Tag Archives: austin rathe

One Liberal Democrat man’s view of International Woman’s Day

Austin Rathe, formerly Head of Membership at LDHQ, posted this as his Facebook status on Tuesday, International Women’s Day. I thought it was worth reposting here, with his permission of course. .

So, guys, I’ve seen a couple of you post today asking why there isn’t an International Men’s Day*.

OK, I get it, it’s supposed to be about equality right? So why do we have something for women we don’t have for men?

I’ll explain why, but before we begin I’d like you to stop, look up from your desk (or other place of work) towards a female college. Don’t stare, but just imagine for a few moments that you’re not you, you’re that woman who you know, probably respect and hopefully care about.

Ok. So let’s go.

Now you’re a woman, your pay just got cut by 24%. Put that into pounds and pence and think how pissed off you are. You should be, it’s outrageous that because you just switched gender you’re getting paid less, but that’s what happens. And it adds up. Over your life as a woman you’re going to earn on average £300,000 less than you would have done as a man. Now we’re all proud of our penises, but I don’t think any of us would claim that it makes us 24% more productive at work. If yours does, please post tips in the comments.

Let’s head outside for a bit to calm down. Maybe a bit of shopping over lunch? Well, get ready for the double whammy, because not only do you have a lot less cash now, but you have to pay more for the same stuff. That’s right, on average the female versions of products (for example clothes) cost 7% more than the male ones. And of course, from now, your going to have to buy sanitary products once a month whether you like or not. And they’re a luxury, so you pay VAT on them as well. Lucky you.

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The EU consultation: all right as far as it goes…

Have you gone through the EU consultation sent out from Liberal Democrat HQ by Austin Rathe? I did, answering all the questions or clicking the right options just like a good Lib Dem should – I declared myself committed to staying in the EU, and chose all the suggested benefits of being in the EU: freedom of movement, greater prosperity, no war in Europe thanks to the EU, and so on.

Yet I found the whole exercise unsatisfactory and lacking in nuance. The consultation is full of leading questions. One can only answer as I did (with just a little scope for variation) because to do otherwise would be to take the stance of the Conservatives or UKIP – but this hardly offers a truly rounded assessment of the EU as it exists today.

I expressed my views as I did because, being a liberal, I do accept that the propositions in the consultation are more true than not true. That is why I expect to vote to stay in the EU regardless of what David Cameron manages to renegotiate. On balance, I think the EU is still a good thing and therefore I feel the UK should be in it, both as a matter of playing our part in the world and because it’s in our interest to be there. But do I think the EU is pretty much fine as it is? No I certainly do not – I think it badly needs a major overhaul.

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Lib Dem digital guru Rathe talks to Guardian about internet communications

The Guardian has taken an interest in the deluge of emails being sent out by the Labour Party recently. Our head of Members and Supporters Austin Rathe is quoted in the piece explaining the difference between Labour’s approach and ours.

Most of what is being done by both party’s has been poached from the Obama campaigns.  But while Labour have been more indiscriminate in their approach, the Liberal Democrats have sought to build relationships with people. All those emails with pictures of cute babies that the Labour Party use to harvest your email address are not well used. Over to Austin:

They knew nothing about you except that you’re an email address,” says Rathe. “And they just throw everything at you. It’s a sledgehammer approach – it’s watching what went on in the States and learning all the wrong lessons, just thinking that you just have to send a lot of email. But you’ve got to talk to people about things they’re interested in, it’s got to be driven by that.” Rathe’s party uses email more to focus on achievable local goals than the big national picture. “We build relationships with people on issues that they care about,” Rathe adds. “And we give local campaigners the tools to do it themselves.”

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There’s a manatee loose on the internet – and it will encourage voters towards the Liberal Democrats

I knew there was something weird going on with my Facebook feed. There are plenty Liberal Democrat related items in it all the time, but I’ve noticed adverts for things I’ve been interested in. I’ve also noticed that the UK Liberal Democrat website now seems to tell me lots of things about the very excellent Mike Crockart. I suspected technical wizardry of some description and wondered what was coming next given the way that Austin Rathe and his colleagues seem to be able to get into my head.

The secret is out now. It’s called Operation Manatee. A manatee, as Wikipedia will tell you,  is a quite peaceful looking sea cow type thing that, interestingly, has prehensile lips. The left and right sides of the upper lip can move independently of each other. This clearly is not any sort of parallel to the Liberal Democrats. Manatee is based on the Obama campaign’s similarly marine-named 2012 Project Narwhal.  This enabled Obama’s campaign to send very specifically targeted emails on controversial subjects to those voters who would be sympathetic.

Manatee works in a similar way, using Facebook and YouTube. This video gives more details.

Over 2 million social media adverts to be placed in the final phase of the campaign, right up till close of poll on Thursday night.

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Two ways to support Austin Rathe’s Marathon Effort

As I write, my friend and LDHQ Members and Supporters Manager Austin Rathe is heading off on a 26 mile run around London. It sounds so easy to write it like that, but it will be about 4.5 hours of real pain. As I said when I first wrote about his plan to run the marathon, we must be working him too hard if he thinks that a 26 mile run is something to do for a rest.

