2018 ALDC Campaigner Awards – the results!

Our annual campaigner awards, which were sponsored by Election Workshop and presented by Willie Rennie MSP, were revealed during our AGM at Autumn Conference in Brighton.

The results were…

BEST LOCAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN

We were looking for local parties that have fought effective and strong 2018 local election campaigns.

Runner-up: Southwark

Following sobering 2017 results, it was decided that the local party needed to make changes to how it campaigned. Over the past decade or more much of Southwark has undergone significant changes in demographics, with an increasingly large number of young professionals that have few links to the area moving in, and a dwindling population of residents who have lived and grown-up locally. They realised that in order to once again be successful in the borough, we needed to appeal more effectively to a younger audience, who generally care more about national politics and big issues than matters relating to the council. This acknowledgement formed the basis for their 2018 election strategy. The campaign focused on targeting this particular group of voters by making two primary changes to our approach: the strength and consistency of our messaging and the ways in which we communicated with voters.

Ultimately their strategy paid-off, as we made our first seat gain from Labour since 2006 and now have 14 elected Councillors across the borough. This was a long way from the predictions many in Labour were making before the election and a real testament to everyone in the campaign. The result is all the more impressive given the national picture for urban Labour- facing constituencies.

Winner: Kingston

From 2014, 18 LD to 2018, 39 LD, this team have really paved the way, from their early plans in 2016 to borough-wide campaigns on Kingston Hospital disabled parking and knowing their numbers. Importantly the new group is made up of:

26 were new councillors, all of whom stood for the first time
The majority (21) were female, with at least one woman standing in every ward, two with newborns!
The age range was 22 to 74 years old, with every decade represented
23% are BAME and include the first Councillor of Korean heritage
They speak 10 different languages
They have strong LGBTQ and disability representation

BEST BY-ELECTION

We wanted to hear from teams that have helped us have another great year of by-elections gains.

Runner-up: Southwold, East Suffolk Liberal Democrats

Southwold and Reydon was a seat which had not been contested by the Liberal Democrats for many years at the district level and had been consistently held by the Conservatives for decades. When the sitting Conservative councillor died in May it was decided to run a full election campaign in the ward. David Beavan was already well known in the area as a long-time local resident and through a variety of interests from the local rugby club to being a sailing instructor as well as having stood in the County Council elections in 2017, coming second.

A lot of help was given by both local members and from across East Anglia which allowed most of the ward to be fully canvassed. The result:

LD David Beavan 1005 [71.4%; +71.4%]
Con 307 [21.8%; -28.4%]
Lab 78 [5.5%; -14.7%]
UKIP 18 [1.3%; -13.4%]
Grn 0 [[0.0%; -14.9%]]

From a standing start, a vote of almost 71% was outstanding.

Joint winner – Labour-facing: Pallion, Wearside

Martin Haswell’s campaign in Pallion, going from 4% in a ward that had never been worked by the Liberal Democrats and includes some of the most challenging, Brexit-voting estates in the whole city was a sensational result. To top it off, it was the former Leader of the Council’s seat which fell to the Lib Dems, sending shockwaves through the local Labour party.

It came on the back of Martin being an excellent, committed candidate who put hours of hard work in and had the political nous and charm to win as a first-time candidate. The campaign saw over 12,000 door-knocks which really made all the difference. The Result :

LD Martin Haswell 1251 [53.9%; +49.5%]
Lab 807 [34.8%; -15.9%]
Con 126 [5.4%; -7.2%]
UKIP 97 [4.2%; -24.7%]
Green 39 [1.7%; -1.8%]

Joint winner – Conservative-facing: Knaresborough, Harrogate

On 16th August 2018 the Harrogate & Knaresborough Lib Dems achieved a fantastic win in the North Yorkshire County Council by-election contesting one of the Knaresborough seats. The result – turning a Conservative majority of 31 into a Lib Dem majority of 738 – was down to the sheer hard work and determination of local members. The local party took into account lessons learned from May 2018 to mount a stronger and more successful campaign. The decision was made to deliver a leaflet each week as well as several targeted addressed letters. A particular focus was placed upon the importance of canvassing with teams out every weekend at well-attended action days and at regular weekday evening sessions. The campaign strategy involved highlighting all the hard work that David has done for the community over the years and his long list of campaigning successes for Knaresborough. Three particular priorities were emphasised: improving roads; improving the town centre and maintaining local public services.

The Result:

LD David Goode 2051 [54.9%; +20.2%]
Con 1313 [35.2%; -3.4%]
Lab 369 [9.9%; -1.4%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -6.8%]]
Grn 0 [[0.0%; -8.5%]]

BEST ACHIEVEMENT

ALDC are giving this award to celebrate the success of great community champions.

Runner-up: Ealing

The team campaigned against the proposal by Labour-run Ealing Council to install shared CPZ parking in 90% of Southfield ward (represented by three Lib Dem councillors) without consulting residents just after the local elections (perhaps when they thought the Lib Dems would relax!) This seemed likely to attract lots of additional commuter cars to the area, generating greater levels of pollution and causing local parking issues for residents especially those who need access from carers. As a result of the Lib Dem campaign, the council have significantly altered the scheme. This seems to me to be a great example of community campaigning, representing residents as it should be done.

Winner: Merton

Paul Kohler led the campaign. He had a compelling story on crime, as he’d been seriously attacked in his home in 2014. In the summer of 2017, London’s Mayor announces plans to close half of London’s police stations, including in Wimbledon. The team established their campaign (with an online petition and a hard-copy version for street stalls and door-to-door).

In late 2017, Paul Kohler starts a legal action, funded by a crowdfunding page, which the local group backs and helps to advertise. Ultimately, this raises over £11K. The Lib Dem team advertised the crowdfunding site in our emails and literature, which generated significant amounts, but there was also local, regional and national media coverage too. In March-May 2018: the legal action/fundraising becomes a core part of our local election campaign message – a strong message on crime, real action that contrasts with the Tories’ “back of an envelope” plans to put the burden onto local taxpayers, and Labour’s silence. So the Mayor’s decision to close Wimbledon police station held to be illegal because he’d not properly taken into account things in the Merton Lib Dem consultation response and as a result the Mayor will be re-making his decision on the future of Wimbledon police station.

OVERALL CAMPAIGN WINNER: WATFORD

The Watford Liberal Democrats stormed to victory in recent local and Mayoral elections, with Peter Taylor being elected Mayor with nearly 50% of the first preference vote. There was more success in the borough council elections, where the Lib Dems retained all of their councillors, including in Central against a big Momentum led effort and gained Callowland ward from Labour, electing Lowerstoft Road resident and local campaigner Ian Stotesbury. The current composition of the council now has 26 Lib Dems, 10 Labour and no Conservatives.

Congratulations to every team nominated for this year’s awards.

* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

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