Campaigning isn’t just about leaflets: Talacre Gardens

At the weekend I popped over to Camden, to film Cllr Matt Sanders talking about campaigning in Talacre Gardens. It’s a great example of what local campaigning can achieve – working with residents to protect a green space – and how leaflets are a means to that end rather than an end in themselves. That’s a theme I’ll be returning to quite often over the summer as I co-write a new edition of the ‘how to win your ward’ book for ALDC, but in the meantime here’s the film:

Also available on YouTube here.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • The film isn’t loading and is blocking the rest of the front page (it’s loading fine on the separate page for this post), and any earlier entries on the front page aren’t showing up at all.
    Any chance to get that fixed?

  • Andrew Marshall 14th Jul '10 - 5:36pm

    As I happened to see this on twitter – The funny thing on Talacre Gardens is that the LibDem members of Camden’s cabinet had all decided that they would follow officers’ advice (and the view of their Conservative colleagues) and NOT make the open space a “town green”, because this would add little and would in fact take away the future democratic right of the local community to take sensible decisions about the land if circumstances changed. But the LibDem council group overruled its executive members and effectively mandated them to support the Town Green option. One said he felt pretty unhappy about having to make such a populist vote. The Conservative members of the cabinet didn’t vote for the town green – the only time in four years curiously enough that our “double majority” lock in our local coalition agreement didn’t hold.

    Cllr Andrew Marshall

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jul '10 - 10:30am

    Mark is 30 years too late. The idea that campaigning wasn’t just about winning local elections, but rather about getting things done and showing that you don’t have to accept the status quo was bubbling up in the Liberal Party in the 1970s. Community politics wasn’t just what has become known (quite unfairly) as “Rennardism”. It was about the Liberal Party being more of a network than a top-down organisation, a network which trained people to take power for themselves, which showed that politics was something for ordinary people, that the defeatist “it isn’t worth bothering” attitude is rubbish.

    All this was killed by the foundation of the SDP. The SDP was all about top-down leader-oriented politics. The SDP and their supporters in the press – the Liberal Party had no supporters in the press – threw abuse at us Liberals, telling us we didn’t know how to win elections, that they would show us how to do it – bring in the ad-men to run glossy campaigns from the top. They simply did not get the idea that politics should not be just about regarding the electorate as consumers, it should instead be about encouraging them to get active. Not surprising, because that is how an ad-man thinks. An ad-man is about working for his client, the boss of the company whose products he is selling. An ad-man certainly isn’t about encouraging consumers of that product to take control and throw out the boss.

    The process by which the Liberal Party and the SDP came together and became the Liberal Democrats involved those of the SDP who didn’t understand local campaigning dropping out, and those who did grudgingly admitting that maybe those bearded sandalled people had a bit of sense after all, but they only took on the surface aspects of it i.e. what has become known as “Rennardism”. Those radicals in the Liberal Party who wanted to do so much more were worn out by having to negotiate with the SDP, having constantly to deal with their poor assumptions, and sometimes having to let them try and lose in order to show the tactics we advocated made sense. Because of this, all those interesting ideas that had been bubbling up just did not get developed. Because we had to convince a sceptical SDP, they had to be translated to “look, these tactics really do help us win elections” and they became stuck at that.

    Although there are plenty enough people around from that time, all this seems to have been forgotten. If it had not been forgotten., Mark would not be giving us this as a revelation when in fact he is just repeating what was commonplace back in those days just before the disaster of 1991 and the SDP. I don’t mean by this to attack anyone involved in the SDP at the time, the problem was most of them were very naive and this was the last gasp of establishment politics still getting a sizeable audience who thought they could work through it. Obviously also I am writing from the perspective of the radical wing of the Liberal Party, the more establishment wing of the Liberal Party were relieved to have the SDP (or perhaps actively encouraged its formation) in order to have its backing in their beating back these radical developments.

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Jul '10 - 10:32am

    Typo – 1981, not 1991. It seems fresh enough in my mind that it feels like it ought to have been 1991 …

  • Richard Underhill 25th Aug '17 - 12:10pm

    Some of the most important gardens in the UK are at risk at RHS Wisley near a junction between the M25 and the A3. Although Alan Titchmarsh is used to being in front of a camera, neither he, nor the RHS spokesman are punchy enough. The trees are only 100 years old. Given wisdom in government, they can grow for two thousand years and even survive forest fires.
    Sequoia can make the tallest tree in the world, or the biggest.

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