Don’t get mad, get even: Join the Lib Dems

Just received an email from Tim Farron.

“Incredible news , “he reported, “moments ago, our membership reached 85,002.”

I wrote back: “Not enough.”

We are still in fourth place. Labour stands at 515,000. The conservatives are 150,000 and the SNP is 120,000.

The United Kingdom is a tribal nation and its politics reflect the tribes that divide it.

The Liberal Democrats are a unifying force. That is one of the main reasons I joined it. But to succeed it must break the tribal lock that has bedevilled British politics for nearly 200 years.

The only way to be certain of success is to have MORE members than any other political party. It sounds like a tall order. It is. But it is a necessary one.

To break the knot of tradition, family ties and apathy we need to have the largest possible army of foot soldiers pushing leaflets through letterboxes and arguing on doorsteps and in the street and at the workplace.

Our main weapon is the correct policies. But to win acceptance of correct policies over apathetic tradition requires more effort than that expended by any other British political party.

The anger sparked by Brexit  and exacerbated by the Tories heartless austerity and Labour’s gutless acquiescence has provided Lib Dems with an enormous hammer. We need to use it while it is still in the political marketplace.

Therefore, I would like to propose before the Spring Conference  that the Lib Dems stage a series of days devoted to membership drives. That Lib Dem HQ produce leaflets, banners and membership forms which can be distributed under the slogan of “Don’t Get Mad—Get Even—Join the Lib Dems.”

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain". To subscribe to his email alerts on world affairs click here.

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  • Catherine Jane Crosland 13th Mar '17 - 9:55am

    I’m not sure that “Don’t get mad, get even” is really the right slogan. It sounds a bit vengeful, doesn’t it? Who exactly are we supposed to be “getting even” with? Wouldn’t a more positive slogan be better?

  • I don’t think the Tories are anywhere near 150,000 either. Rumour has it that they are not that much above 100,000 currently, they are very shy about revealing the figures… in other words we could overtake them sooner rather than later.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 13th Mar '17 - 10:09am

    For a more positive slogan, how about something like “The future is ours to make – Join the Lib Dems and be part of the change you want to see.” I know that’s not very original, and may have been used before, but that’s just a suggestion for the sort of more positive message we should be putting across.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 13th Mar '17 - 10:21am

    But I suppose the membership figures you quote for different parties, shows that there is not necessarily very much correlation between membership numbers and electoral success. Labour has far more members than the Conservatives, but the Conservatives are way ahead of Labour in the polls.

  • Tom. I would agree that party membership should be a huge priority. Not only in terms of foot soldiers but vitality and ideas. The ‘time and tide’ for the LibDems is now, and that quote from Shakespeare has never been more true. I agree with Catherine, the slogan is off the mark. More along the lines of ‘Fed up: Do something: Join the LibDems. Again not a bulls eye but I’m sure that the words can be found. Personally, I am angry and there are a few people I would love to get even with but revenge is a desert best served cold.

  • Oops: That should have been ‘dessert’ hate auto fill.

  • We need more members, but there is currently no correlation between size of Party memberships & sucsess in either “The Polls” or in real Elections.
    To use a business analogy, there is no point in expanding your salesforce if you have already saturated your potential market. Labours problems are all to do with what they are selling, having more peole to sell it is no help.
    We have a great product & we can use every extra member.

  • Sue Sutherland 13th Mar '17 - 12:11pm

    I rather like the don’t get mad get even slogan because there are a lot of people out there who are very cross about Brexit but who don’t belong to a political party. It speaks to their anger about being ignored by this government. Others are saying they will vote Lib Dem having voted differently in the past. My evidence is from various anti Brexit Facebook groups. There is a time when anger is justifiable and we should be using it to cut through the twaddle and put the blame for Brexit on the Tories and their right wing wealthy cronies who own the “popular press”.

  • Eileen Riley 13th Mar '17 - 12:33pm

    I agree entirely with the idea but not with the slogan. I’m not trying to get even with anyone, I’m trying to convince them that the Lib Dems have the best policies to create the kind of country that we all want for ourselves and for our children. I’m trying to get people to realise that they can’t keep sitting on the sofa and hoping/expecting someone else to fix things. A fairer, more just society won’t just happen; we have to work for it. We need people to realise that if they leave it to someone else, they get someone else’s idea of what our future should be like. So, my slogan would be more: Don’t Get Mad – Get Active – Join the Lib Dems.

  • Matt (Bristol) 13th Mar '17 - 1:17pm

    Yes, ish, but we now are beginning to face the day when we need to pivot from what we are against to what we are for. Anger will carry us into that phase, for sure, but we need to be more than the ‘I hate the fact that the Tories misled and sold out the entire country’ party.

  • On the other hand, we could put all of the members of England & Wales’ political parties into a single large city?
    Scotland is different, because the SNP has kept the members is gained after the first Indyref – even allowing for ScotLab imploding it must have the largest % of population who are party members, if we extrapolated the Nats’ alone into the UK stage, that would be 1.25m plus!

    Really though it boils down to cause, policy, involvement and retention. A 360 degree self appraisal of each of these might be illustrative!

  • Phil Wainewright 13th Mar '17 - 4:13pm

    Don’t get mad, get LibDem.

  • @Phil Wainewright
    Think I like that. 🙂

  • Eileen Riley 13th Mar '17 - 6:18pm

    I like it too.

  • Sue Sutherland 13th Mar '17 - 7:58pm

    I could go for that too, but I still don’t think many people realise that the Tories have sold out the whole country and we need anger to energise an opposition to this con.

  • Toby Keynes 14th Mar '17 - 9:18am

    As an ex membership officer, I can tell you that the first year’s membership renewal is always by the most difficult. Members are far more likely to lapse at the end of their first year than in any subsequent year.
    So if you have a terrific recruitment year followed by an average one, you’d actually expect membership to rise in the 1st year and then fall back in the second.
    We’ve been pulling in members for 20 months now – ever since May 2015 – so it’s inevitable that we’re now losing a proportion of them along the way, and there’s no benefit in agonising about it.
    Having said that, it’s very clear that we’re clearly gaining many more than we’re losing; and we’re already seeing the results in local by-election after local by-election: people are out there standing for election and campaiging, in places where not long ago we couldn’t find campaigners or even paper candidates.
    Having said that, area parties have to do their bit to hold onto those new members.
    Areas that offer their new members the chance to participate – to go to social functions, to discuss policy, to get involved in local campaigns &c. – will hold onto most of them.
    Those that don’t, won’t.

  • Simon Banks 18th Mar '17 - 6:43pm

    It’s not the size that matters, it’s what you do with it.

    The rapid increase in membership is marvellous, but since a good proportion of the post-general-election joiners at least said they were ready to get involved and help, and in any influx of new members there will be some potential front-rank activists, the issue is how effectively we contact, encourage and bring them forward. Some local parties have been extremely successful at this, perhaps particularly formerly weak ones who needed to fill key positions. It would be interesting to know how Party pressure and interest groups have done with engaging the newcomers.

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