Tag Archives: campaigning

It can only get nastier until the election

It’s not surprising that polls suggest that many young people in the UK now despair about democratic politics. The partisan Westminster debate has become more and more negative. Prime Minister’s Questions have been getting worse week by week, throwing insults across the floor.  The Conservative Party has run out of positive themes to appeal to the public, and is falling back on attempts to discredit all of its opponents.  The right-wing media are in full hysterical mode, while conspiracy theories, culture wars and ideas about ‘Christian nationalism’ flow from across the Atlantic along with American finance to support Tory factions and think tanks.  And the Labour leadership is sufficiently intimidated by the right-wing media that it is responding cautiously and nervously – as are we.

I am as frustrated as other party members by the apparent timidity of both Labour and our own party leadership in the face of this right-wing onslaught.  But I’m also painfully aware of the ruthlessness and effectiveness of media monstering, and the closeness of the alliance between Conservative HQ and the right-wing media.  As soon as the Post Office scandal hit the headlines, CCHQ set out to pin the responsibility on others.  The Mail responded by going for Ed Davey, supported (of course) by the Telegraph and GB News – with the Standard giving him a frontpage monstering a few days later.  If he’d apologised immediately that would have fed the attacks and maintained the front-page coverage.  There’s nothing fair about tabloid press campaigns.

Conservative researchers have combed through cases Keir Starmer had any involvement with as Director of Public Prosecutions, hoping to find some dirt to throw – so far without much success.  So their press attack dogs are doing their best with Angela Rayner’s council house sale.   The Mail has given this front-page treatment several times in the past fortnight.  It’s an indication of what the Conservatives get away with that the allegations on Rayner taking advantage of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘right-to-buy’ on her council house came from Lord Ashcroft, who has avoided paying infinitely larger sums in tax through offshore havens like Belize.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 51 Comments

What I wish I’d known when I started out in the Lib Dems

Bright eyed, bushy tailed and knowing almost nothing in 2017, being handed the keys to run a Local Party’s finances was a bewildering and exciting moment. I’m sure there are thousands of people who have had similar feelings.

There was always a mountain of things that needed to be done, matched by an enthusiasm to get going. As I moved through other roles, and went through elections, I picked up skills as I tried to work out what I should be doing and the best ways of doing it. While there were hugely experienced people around willing to teach what they knew, I realised quickly that there was no complete manual or guide. As people came and went from local politics, so too did the institutional knowledge they had nurtured.

So, I decided used my time in lockdown productively reading up, interviewing and collating best practice from different people who had done different roles across the country.

While there may have been quirks to Local Parties there were also many common problems and bright ideas. For me the big lessons from the process of writing Winning Here Winning There were:

  1. Keeping a group of volunteers organised and motivated is no easy task
  2. You can quickly get distracted and consumed by immediate issues
  3. You need a long-term multi-election strategy to win
  4. Working hard will not guarantee success, you also need to work smart
  5. Local Party know-how is easily lost when people leave/retire
  6. Coming up with reasons to logically vote Lib Dem is easy, creating an emotional argument is much more difficult
  7. There’s so much more to being in a political party than delivering leaflets
  8. Get a head start by learning the lessons of the past rather than replicating their mistakes

Having been a Local Party Chair, Treasurer, Agent, regional executive member, and campaigner in London, as well as helper at by-elections, I have witnessed the enthusiasm of campaigners keen for success, as well as the disappointment of wasted effort reinventing the wheel.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

How do we stop the war in Ukraine?

Last February I had an idea, which was to try to beat Vladimir Putin’s censorship machine. 

Early in the invasion of Ukraine, it became clear that Vladimir Putin is very scared that the Russian people will find out the truth about the war. So he’s censored for news very heavily. 

As well as arresting protestors, he brought in website censorship. So if you go to a news website in Russia, you would find that your internet service provider blocks it. 

I’ve fought dictatorships my whole life, from being a teenage Amnesty member, to getting arrested by Zimbabwean police and helping English students in China to evade the great firewall. And I’ve spent the last 15 years working with charity campaigners and marketers to find new ways to get messages through to people.