Let’s just remind ourselves why he’s doing it – for a very worthy cause:

Austin will be running to raise funds for Special Effect, a small charity which helps people with disabilities to enjoy playing video games. You can see some of the good work that they do in this video.

So, if you are suitably impressed by Austin’s effort, there are two things you can do to help him.

First and most importantly, sponsor him to raise money for Special Effect. He’s not far away from £1000. If everyone reading this could maybe give the price of even a coffee, that would make a big difference. I know we are all supposed to be giving all our money to the party at the moment, but we all still have enough left over for that cake to take to campaign HQ or the coffee to have afterwards. So if you could give up today’s snacking money for Austin, that would be brilliant.

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The Times: Lib Dem digital operations “closest to Team Obama”

The way the parties approach digital campaigning is examined in today’s Times (£), which is very complimentary about the Liberal Demcorats’ operation, saying that it is closest to the gold standard in this area, the Obama campaign.

Thanks to their strong ground intelligence, the Liberal Democrats have been able to come closest to the “micro-targeting” of individual voters pioneered by Team Obama. Yet data protection issues and lack of money present stumbling blocks for British parties as they try to match his campaign’s success.

Soon-to-be Marathon Man Austin Rathe is quoted:

Closest to the Obama model are the Lib Dems, who have a wealth of data gleaned from a long focus on door-knocking and detailed canvassing. In 2011, the party decided to shell out a “seven-figure sum” on Connect, a voter database used by the Obama campaign. It then paid a data company to identify the Facebook profiles of as many voters as possible. Rather than asking the site to target a broad range of people, the Lib Dems can provide lists of individuals to be targeted with a particular message.

On the day of the autumn statement, the party paid to push a story about a road expansion in front of 11,000 target voters in Berwick. “We will never put out a blanket email or Facebook post,” says Austin Rathe, a Lib Dem staffer. “We will make sure you see something you care about, whether it’s on the environment or climate change.”

What? You mean there are things I don’t see? Definitely in the huff now.

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Liberal Democrats raise half a million pounds from members and supporters

The Liberal Democrats are quietly breaking all sorts of records at the moment. Membership is increasing, a million doors have been knocked on this year and yesterday, we passed a significant milestone – £500,000 has been raised from members and supporters, a record for this stage of any election campaign.

As we reported the other day, there’s a match funding offer on at the moment with a target of raising £300,000 by the end of today to support the election campaigns of our key candidates across the country. The party hopes to raise £600,000 in total simply from online donations. If you want to help out with this, you can donate here.

The new member and supporter database has been a very effective tool in turning this method of donation from one of the smallest to one of the biggest income streams by helping the team ask for the right amount at the right times. They seem to know what pushes my buttons, for sure. One picture of Tony Blair and I’m reaching for my credit card. I’m waiting for the email that reads:

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As if Austin Rathe didn’t have enough to do…

Austin RatheAustin Rathe is, as many of you will know, the Head of Member and Supporter Development at Lib Dem HQ. He has presided over an increase in membership over the last couple of years and is the architect of the incentive scheme which makes it worth local parties’ while putting lots of effort into recruiting members.

He is someone who works almost every hour imaginable and is often to be seen responding to queries raised by members not just through the usual channels but on social media, too.

He’s a very busy person and you can’t really imagine him sitting still for more than 5 seconds. I did wonder, though, when I saw that he was planning to run the London Marathon this April whether we were working him hard enough. Or, alternatively, whether we were working him too hard if he thought that running 26 miles was something he’d do for a rest.

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Austin Rathe talks to the Standard about the importance of political geekery

imageThe appointment of Obama’s strategist David Axelrod to advise the Labour Party has prompted the Standard to take a look at the digital operations of the three main parties. All three are looking to the success of the Obama campaign’s collection and use of data.

We know that the most effective digital campaigners are those who spend most of their time on the doorsteps. Jo Swinson was a Twitter pioneer, as was Willie Rennie and we know how much time Tim Farron spends on there. These three share a massive commitment and …

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A Liberal Democrat membership revolution

We know that the Liberal Democrats, in common with other parties, have  been looking at declining membership figures for some years now. Tim Farron alluded to this in his conference speech at the weekend.

Three times as many people entered the X Factor this year than joined a political party.

In the Liberal Democrats it has been a tough three years. People have not felt confident about recruiting members because of the wider political environment. Also, many local parties feel that there is no incentive to put time and effort into recruitment when there is little or no reward for them. …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

Liberal Democrats confirm new central campaigns teams

A further announcement as part of the reorganisation of the Liberal Democrats’ central campaigns staff.

From HQ Chief of Staff, Tim Snowball:

I am very pleased to announce that as of 17 June 2011 the full make up of the new central Campaigns Teams, working under Director of Elections and Skills, Hilary Stephenson, will be as follows:

Campaign Development Team

Key Objectives: to research, test and deliver cutting edge campaign techniques and to maximise uptake through a well planned and coordinated training and support system.

  • Jake Holland (Head of Unit)
  • Austin Rathe
  • Tim Pollard

Ground Communications Team

Key Objectives: to develop effective messages, visualisation and artwork for

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