Party Awards: Gregan Crawford, the Data Dynamo

One of the highlights of Party Conference is the annual presentation to those people who have gone above and beyond. The Harriet Smith Award was established to recognise those who had never held elected office. This year, it was won by Edinburgh’s Gregan Crawford. Watch the whole party awards session here and read the submission in support of Gregan under the cut.

Gregan Crawford has played an enormous role in the success of the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ election campaigns over the last 15 years. It is not an exaggeration to say that he has had a hand in the election of most of our MPs, MSPs and Edinburgh Councillors.

Here are just a few examples of the time and skills he gives the party:

He is a data dynamo, pulling together the most complex mailmerges for almost every held and target seat in Scotland.

He stands for hours at the riso and stuffing machine, dealing with their breakdowns with enormous patience.

He keeps all of Edinburgh’s electoral registers in check and co-ordinates the massive task of getting marked registers in after every election

During the Shetland by-election, he stuffed and organised tens of thousands of letters.

He has created the most amazing walk maps for many local parties. They are so clear to follow, with postcodes, red dots and addresses which show where to start delivering addressed items. You even get warned about problem dogs.

His well organised, householder blue letter lists are a joy to work with.

Whenever he is needed, he basically puts his life on hold and works his magic on the data and machinery.

And he does all of this with the most amazing generosity of spirit, good humour and kindness.

His gold standard work and dedication deserves to be recognised with the Harriet Smith Award.

Here’s what parliamentarians, councillors and activists say about Gregan:

Alistair Carmichael MP

“I can’t remember when I first met Gregan but I am pretty sure it was at a by-election. It may have been a parliamentary by-election or a council one. It may have been a token effort in flying the flag or it may have been the full three ring circus. Whatever and wherever it was Gregan was there – quietly getting on and doing what needed to be done – because that is what Gregan does. It may be driving teams or canvassers or leafleters to where they need to be, running a board or operating the Riso – whatever needs to be done, he does. I wish we could clone him.

Reading this I am conscious that I may have made Gregan sound like someone who is only interested in politics. In fact, the opposite is true. Spending time in company with him always provides you with an interesting conversation and an insight into the matters of the day.

The party needs more Gregans. Until we get them we should recognise the efforts and commitment of the ones we have.”

Christine Jardine MP

“There isn’t a vote we have won in Edinburgh that isn’t down to Gregan in some way. He provides the teams with the perfect tools and always with grace and kindness. And that’s the thing. As well as everything he does Gregan is one of the kindest most sincere people I have ever come across. We are all richer for being able to say we know him.”

Wendy Chamberlain MP:

“Gregan’s walk maps are things of beauty. His support of the campaign to win back North East Fife by reconfiguring every delivery route to make them as straightforward as possible was simply incredible. Start and finish locations close by, suggestions of adjacent routes, and even potential coffee stops all featured! This attention to detail was commented on by both NEF’s existing delivery network and those who came to support our action days. With only 2 votes in it, Gregan helped us get over the line!”

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

“Were it not for Gregan, I would not be in the Scottish Parliament right now. His command of data, delivery walks and mail merges allowed us to build an election machine unlike every other. If only we could clone him! Every local party needs a Gregan.”

Linda Wilson, former Scottish Party Manager

“Gregan Crawford deserves an award just for the number of leaflets he has printed and envelopes he has stuffed, let alone all the work he has done at local party level! I got to know Gregan while working at Scottish Party HQ. He is a fixture at Clifton Terrace during election campaigns and whenever Focuses are needed. He spends hours every day chained to the Riso printing hundreds of thousands of leaflets. He then bundles them together oh so neatly – his elastic bands are never twisted. Those of us delivering in Edinburgh can always spot a ‘Gregan bundle’.

The envelope stuffing machine AKA The Beast is a temperamental creature at best but Gregan is the Beast Whisperer. He uses his engineering skills to keep the envelope stuffing machine running (when the rest of us have given up) and even orders his own parts for the stuffing machine to keep it working when we need it most.

He is the best kind of volunteer – willing to devote his life to the cause when required, self-sufficient and low maintenance (he even brings his own coffee.) As Party Manager I also valued Gregan’s input to the Finance Committee which he sat on for many years.

Gregan’s many years of service to the party at all levels deserve to be recognised.”

Caron Lindsay

I am in awe of Gregan’s patience, wisdom and dedication. When he is needed, he is in HQ round the clock churning out mailings and organising them meticulously. His attention to detail is incredible. And when he gets a break away from the riso, he’ll turn up and ask for bundles to deliver.

His delivery maps are the best and most understandable I have ever seen.

When I was Scottish Treasurer during the lean years from 2012-17, I relied heavily on his knowledge and experience as a member of Finance and Membership Committee. He always helped craft budgets that made the best possible use of our resources.

Cllr Kevin Lang

“Gregan’s contribution to the Scottish party, but particularly across the City of Edinburgh, is immense.  He is the digital and data glue that holds our campaigns together.  Our marked registers, our delivery rounds and maps, our Connect lists, all of it happens because of the time and expertise he so generously provides.  And for the stressed our campaign manager or agent, he is always there with a listening ear and with his calm and sensible advice.  What a treasure he is.”

Elaine Ford, Convener North, East Edinburgh and Leith Liberal Democrats

“Gregan is one of those party ‘superstars’ whose contribution, which is not always visible but crucial to the smooth running of any campaign. His meticulous attention to assembling easy to read data for blue letter writing, mapping out run sheets for leaflets is invaluable! Every party needs a Gregan and we are so very lucky to have him.”

Hannah Bettsworth, activist

“With my dyspraxia the maps are absolutely life-saving because I find it difficult to orient myself to where I am on the map. His instructions show me exactly what numbers to do in what order and there’s even a little pathway marked out on them with arrows on so I know I’m going in the right direction. Working in Edinburgh West is way more accessible and far less confusing than any other area I’ve done.”

Paul Moat (Head of Campaigns for Scotland)

Gregan is the volunteer every organiser, agent or campaign manager want on their team. I know that if I have an emergency, need someone to take on a complicated task, or just need someone to check I’ve done something right, Gregan is always on hand to help. He has gotten me out of many sticky situations and will give up his time at a moment’s notice – even to the point where he takes his laptop on holiday, just in case I need him to run a complex mailmerge while sitting by the pool!

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