-elected Mayor. George Galloway has recently won a Parliamentary by-election.

That is why, for all the many reasons Liberal Democrats have for criticising both, smart Liberal Democrats also know that there are lessons to be learnt from their electoral successes.

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10 ways to make your local party AGM better

The nights are getting shorter, the football has started and the first few “x days to Christmas” signs are appearing in shops. Yes, it all  means that the local party AGM season is approaching.

To help local parties get the most out of them, here then is a reminder of the simple factsheet giving 10 tips to lift an AGM from being a boring, business meeting that no-one comes to into an interesting and successful event. Though written in conjunction with London Liberal Democrats, the tips are applicable across the country.

Hope you find it useful – and of course please do share this post (or this pdf) with whoever is involved in organising the AGM in your own local party.

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How to write, with the help of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Tim Leunig

How to speak. That’s a common topic in training for would-be candidates and a frequent chapter in books for would-be campaigners. How to write? Much less so.

That’s an omission I plead guilty to, for 101 Ways To Win An Election has a chapter called “Making speeches” with no accompanying “Writing words”. Implicit in many of the other chapters are ideas that will help you to write effectively. Yet on reflection there should really have been explicit advice too.

Short, sharp writing has always been important for leaflets and news …

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How a deliverer can recruit two deliverers

There are martyrs who will do anything for the Liberal Democrats … except ask for help.

They drive themselves to an early grave delivering thousands of leaflets, canvassing, and organising everything else in their local party.

Nothing scares them … except asking for help.

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The sensible campaigner is the campaigner with backups

The office wall in one of my former jobs had a cartoon with two drunks slumped in an alleyway bemoaning their fate. One was saying to the other, “It all started to go wrong when I realised the backups hadn’t been working…” He at least had been trying to use backups.

Sometimes people fear trusting data to computers, worried that a wrong key press may result in valuable information being lost. That is to get things wrong: data is safer on computers because it is much easier to do regular backups.

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A campaign thought for the weekend

Laptop and mobileThe latest Ofcom survey shows that 94% of UK households use mobile phones.

Now consider what proportion of UK households have a usable letterbox for delivery of campaign leaflets; i.e. exclude those rural homes without a letterbox, those urban blocks of flats with just a door to push leaflets under, the multiple occupancy houses with a communal hallway but no personal letterboxes and so on.

And then there’s that property on the electoral register which, despite you circling the block four times, taking a peak from the skies …

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How to survive a campaign and not sell your soul

The successful (and at times rather controversial) Australian pollster Mark Textor has a great piece in the Sydney Morning Herald about how to survive election campaigns. It includes these tips:

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Beware putting your family in election leaflets

One detail from Carina Trimingham’s unsuccessful legal action this week (possibly subject to appeal) is about using families in election leaflets:

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Five of the most common mistakes that Lib Dem campaigners make

Over the next few weeks, I’m taking part in a handful of training sessions about learning the lessons from May’s elections. There’s much to learn from May and from being in government, but I’ve also noticed that many of the old favourite, long-running lessons are very much still with us. So here’s my selection of the top five of those Golden Oldies.

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Campaign Corner: Good luck

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented on or contributed ideas for the Campaign Corner series over the last 25 weeks. With this final post, it’ll have been going for six months and now, with people in full flight campaigning for May’s elections, is a good moment to bring it to an end.

If you are putting some of that advice to the test in May, and especially if you’re a Liberal Democrat!, best of luck and I hope it helps.

(If you’re not a Liberal Democrat by all means do follow the main themes of the advice: the public hate …

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Campaign Corner: How do we recruit more members?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: How do we recruit more members?

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Campaign Corner: How can we talk more policy?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: A strange question perhaps, but we seem to spend all the time in my local party talking about campaigning and never about policy. Maybe that didn’t matter in opposition, but it certainly matters in government! How can we get a better balance?

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Campaign Corner: How can we run our committee meetings better?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Why yes, I’ve just come out of a local party campaign team meeting. Many hours, no decisions. Please help!

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Campaign Corner: How do we get more people phoning?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: You’ve talked before about how to get more leaflet deliverers and how to doorstep canvass, but what about the telephone? How do I get more people in my branch doing phone canvassing?

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Campaign Corner: How can I best use Facebook?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: How can I get the best out of Facebook for my ward branch?

Around half the UK’s population is on Facebook, so if you’re wondering what to spend time on campaigning online, then Facebook is a very good choice (perhaps these days it is second only to email). Three pieces of advice then, as is traditional:

Also posted in Online politics | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Campaign Corner: How can I make my direct mail better?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: We’ve started doing a lot more direct mail in my local party, partly because there are so many shared houses and blocks with one letterbox. How can we make our letters better?

Direct mail is a very important and powerful tool, as long as you remember it’s about quality as well as quantity:

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Campaign Corner: What should I measure?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: I work in marketing for the day job, where measuring impact and altering our plans as a result is the norm. In the evenings when I become a Lib Dem campaigner however, measuring seems to go out the window and we just do what we always did. Surely we can do better than that?

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Campaign Corner: Making better speeches

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: I often get very nervous when speaking in public. Speeches at the Civic Centre may not matter much but I do want to make a good impression at local groups – and at party conference! What do you advise?

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Campaign Corner: How can we be better at handling possible new helpers or members?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: Your mystery shopper survey of local parties criticises local parties for not treating possible new members better. We’re a small, struggling local party and it’s hard enough to run the basic operation. How can we be better without exhausting overselves?

5 Comments

Campaign Corner: Getting the most out of a delivery session

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: We’re organising a mass delivery session next weekend. Any last minute tips on what we should do?

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  • User AvatarToby Matthews 31st Oct - 4:19pm
    RC- Please note that the article specifically discusses reducing other taxes. Your other points seem to reiterate what I have already mentioned. LVT is not...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 31st Oct - 4:14pm
    RC You are quite wrong when you say -- ".. But it is not realisable wealth unless you move somewhere else to live. It is...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 31st Oct - 4:08pm
    This news was shocking. Disgraceful that Clegg should in any way defend it. Whilst there is undoubtedly a problem with refugees in the Mediterranean region...
  • User AvatarRC 31st Oct - 4:07pm
    @ Toby Matthews "LVT would be higher in London because wages are higher in London. Note that supermarket employees in London are paid more than...
  • User AvatarT-J 31st Oct - 3:56pm
    Ok, I admit that I lumped you in with a few other former LibDems turned Green members, apologies for that if you are now unattached....
  • User AvatarToby Matthews 31st Oct - 3:47pm
    Nobody is 'taking aim at London'. It has been mentioned many times here that much of London (tenants) has everything to gain from a free...