Positive campaigning – best way to win the election?

I have spent exactly 24 hours door-knocking since the elections in 2022. I still absolutely love it and if I could, I would do it for a living! As I am standing again this year (one of my fellow councillors had to stand last year on health grounds), my campaign has intensified in recent weeks. The mood on the door-step has changed. Last year, some of the national and international topics dominated some of my conversations; war in Ukraine, end of the pandemic or a wide range of post-COVID government scandals.

I am pleased that this year, as candidates and councillors we have been campaigning on issues that we can actually influence; Local Plan, the state of our Town Centres, investment, infrastructure, potholes or transport provision.

The “toxicity” of campaigning has not gone away though. Has it got worse? It is hard to tell. I was “accused” by one of the other candidates of not living in my ward (I live 15 minutes walking distance from it). In many cases the literature of our opponents is quite repetitive and instead of suggesting new solutions, which could help to improve the effectiveness and functionality of the Council, it frequently “offers” scare-mongering and too often(?) a wide range of negative stories.

My approach to my own style of campaigning has not changed. I really didn’t have to mention my political opponents too many times while canvassing. I tried to concentrate on my observations and ideas in relation to some of the topics, which have dominated my conversations. I also tried to remain genuine and authentic, without “scoring” additional points by blaming or seeking faults of others. Yes, of course, we must ensure that we challenge some of the decisions of the administration in charge, however it is important to strike the right balance and where possible, remain positive and politically diplomatic. I’ve had countless exchanges with residents, who said that they are fed up with “ping-pong politics”.

In my view, one of the most important elements of successful door-knocking is simply being yourself. I try to smile, joke, when appropriate, connect and engage with people. It is never a “tick-box” exercise. I genuinely value each conversation and appreciate each unique individual that I meet. The flow of the conversation varies; sometimes it might be about some trivial things; latest trip abroad, plans for holidays. In my view, it is so important to “read the room”. The integral part of any conversation has to be our ability to communicate and “being one” with the person we encounter.

Yes, I always ask whether the resident will support me or a Lib Dem candidate, if I door-knock in other areas across Welwyn Hatfield. To remain true to myself, I always encourage each person to exercise their right to vote, even if it means that they will be supporting someone else. Equally, I emphasise the importance of being part of the civic process and not taking democracy for granted. Having said all of that, nothing can also underestimate the value of working all year round, which we did across our district very well last year, and not only a month or so before the vote takes place.

Will my “election strategy” work? We shall see, the Local Elections 2023 are less than two weeks away!

* Michal Siewniak is a Lib Dem activist and councillor for Handside ward, Welwyn Hatfield.

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner.

One Comment

  • Jason Connor 25th Apr '23 - 4:18pm

    I reckon you’ve got is spot on. I like the fact that you jettison negativity and just concentrate on campaigning on the main local issues, listening and how you can make people’s lives better as a Councillor. I really hope get back in with an increased majority.

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