National Action Weekend: 20th-22nd March

The Party has set an ambitious goal of knocking on 100,000 doors across England and Wales over the weekend of the 20th-22nd March and has a dedicated webpage for getting involved.

This is in support of the hundreds of local and regional elections happening in England and Wales in May this year, including Council, Mayoral and Police & Crime Commissioner elections.

These present an excellent opportunity to make huge gains across the country.

The Party is encouraging local parties to get involved by running dedicated events and campaigning sessions.

This coordinated weekend of campaigning will help boost the profile of the Party across the country and build momentum ahead of the elections. It’s also a good chance to get newer members involved in campaigning for the first time.

You can register your event, search for local events happening in your area and gain access to the National Action Weekend pack by following this link.

* Alan Muhammed is Liberal Reform Co-Chair & works as a Management Consultant. He is a former Guildford Borough Councillor & Lib Dem HQ Campaigns Staffer.

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  • This seems to me like yet another example of the ludicrous quantity over quality approach that has been taken to campaigning for too long in the party.

    When it comes to leafletting and canvassing, there seems to be an obsession with sending x number of leaflets or knocking x number of doors- meeting these targets is seen as an achievement.

    Surely we need to be looking at what we are actually delivering and what voters we are actually speaking to.

    We need to be much smarter and to be frank, modern, in how we approach things as a party. There is no point in knocking 100,000 doors or delivering a million leaflets (or whatever other meaningless number those in charge come up with) if these are reaching people who are never going to vote for us or in areas we can’t win.

    And don’t get me started on this obsession with ‘action days’ which have become virtually a weekly occurrence in some areas, with members being exhorted to attend. Surely it is more effective to retain volunteers and encourage them to help when they can, rather than treat them as delivery robots and lose them to burn-out.

  • Well said John Smith. My own introduction to activism wasn’t an invitation to a meeting; it was 300 leaflets dropped on my doorstep with only a terse note to accompany them. Not a recipe to inspire excitement. You also hit the nail on the head about the relevance of a blizzard of paper in a digital age.

    However, I predict you will shortly be toasted in the following comments about your lack of knowledge about how to win.

  • A delight to agree with John Smith and Terry’s Chocolate Orange Booker (surely TCOB ?) …… though the latter should have welcomed the opportunity to get some exercise.

    I’m puzzled about what the door knockers are going to say given the current vacuum.

  • David Becket 3rd Mar '20 - 6:11pm

    It is time the Lib Dems, and their president got into real world.

    Not only is John Smith right about tired campaign techniques that get us nowhere, has anybody in control woken up to fact that we have a virus on our hands.

    2000 will meet in York, and risk spreading infection. We then send an army out knocking on doors, some of whom have self isolated but without a plague cross on their doors.

    If we spread one case as a party we are dead in the water

    Somebody with common sense needs to take a grip on this party, and it will not come from either of the current joint leaders, who have failed us yet again.

    Another bright idea from the Campaigns team

  • Alan Muhammed Alan Muhammed 3rd Mar '20 - 6:28pm

    I perfectly understand how more effort doesn’t always equate to better results – but with voter identification data, you can use that to narrow down and target people based on what we do know about them.

    It is still a numbers game – getting out more people to vote for us than other parties. If we don’t do this, we hand our opponents the advantage.

    I agree that it is also about building up regular teams that spread the load over extended periods of time. I don’t think there’s any harm in coordinated national action days with campaign packs to complement this – and to help motivate people in areas that don’t have the resources to do this alone.

    With social media, I don’t see it as a substitute – you still need to make face to face contact, there is little time and effort that is needed on social media, so that should be done as well as, not instead of.

    I do agree that there is more to politics than dumping a pile of leaflets on someone – and that’s why the Party mentions as part of this action day, it’s not just about door knocking, it’s about holding events too. The Party is providing resource to help you advertise this.

  • Phil Beesley 3rd Mar '20 - 7:34pm

    TCO: “You also hit the nail on the head about the relevance of a blizzard of paper in a digital age.

    However, I predict you will shortly be toasted in the following comments about your lack of knowledge about how to win.”

    Toast for you too. Seriously, I would never give my email address to a door knocker or the lad selling me a shirt at the haberdashers. My email address is private.

    In the 21st century, my web availability is limited to people who I know. Amazon and Google have tracked me for years by my web history, perhaps knowing my thoughts and dirty secrets, or perhaps missing me by a mile.

  • This feels like an updated version of Nick’s ‘million door challenge’ – with a similar lack of actual purpose. This put it better than I can

    Door knocking is only an effective campaign technique if it is part of an effective message. The Hallam candidate was saying on twitter how she was one of the 25 ‘most doors knocked’ Lib Dems. Her vote – despite quite a big jump nationally – went down.