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“Poverty of trust”

A very good friend of mine from Croatia (thank you, Hrvoje!) has recently invited me to an international online meeting, attended by 40 + different business leaders from around the world. The main theme for the session was the importance of building and strengthening the trust. The meeting, and in particular some of the expressions used, was quite revealing.

Whilst going through the process of being approved as a candidate in the next local elections, I had an opportunity to spend one Saturday morning with some of my colleagues, who are very experienced campaigners.

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Ed leads Lib Dems back onto the streets

As stated on the Lib Dem website, yesterday was a major milestone for leaflet delivery and canvassing in England:

Delivery of leaflets by members and volunteers
Applicability: England from 8th March, Scotland from 15th March, Wales tbc

Volunteer delivery is permitted and has been risk-assessed. Volunteer delivery should be organised in line with the agreed party protocols, which can be found here on the Campaign Hub (Sign up here for access to the Hub).

Posted in LDV campaigns | 2 Comments

Government permits delivery and canvassing in England from 8th March

Mike Tuffrey campaigning in PutneyWith the biggest set of local and national elections across the UK coming up on 6th May, the UK Government has finally issued guidance which will enable activists in England to deliver leaflets and canvass, subject to some restrictions, from a week on Monday, 8th March.

From 8 March, therefore, people who are campaigning in support of the electoral success (or against the electoral success) of candidates or political parties, or relating to a referendum outcome, will be allowed to deliver leaflets and canvass electors in relation to the elections and local referendums taking place on 6 May and for any further by-elections and local referendums being held for as long as COVID-19 related restrictions remain in place. The number of campaigners operating together should be kept to an absolute minimum and a minimum 2 metres distance should be maintained between them at all times.

Campaigners should not enter a private home. Campaigners may speak to electors on their doorsteps, maintaining at least 2 metres distance at all times.

Campaigners should only enter premises, such as a shared hallway in a block of flats, where absolutely necessary to reach individual homes served by communal areas. Unless it is unsafe to do so, canvassing from within shared internal areas should be carried out by a single campaigner.

At all times, campaigners should ensure that all necessary mitigations are applied including the wearing of face coverings, keeping socially distanced at 2 metres, and sanitising hands between visiting different households. All campaigners should follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times.

You should not meet with other campaigners indoors. It is safer to meet outdoors, where the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 is much lower, but 2 metre social distancing should still be maintained. Operational collection and delivery of campaign literature should be handled on a click and drop or doorstep drop procedure as for other goods deliveries during the pandemic. Only rarely will two people be required indoors at the same location to manage bulk delivery handling. You should keep these interactions to a minimum to reduce contact and follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times.

All hustings, and campaign planning meetings must take place remotely.

As Lib Dem campaigners, we are bound by the party’s guidance. We would be very surprised if it was not updated accordingly within the next few days.

There are more changes from 29th March:

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Scotland beat Wales in thrilling Maraphone clash

As I write, Scotland are playing Wales in the Six Nations at Murrayfield. As I write, Scotland are ahead by 17-3. I don’t know much about rugby but this seems unusual to me. Let’s hope we can hold on to that lead for however long a rugby match lasts.

However, an earlier clash between the two countries brought an assured victory for the Scots. The Welsh and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have spent the day tussling on the phone lines before kick off in a battle to see who could make the most phone calls to voters.

It’s all been great fun. Both leaders pumped up the rivalry, visiting each others’ phone banks Willie Rennie announced to the Zoom Room that the Welsh dragon behind him reminded him of me. I’ve never been so proud.

Jane Dodds almost got away with starting to sing a 14 verse traditional Welsh song to distract us from our work.

And Ed Davey showed up too! For an equal amount of time to both teams so as not to show any favouritism. He seemed to enjoy himself.

There really has never been a better time to make phone calls for the party. People seem genuinely happy to hear from us and are happy to share their concerns. We’ve noticed this both where we have elected representatives and where we haven’t.

