Opinion: High impact campaigning – volunteering with Team 2015

Team 2015 posterI’m looking forward to the election with a fair amount of optimism. My response to disappointing election results in May 2014 was to join Team 2015, which in August had just begun to mobilise Lib Dem volunteers in preparation for the General Election. At this point the Team membership’s infectious enthusiasm far outweighed its numbers. It has since grown to include volunteers from across the country, and this has shaped my belief that we have a chance to do better in the election than critics and pollsters are anticipating.

This might seem naively sanguine on my part. But we’re facing something of a paradox: while our national polling is lower than it has been for some time, we know that we can still win in our key seats. Each seat has its own ‘path to victory’ for the Election led by committed and experienced campaigners, and we now have the most advanced campaign technology of any party, which we’ve acquired since the last General Election and will assist us considerably in targeting voters.

Clearly, the more campaign power we can direct at strategic seats (those we’re most likely to retain or gain), the better our chances of a good result. And that’s where Team 2015 comes in.

Team 2015 volunteers are recruiting volunteers nationwide. These volunteers are making phone calls to voters in strategic seats, encouraging them to vote for the Lib Dem candidate and, on Election Day, reminding them to go and vote. The Virtual Phone Bank facility in Connect allows Team 2015 volunteers to make these calls wherever they are in the country. This means that national strategists will be able to direct the calls into those seats where assistance is most needed at any time. This is a marriage of national and local campaigning strengths: calls go to where they will have the greatest impact (often if not always into neighbouring strategic seats); but the calls made will always be informed by the individual ‘path to victory’ campaign of local strategists, who will supply the briefings for the Virtual Phone Bank.

As a volunteer I’ve found it an easy and enjoyable way to help make a difference, even though I don’t consider myself ‘a natural’ on the phone: when you make the calls you’re always using a script and asking specific questions, and you’re in the company of fellow volunteers with whom you can share advice and experience.

And for me what makes being part of this project particularly rewarding is the effectiveness of campaign-calling. I was amazed to learn of research into Lib Dem voter turnout that shows that contacting voters (by phone or in person) has a very positive effect. In Eastleigh, a voter we spoke to was 20% more likely to vote than one we had not spoken to, while in the 2013 local elections, voters who had been contacted by us were nearly twice as likely to vote.

We’re therefore trying to get as many people involved in Team 2015 as we can. If you’re a party member and haven’t yet received a phone call about this, then you very likely will do soon! It’s an opportunity for you to help out with a nationally coordinated strategy, even if you’re already active at a local level. You’ll never be asked to do one instead of the other – the Liberal Democrats strength is in our grass roots – but you will be given the opportunity to do one as well as the other, should you wish.

It’s a project that allows you to choose you own level of involvement. We know that not everyone is able to commit to a set number of hours per week, and that their participation might even be sporadic. On the other hand, there are opportunities for volunteers to take on roles of responsibility and to input their own ideas. In particular, we’re currently looking for people to host local volunteer meetings (either at home or in office space). This is a role that is not as onerous as it might sound but is crucially important to the development of Team 2015. To find out more about it register your interest here  where you can also sign up for campaign meetings already arranged in your area. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter if you want to keep track of what we’re doing and share it with others:

When I was phoned up and asked to become part of Team 2015, I said yes because I feared for the future of liberal values in today’s politics. While I still have this fear, it’s now coupled with a buoyancy from working with like-minded volunteers, and a belief that all is far from lost this May if we continue to team up to target our efforts effectively.

* Sarah Tindle has been a volunteer with Team 2015 since August 2014

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