  • Richard Allanach 3rd Mar '20 - 10:20pm

    I don’t know whether the post or the comments are more depressing. Knocking on 100,000 doors and therefore speaking to 30,000 people is not ambitious if one is looking for “huge” gains. Knocking on doors, speaking to people and delivering a community newsletter are not the be-all and end-all of either community politics or indeed of winning local government elections – but in most times in most areas they wil be essential components of both. In my local area the knocking [on an unprecedented scale – for our part of the world] and the leafleting were necessary components of winning during the coalition years.

  • @David Raw “A delight to agree with John Smith and Terry’s Chocolate Orange Booker (surely TCOB ?) …… though the latter should have welcomed the opportunity to get some exercise.”

    It’s hyphenated (Orange-Booker).

  • Paul Holmes 4th Mar '20 - 10:51am

    It’s a simple fact that, as a long proven general rule, we don’t win elections without lots of literature and canvassing.

    That is not to say that the simple act of delivering literature is sufficient, the messaging has to be effective. The June -Dec 2019 deluge (on a massively unprececdented scale) of national, expensive, commercially delivered literature in our 80 Target Seats, is clear proof that a poor message/strategy is not sufficient. Incidentally we were also, during the Short campaign at least, spending more on Social Media advertising than ever before too. Indeed in the first half of the Short Campaign we were outspending Lab/Con -I haven’t seen the figures for the second half so I don’t know if that changed.

    If there is indeed an ‘easier’ more ‘modern’ way of Lib Dems winning elections then it would be really useful if regular contributors like Terry’s Chocolate Orange, could write an article sharing with us the successful elections they have run and/or stood in where they utilised these methods in place of the tried and tested ones.

  • @Paul Holmes “That is not to say that the simple act of delivering literature is sufficient, the messaging has to be effective. The June -Dec 2019 deluge (on a massively unprececdented scale) of national, expensive, commercially delivered literature in our 80 Target Seats, is clear proof that a poor message/strategy is not sufficient.”

    Do you have any evidence that tells you what “effective messaging” means in practice, of the leaflets pushed through doors what proportion are read, read by the target audience, and the message absorbed effectively?

    Do you have any evidence that supports your assertion that putting paper through letterboxes is the most effective way to get your targetted message across?

  • Paul Holmes 4th Mar '20 - 1:14pm

    Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Yes, all the successfull elections that are won that way every year plus all the research that the Campaign’s Department have done. I don’t know of a single example of Lib Dems winning an election via Social Media for example whereas, to give just one personal example, I ran 3 winning by election campaigns across 2016-2018 where we used no social media at all but canvassed and delivered heavily. We gained all 3 seats whereas Labour who did use Social Media lost all 3. We also employed no Social Media advertising in last years Borough elections but increased from 9 to 17 Cllrs taking 7 from Labour and one from UKIP.

    You will also find that of the 11 Parliamentary Seats we did manage to win in December every one of them campaigned extensively using literature and canvassing.

    Also -to offset those who say they ONLY read Social Media and not ‘dead trees’ – all 5 Adults in my immediate family use Ad blocking software so they rarely see any adverts on Social Media, political or otherwise.

    Over to you for your personal examples of elections won via the ‘new methods’. Which you resolutely fail to provide.

  • Spot on Paul Holmes. It is still the most successful way of winning elections. Now it is up to the Chocolate Orange to tell us his or her way.

  • @Paul Homles and @david.

    You got me guys; you know best.

    Carry on as you were, keep doing what you’ve always done. I hope you’re still around in 2535 when we win a majority.

  • “This is the point; there are examples of other parties, particularly the Conservatives out manoeuvring us in this area.”

    Hard to say who is the better at social media stuff. The Tories actually spent less than the Lib Dems so you can maybe say they are better – or its just not important. However the Tories had a very clear message – and one which resonated – in 2019.

  • Paul Holmes 4th Mar '20 - 10:57pm

    Terry’s Chocolate Orange -So still not one single factual example to back up your constant, entirely unsupported, assertions?

    Martin, which are the examples you refer to? I don’t know of any.

    In the 2017 GE Labour (mostly a Momentum initative) were noted for their viral social media and the Cons were criticised for their lacklustre content. Yet in 2019 exactly the reverse was the case. In both cases it was not that one used Digital campaigning and the other didn’t, it was the relative merits of the style and content that were noted. Equally, in both GE’s the Lib Dems also used a lot of Digital campaigning and like Con/Lab they used it alongside Literature and Canvassing not instead of.

