Tag Archives: campaigning

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

Posted in Campaign Corner | Also tagged | 6 Comments

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

Ten reasons why we wrote Fourth to First

I confess to knowing very little about anything – in particular political campaigning. But one thing I can talk about at length is how we did it in a small rural patch of North Norfolk (six shops, four pubs, two petrol stations and zero towns), going from fourth position last time to first in May 2017 with a majority of 420.

It was the first time I’d fought a campaign from start to finish, and it was quite a ride. So much so that Freya, my sister and campaign manager, and I decided to write a book about …

Posted in Campaign Corner | Also tagged | 14 Comments

We can learn from UKIP!

UKIP is dead in the water. Their voters have swung to a Tory party committed to Brexit with no final consultation and the opening new grammar schools, both signature policies of UKIP: their task is done.

Meanwhile, we Lib Dems are bigger than we’ve ever been; and yet in spite of a 2% swing to us, we are not making the gains we deserve. Both Labour and the Tories have sticky voters who aren’t coming over to us: if Corbyn was as much of a dead weight as people say, I would expect a bigger swing from Labour; and Tory voters seem optimistic the consequences of Brexit can be weathered in a safe pair of government hands.

We need to learn from UKIP. To be victims of our own success would be a great pleasure. As most people see it, we are victims of our own stupidity; the one totem policy people associated with us got dropped. The ins-and-outs of policy do not matter to the man on the street. The strides we made in government, of which we are rightly proud, simply aren’t important.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 54 Comments

William Wallace writes a letter to a new member….

 

Dear New Member,

It’s been exhilarating to meet you and so many of your friends and fellows at meetings over the past few months.

After years of talking to small numbers of Liberal Democrat members in the corners of pubs or the living rooms of houses, packed meetings of interested and well-informed people warm the soul.  Some of the questions thrown at me display levels of expertise on specific policies well above what I’ve acquired; the only answer I could offer to the new member who asked what I thought we could learn from the Finnish school system was, “You tell me”.   I was invited to a meeting for new members in Yorkshire, some months ago, to talk about our party’s approach to foreign policy, to discover from the first three people I met that each of them had years of experience of working in countries that I had never visited.

The party organization is struggling with its limited resources to make good use of the expertise which many new recruits have brought us.  Some are already serving on policy working groups, some helpfully advising different parliamentary spokesmen, others are feeding in to shaping policies at regional level.  I look forward to meeting more new members at the Spring conference in York, including in the consultation sessions on Friday which provide the easiest opportunities for members to feed in ideas.

Many of your friends and fellow enthusiasts have piled in to Witney and Richmond, and some also to Sleaford, Copeland and Stoke – and found election campaigning a wonderful collective activity.  But can I say to you what I’ve said to the several university professors who have come to talk to me about helping the party they have just joined?  “Get out there and walk the streets, outside active election campaigns.  Deliver leaflets, and knock on doors.  You will learn a huge amount about the state of British politics and society; and it starts to make a difference to people who feel cut off from politics and political elites and will respond to activists who take an interest in their own concerns.”

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

Speedy leaflet delivery

 

The last two Sundays I have been helping with our campaign in Stoke-on-Trent by delivering leaflets. The first visit I set off on a blustery, drizzly day with an armful of slippery leaflets. Within five minutes the leaflets had cascaded to the ground buffeted by the strong  gusts of wind. I suppose this is one way of distributing leaflets!

Helped by my leafleting companion we managed to retrieve most of the leaflets which now formed a rather soggy jumbled pile. I went on to deliver them but this having happened didn’t help the process especially with awkward letterboxes. Being a person who believes in learning from our mistakes, and who in general takes a problem solving approach to life, my next visit I equipped myself with a suitable delivery bag and an extra long spatula.

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

Lessons from Lincolnshire

Elections come and go, but the memories and the camaraderie live on.  The telling of old by-election stories and hearing them re-written over time and years is part of the fun.  But they can also be sad and hurtful.  