Canvassing in a Zoom room is great because it spurs you on to do more, you can have a bit of a laugh with it. If you’re at home sitting there with Connect open, you can feel very alone. It is nice to have others to share your canvassing anecdotes with.

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Insights from the 2020 US Elections: Webinar Report

In a highly attended and engaging Paddy Ashdown Forum / Liberal Democrats Overseas webinar, on Monday, January 18th, 150 participants heard presentations and discussed insights and lessons for Lib Dem campaigning from the 2020 US elections.

You can watch the video of the webinar HERE

After opening remarks from Nasreen Davidson, Vice-Chair, Liberal Democrats Overseas, and Robert Woodthorpe Browne MBE, Chair, The Paddy Ashdown Forum, John Surie shared insights from the recent study conducted by the LDO North American Branch.

John’s presentation focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital strategies and tactics by the Biden For President

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With 100 days until polling day, ALDC are here to support your campaign

Embed from Getty Images

Many councillors and campaigners will be familiar with ALDC’s Local Election Appeal, which supports Liberal Democrat candidates in seats we’re aiming to gain from the other parties.

It’s vital that our party makes gains in the major series of local and national elections scheduled for Thursday 6 May. Here at ALDC, we’re aiming to raise £40,000 for the 2021 Local Election Appeal – 100% of this fund will be spent on additional direct mail to key groups of voters in our battleground wards, especially postal voters.

We need to raise this money so that we can help 200 Lib Dem candidates over the line in our target wards/divisions. Can you make a donation today to help us reach our target?

At the last local elections in 2019, 75% of the candidates who received funding from ALDC were from groups underrepresented in local government – women, BAME, LGBT+, young people (under 26) and people with disabilities. ALDC are committed to making our councillors more representative of the communities we represent and we will be supporting a similar proportion in 2021.

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Are you joining the Maraphone this Saturday?

This Saturday sees the first National Action Day of the year. Under normal circumstances, we’d be out delivering tonnes of leaflets and knocking on doors, talking to voters.

We can’t do that at the moment, so the plan is that we phone as many voters as possible.

There are events taking place all over the country.

During the leadership election, both campaigns worked out that if you get a bunch of people together in a Zoom room, have a bit of a chat, and a briefing session, put ourselves on mute, sign into Connect …

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Thinking about both sides of the letterbox

I was born in the same year as Donald Trump and Dolly Parton. No problems deciding which is one of my favourite Americans! Actually I was born on exactly the same day as the late Freddie Mercury (infinitely more Dolly than Donald). Do the sums and you will realise that I was surprised to find myself an endangered species – sorry, vulnerable category, when the virus came knocking on too many doors.

My colleagues were quite firm as to what I should and should not do. I consider myself pretty fit for my years, which is mainly due to delivering a few thousand Focus leaflets, or some other pieces of paper, every time we go to press. My legs do not take kindly to an absence of walking the streets but by temperament I am not into exercise for its own sake.

So after a few weeks of little more than telephoning constituents to see how they were faring, online casework and zoom meetings, I was very happy to join in our Ward Audit programme. I went out most days, without speaking to a soul, but peering down gullies, taking pictures of fly-tipping and noting faded road markings.

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Getting back onto the doorstep, getting back on the campaign trail…

I wanted to let you know about my experience door knocking over the last couple of weeks. Over the last fortnight, I’ve spent two evenings a week knocking on doors in Portsmouth, where I’m the Lib Dem Leader of the Council.

The feedback from voters here in Portsmouth has been brilliant, they were very pleased to see us.

I’ve been out in small groups, each of us in masks, keeping 2 meters from anyone. If people weren’t in, we posted leaflets through letterboxes to let them know we’d been.