    Even President Pack, who has made his career out of being a Digital campaign guru, always notes that it is one tool to supplement campaign techniques and is not a replacement for them.

  • The sun is out. Has the chocolate orange melted? Seriously… I am all for debate on the relative strengths of different campaigning methods but debate requires points and so far TCO you aint said any. Me thinks it is the armchair that speaks.

  • @Paul Holmes, @David. Two points:

    1) please go and look up the story of the Inductivist Turkey. Read it, Have a think. Then come back and look again at your beliefs that what always worked in the past will always work in the future.
    2) someone on another thread wrote something along the lines of “Paul Holmes carefully chose his words by saying that the Lib Dems never won using social media (but it’s clear that the Tories did/do)”. I wonder why that is?

  • I don’t think anyone is saying we should scrap leaflets altogether. The issue is one of quantity over quality. The attitude seems to be that pushing as many bits of paper through letterboxes will deliver victory. What actually matters is the content and quality of what’s on them.

    A great example of this was the ludicrous mailing from an ‘elections expert’ telling voters in seats where we lost our deposit in 2017 that it was a ‘two horse race’ with us in the lead. I’m sure this was seen as a success by the campaign team and ticked off as another bit of paper that reached voters. In reality, it made us look like fools.

  • Paul Holmes 5th Mar '20 - 6:56pm

    @Terry’s Chocolate Orange. No it wasn’t another thread it was on this one. And just 2 comments above this one I answered Martin. I have asked him to provide one single example of Lab/Con winning an election via Social Media -because I don’t know of any.

    Meanwhile you still constantly evade the key question and refuse to provide a single example, drawn from your own experience of running or winning elections or otehrwise, of such a campaign. Still, everything you say is based upon completely unsubstantiated assertion.

  • Paul Holmes 5th Mar '20 - 7:18pm

    @John Smith. But many do just that I am afraid. More or less every local party will have experience of the member (often, but not always, a new one with absolutely no experience of actually running or winning an election) who proclaims that leaflets are dead and social media is the way forward. Really! As if people with experience of fighting elections for years wouldn’t have spotted such an easy (though expensive) option by now.

    The search for the Holy Grail of winning elections easily is not an entirely new phenomenon by any means. Back in 1986 I recall an SDP colleague in Derbyshire who emphatically proclaimed at every meeting that “all that was needed to win an election was one really good leaflet.” Needless to say he never came remotely near actually winning an election however often he tried.

    Three or four years ago at a Federal Conference training session I remember a very articulate and motivated new member/Council candidate asking “Why can’t we just hold street stalls instead of doing all this time consuming leaflet delivery and door knocking?” To which the very obvious answer was because you won’t win that way.

    After Obama’s win in 2008 people really started to fixate on digital campaigning as the new Magic Bullet. But I read an analysis in response from one of Obama’s campaign team who pointed out the inconvenient fact that, “Yes, they had used more Social Media advertising than any previous Presidential candidate. But they had also raised and spent more money, paid for more TV adverts, knocked on more doors and put out more leaflets than any previous Presidential candidate.

    I do agree with you about the completely unrealistic messages put out (by literature and social media advertising) at great expense in many of our completely unrealistic Target Seats last year. Also, as Bloomberg has just discovered, spending vast sums of money on a poor message (however it is delivered) does not mean you will win. But the fact remains that, especially for a small Third/Fourth Party in a FPTP system, putting out your message in quantity as well as quality is essential.

  • Dilettante Eye 5th Mar '20 - 10:38pm

    “I don’t think anyone is saying we should scrap leaflets altogether. “

    You Lib Dems really do make heavy weather of this campaigning thing.
    If your door knocking and leaflet stuffing didn’t work in 2015, 2017 and 2019, why is the same tactic going to work if you simply shout the message louder, and print the leaflets in a bigger font, and wear out more shoe leather?

    Your vote share is consistently between 7% to 10% for a reason. It’s because 90% of voters don’t want what you are selling. Is it really so difficult to accept that preaching your liberal values is a complete turn-off.

    Voters know what they want. So why not stop your unconcealed derision of their needs and ask them?

    Several threads ago, Glenn gave you the answer to the holy grail of electoral success, which was frankly mind blowing in its simplicity.

    “Ultimately, you have to have policies that suit the people who have the vote.”

    That’s it. Political success is as simple as that.

    Of course, I realise that its not so simple for you as a Lib Dem party. I guess first you have to work out why you hate your fellow British citizens so much, and why you despise them, and their democratic right to vote in a different way to your niche liberal world view.

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