It was great to be back talking to residents, as …

Posted in Campaign Corner | 34 Comments

Winning the working class

Back in 2015, I wrote an article entitled ‘We Need More Blue Collar Liberals’ which generated a decent amount of comments and responses from some of the MPs I contacted notably Alistair Carmichael. However, nearly five years on my one-person campaign has seen no real progress. The party nationally appears to have stopped talking about people from lower socio-economic backgrounds when it talks about diversity. There is quite rightly plenty of talk about inclusion particularly in relation to the BAME community, the recent Thornhill report makes much of this but in an election review where Labour’s famed Red Wall collapsed not to us but the Tories the working class don’t get a mention. In many ways, mistakes that were made 100 years ago are being repeated as Liberals appear to fail to understand that success in progressive politics means reaching out to the majority of voters who academics classify these days in letters and numbers.

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10 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics
  • Lib Dems: GDP figures show economy is grinding to a halt under the Tories
  • Lib Dem launch poster urging Remainers to stop Boris Johnson
  • Lib Dems: Boris Johnson is lying on a bulldozer instead of in front of one
  • Lib Dems: Johnson attack on international aid will destroy our global credibility

Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics

The Liberal Democrats have today branded the Tories pledge to double the budget of the ‘health tourism enforcement unit’ as dog-whistle politics.

The Conservative manifesto states that …

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Something which might be an essential investment for the winter campaigning!

Thanks very much to Jane Reed from York Liberal Democrats, who has emailed us about “touchscreen gloves”.

These are gloves which keep your hands warm but allow you to input data into your mobile phone or tablet.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 1 Comment

We must put the case for Remain and do it repeatedly in the public domain

I sent our local newspaper a letter giving ten points for Remain; they published it on 1st October with the heading “Ten reasons for us to have a new vote”. That is because I prefaced it by saying “Let me express my joy should there be a public vote to remain.” My reasons were affected by my responding to Brexiteers’ previous letters expressing joy at leaving. I am showing this here because I think we need to be saying much more of this. So many people are unfortunately no longer interested in what goes on in Parliament but their reaction …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Let’s get our messaging right on Revoke…

Sadly work commitments meant that I could only spend the weekend in Bournemouth this year, but it was well worth the travel (even the post-Disco train journey home). I was impressed by our new MPs and struck by the time they were spending with members as they build connections within their new political home.

I did manage to stay for the Europe debate and although I am happy with the final result, I did think that the opponents to ‘Revoke’ did win the debate in the hall, if not the vote. Niall Hodson (rising star) and Simon Hughes (established hero) were especially memorable and raised clear and credible concerns regarding this sudden shift in policy position. Sadly I do not think their comments were properly addressed during the debate and this left real concerns with some groups within our party; especially I suspect those from the social democrat legacy who rightly raise concerns over how such a divisive position may damage to our communities. It also does not help equip our activists with the messages needed to combat the inevitable attacks we now face from Labour and the Tories.

At the same time, I have been canvassing over the past two weeks, including tonight, and I am personally very comfortable in being able to defend this General Election position with voters on the doorstep. My own conversations currently focus on the two main lines of attack we currently face.

From Labour, we are now seeing accusations that we are overruling the will of the people as unthinking extremists no more tolerant than Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. Notably they are going to some lengths to misrepresent our position missing out some rather key information. It is therefore very important that we note:

  • As a party we are still prioritising delivering a People’s Vote ahead of a General Election.
  • However, due to Labour’s failure to support a People’s Vote over the past three years, it does now look most likely that we will have a General Election.
  • Therefore, in that scenario we are going put Remain on the ballot paper by recognising a MAJORITY Lib Dem government as a mandate for revoking Article 50 (and stopping this unbearable madness as quickly as possible).
  • Labour MPs in remain areas (including my own) are talking about revoking Article 50 but only to select groups in the now standard approach from their party in which they will say whatever they think the people you want to hear (our MP has also argued for a Norway model and supported Labour’s Brexit plan in the indicative votes earlier this year).
  • We are therefore being honest and clear; setting ourselves up in a strong position to support Remain in a referendum whilst giving the electorate a choice and a chance to Stop Brexit now.

From the Anarchist Party (formerly known as the Conservatives), there are similar attacks on “defying the will of the people”, but with more focus on this being somehow undemocratic. My response in these conversations are:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 52 Comments

Being a PPC with a Snap GE looming….

Needless to say, I have been busy lately! As have been PPCs and candidate selection teams up and down the country with the threat of looming General Election. Exciting times!

This uncertainty plays havoc with our mental health. We all have mental health, as we all have physical health. Not knowing whether one’s life is going to be put on hold in a few hours time for the next six weeks can be extraordinarily stressful.

At our local exec last night our team well-being was raised by a wise and concerned seasoned campaigner. He wanted us to first of all recognise the dangers of a 24/7 campaign and the huge pressure it puts everyone under; and secondly have a way of supporting our activists.

I have been at a lot of training sessions over the years since approved as a PPC in 2014. I can not remember any ALDC or party training in protecting and preserving the health and well-being of our campaigners and activists. There are usually lots of jokes about the junk food we all consume and the weight we gain due to poor hours, lack of sleep and not looking after ourselves – a feeling that our bodies might take a bashing during the campaign but its all worth it in the sacrifice for the Greater Good, i.e. winning.

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ALDC Advice: Building your campaign team

Summer provides the perfect time to piece together your campaign team in advance of your next set of elections.

In a single ward election, your team doesn’t need to be huge to win. Just sharing the load between a few committed people will make victory achievable and the process a lot more fun.

You’ll want to engage as many people as possible for your team of volunteers. But this is not the case with your core team which should be kept small. Larger teams mean big meetings which will slow you down; campaigns require speed and decisiveness. The team should be able to meet regularly and make decisions quickly and effectively. Try to choose people who will work hard and lead by example.

If you’re aiming to fight multiple areas on the same day, it will often be useful to have the same core team in place for all the areas. The team will then be able to make decisions about the whole area without duplication.

The basic core team should include:

  • Candidate
  • Campaign manager/agent (or both if these are not the same person)
  • Literature manager
  • Data manager
  • Media manager

 

Leadership: job roles for the core team

The core team will plan the campaign. It is never too early to start this process and you can do it without a candidate if necessary. The team will then lead the campaign, taking responsibility for the strategy and its implementation. Each member of the core team has their own individual responsibilities too:

Candidate: The figurehead, who will through necessity, provide leadership to the wider team, particularly with canvassing and fundraising. It is vital that the rest of the core team respect the candidate’s views. It is different when it’s your name on the leaflets! But it is also important that the candidate shares control and the overall planning with the core team. After all it is teams not individuals that win elections.

Campaign manager/agent: These are two jobs, but they can easily be combined. The campaign manager is the overall campaign organiser. They will provide internal leadership and bring the team together, making sure that every other role is being filled successfully. The agent’s role is a complex and responsible one. All agents should read both the Agent’s Manual and the Basic Election Law book to get a full grasp of the role. Needless to say the final legal buck for everything stops with the agent, so all major decisions must involve them.

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Why summer surveying should be your next campaigning activity

Now that May’s two sets of elections are successfully out of the way, it’s time to move our campaigning activity onto summer surveys.

Why survey?

Surveys are a fantastic way to generate voter ID, campaign issues and contact with local communities. If they’re used properly, they will establish you and your local Lib Dem team as hard-working, locally focused and approachable. And with proper follow up they can drive your campaign and messages.

The more you know about your residents, the better you can be as a community campaigner/councillor. There’s a lot of useful information you can gain from surveys and record in Connect for future voter contact, e.g. writing target mail.

Five reasons to survey now:

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When it comes to mental health, all’s fair in love and leafleting

We all feel it. Brexit is a battleground. It’s muddy trenches that stink to high heaven whichever side of it you’re on, and like sticky quicksand it’s near impossible to escape.

What’s more, the confrontational atmosphere is contributing to a mental health crisis in our political system, one that needs addressing fast.

For someone used to running fast-paced action days and writing punchy election literature, sometimes it can be hard not to view politics like a war. Elections become a battle of attrition. Your opponent is your enemy. Your leaflets are your ammunition. Your voters are a vital resource you must …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

The past can be useful

My wife, Ruth, has had a collection of boxes, originally some 30 strong, in which she stored both personal and political stuff, waiting for the opportune moment to open them and sort out the treasure trove within.

That job is now underway and there are minutes of both NLYL and ULS as well as a huge collection of newsletters produced by all manner of Liberal activists in the late sixties and seventies. Radical Bulletin, Gunfire, New Outlook, Liberator and a whole raft of local stuff from Young Liberal and Liberal Student groups from Scotland to Cornwall. It even included some copies of Clockwork Orange, a Manchester ULS publication that I started in 1971/2 and that was then carried on by Pat Coleman.

Political discourse in the 60s and 70s was carried out by meeting and pamphlet.

Ruth reminded me that Young Liberal branches often met weekly to discuss politics and campaigns, actually campaigned most weekends and met up socially as well.

There were frequent conferences on political issues and both the Young Liberals and the Liberal Party had council meetings on a regular basis (the ‘Council’ was the policymaking body between Conferences), primarily on political issues.

Liberal Party Constituency and branch meetings were at least monthly. In short, our politics centred on meeting together, talking about ideas and putting them down on paper for discussion in order to get out and campaign together.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 38 Comments

Metaphors Matter

It’s true, metaphors matter, and far more than you might expect.

As Lib Dems we need to realise something. We don’t think the way we should think, so we don’t win where we should win.

People think mostly using the subconscious. This is the automatic bit of our brain. Want to test it… what’s 3+5 = ? The answer comes quick to you. It’s automatic. Because you have existing structures in your subconscious to answer questions. You’ve answered that a lot in the past so you’ve connected the question and answer.

When you were young you might of used your fingers, or counted objects. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Whither or wither moderation after Party Conference

I’ve been a bit busy since I left Brighton. Two health conferences; a meeting with a Minister; full Council and picketing the Labour Conference have kept me fairly occupied!

But the inevitable train journeys and waiting times have given me the time to reflect on what I saw and heard in Brighton.

Firstly, I heard no-one who described themselves as a moderate. Good, because neither am I! The fact that we are neither loony left or loony right does not make us moderates. We are a Party with fundamental principles that would cause a much greater upheaval in our society and in …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

ALDC Campaigner Awards 2018

The annual ALDC Campaigner Awards provide a way for us to recognise the outstanding work of local Liberal Democrat campaigners and campaign teams. And nominations for 2018 are now open (closing 26 August), sponsored by our print partners, Election Workshop. You don’t have to be an ALDC member to enter (but you can find out about membership here).

THE CATEGORIES:

Best local election campaign – We’re looking for local parties that have fought effective and strong 2018 local election campaigns – how did you win, what innovative new ideas did you use, …

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Why I became a Climate Reality Leader

For the past 15 years I have been a Liberal Democrat activist. I’ve been a local Party Secretary and Chair, fought local, Scottish, Westminster and European elections (and various referendums) as a campaigner and candidate, most recently as a Highland Councillor and Parliamentary candidate for Ross, Skye & Lochaber.

Following last years election I took some time out to reappraise my goals. There are a lot of areas for concern in the world but the question was where can I make a difference and what am I passionate about.

I concluded that I’m passionate about making things better …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

What you need to know about GDPR

With one month to go until the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) the focus for many is rightly the local elections. The team at LDHQ is still working hard and we recognize the importance of breaking down the legislation into smaller chunks. So we have developed a short, three-step process for handling data:

Download, Use, Delete.

We have been mentioning our new mantra recently in training and comms, but it would probably help if we took some time to explain in a bit more detail.

In short, we are trying to describe the ideal journey of data through your computer or personal files. To clarify, below we are talking about Lib Dem data exported from systems on the soon to be released Approved Supplier list.

Download

All information we use should be coming from a limited number of sources. For example: Salesforce for members, Connect for canvassing and Nationbuilder, Prater Raines or other approved platforms for online email sign-ups.

All of the above provide safe storage for data at rest, which from a data security standpoint is important.

Before downloading anything make sure that you have identified opt-outs and unsubscribes. It may sound a bit simplistic but it’s hugely important to do so.

Use

When using information, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Firstly, where did it come from and why was it collected. Data should only be used in accordance with the reason specified when first collected. We must respect where we have only gained consent to contact a person about a named campaign.

Secondly, think about who will be seeing the raw data, and whether you absolutely need to share it. For example, a printer obviously needs to see a list of names and addresses to produce a targeted mailing. However, the supporter delivering the same mailing not so much.

Posted in Campaign Corner | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

How an opposition Councillor can make a difference: My School Uniform Grant Story

Last May I was delighted to be elected to represent Dunfermline South in Fife Council after many years hard work. Of course, after the campaign, the important work of representing my constituents began, and I joined an excellent team of councillors holding the SNP/Labour coalition to account. With great enthusiasm, I was given the role of our education spokesperson in the Council.

A few months into the job, I noticed something in a national news report that concerned me. The Scottish Government had a recommended School Uniform Grant for all children from the least well off families, but that different …

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Why a good targeting strategy is essential

Michael Meadowcroft makes an impassioned case against Targeting but the facts simply do not support his case.

In a First Past The Post electoral system good targeting of resources is essential whether you are a local party fighting Council elections or a national party looking to maximise the number of MP’s elected. A good but widely spread vote wins little for a small third or fourth party. This was most clearly illustrated in 1983 when our 25.4% returned just 23 MP’s compared to Labour returning over 200 MP’s with a more geographically concentrated 27.5% of the vote.

Michael does concede that targeting worked in 1997 but says its effect was disastrous thereafter. In fact more seats were targeted in 2001 and we won 52 followed by 62 (our best since 1922) in 2005. In 2010 we targeted even more although we saw a net loss of 5 due to being too ambitious and spreading effort too thinly. At the same time, far from being ‘hollowed out’ everywhere else, we won control of a greater number of councils than ever before –a clear sign of growth and expansion in campaigning capability.

In short the ‘hollowing out’ of the Party between 2011-2017 owes nothing to targeting and everything to our virtually overnight self destruction shortly after entering Coalition. Neither of course was there ever some sort of pre-targeting ‘Golden Age’. From 1945 -1979 the Liberal Party fluctuated between a high of just 14 MPs in 1974 and near oblivion in many other General Elections. From 1983 onwards we averaged around 22 MP’s. Only after serious targeting started did we double and then treble that figure.

Some comments, both by Michael and below the line, do both puzzle and concern me though. I was involved with target seats from 1995-2015 in one capacity or another as voluntary constituency organiser, PPC, MP and back to Constituency Organiser. I never heard any suggestion in that time that ‘no’ activity should take place anywhere else although I did hear it rather foolishly being said in 2017. Indeed back in 1995 onwards there were 3 tiers of seats, with PPC’s being urged to campaign at appropriate levels and in non target constituencies to include ‘helping in a target’ as a ‘part’ of their personal and constituency campaign/development plan.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Regional Branding: the path to recovery

Christmas looks a little more cheerful for the Lib Dems after a string of November council by-election results but so far as national opinion polls go we are bumping along the bottom.

Given such data, it would be unsafe to draw the conclusion that are resolute anti-Brexit stance is paying dividends. It may well do so when some turn of events demonstrates to the vast swathes of voters that Brexit was a catastrophic economic and political mistake, but no-one just now is holding their breath. There may well come that Iraq moment when the party’s wisdom is demonstrably vindicated but …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 44 Comments
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    P.S.on the 'sick-note culture' question. Daisy Cooper MP, our Deputy Leader, has just been on the Any Questions Radio 4 programme. Asked about the position wit...
  • Nom de Plume
    Smoking tobacco is an evil that needs to be removed. Personal choice does not come into it. Well done to those brave enough to vote for the Bill....