It has taken me years to get over the deep personal trauma that I now realise I suffered in the aftermath of years of campaigning to win Hampstead and Kilburn, and the impact of losing on a recount.  And I probably will never fully lose that trauma.  Yet I am sitting here now in the wreckage of a by-election HQ and I’m beaming.

Here in the HQ it’s down to just me and the agent Ian Horner. Even Ada our host has gone shopping, and yet neither of us feel sad.  There is a positive mood about what we achieved and a satisfaction about a job well done.

You all know the result. You had predicted it and over analaysed it before the count had even commenced so I won’t attempt to drag over it again here.  But  let me offer some thoughts that I think are important for the Liberal Democrats, and for me, issues we urgently need to address and tackle.

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

An election or not?

Right now it feels a little like an electoral phoney war. Rumours of a possible snap general election prompted the party, rightly, to do urgent selections of prospective parliamentary candidates over the summer. Will the election happen? Could a possible false alarm be helpful?

One answer is to wait and see: a general election in October would point to a different strategy from one early in 2017, and we don’t have resources to invest a lot in an election that doesn’t happen.

But the appointment of a slate of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) and putting things in place for an election campaign is an opportunity to put forward strong party values and to engage with people who have joined recently in shock at the referendum result. If we get it right, what we do now helps to shape the national debate and strengthens our hand for whatever elections are on the horizon. Internally, this is also a chance to run meetings where PPCs (and others) speak, helping draw people together in a way that is more positive than just lamenting the referendum result.

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Make calls and make a difference

ALDC Phonebank
I am a brand new member to the Liberal Democrats, having joined after the disappointing Referendum result in June.

I was definitely impassioned by the Referendum result and wanted to get involved with the party right away.  I thought the ALDC by-election phone bank seemed a good place to start.

Using the phone bank is really easy. It takes ten minutes of training to get started. If you’ve used a phone and a computer before, you’ll be an expert in no time.

Making the phone calls is a really positive experience. We ring around wards throughout the UK and gauge support in that area for the Lib Dems in upcoming council by-elections.
 

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Moving forwards as positive campaigners

If I took one thing away from the referendum campaign, it would be that voters and activists are being ever-more turned off from politics (high turnout notwithstanding).

People on the streets were reacting against the fearmongering, the negativity and the ad hominem attacks employed by many parties in the last few weeks and months.

Back in 2015, we learned that campaigns based on adding ‘brains’ or ‘hearts’ to other parties’ manifestos just don’t work.
My view?

We as Liberal Democrats need to energise ourselves and our communities with a positive, optimistic and internationalist message. And we need to be doing it from today, as many of us are already.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

Reinvigorating Liberal Democrat campaigns

Despite a slight kick-start in the most recent elections we are still a long way off form truly having a #libdemfightback. If that is something we really want to do then we must start taking a real look at campaign strategy and the way we are fighting these elections.

For years now the Liberal Democrats have been running a campaign that, whilst it does reach certain people, it is not working as well it perhaps could be. Targeting strong seats is very sensible and admirable but if feel we are potentially missing out on capturing other constituencies.

Having lived in several London boroughs it is a shame I have not been visited by any of the local Liberal Democrats standing for Parliament or  local council. I believe our lack of presence may mean we aren’t reaching potential voters.

#LibDemFightBack must be more than just an ideology or a slogan. Targeting key seats is of course a great idea, but I think we can’t underestimate how much we can make an impact in other areas. I know we will not get immediate results and other parties are also on the streets as well. It will of course take more than flyers and canvassing and I think if we can have a strong and captivating message we can potentially meet and sway new voters and even new members. I am not entirely sure what the answer is but I think we must attempt to re-evaluate our approach and try new things out. Whether it is as simple as canvassing in areas we are weak or organising events, publicity stunts, getting digital or just re-thinking our messaging. Whatever form that may take I think we must continue to keep our message alive and positive in any new ways we can and try and get both members and non-members really passionate about the party and our policies.

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John Pugh MP writes…Two lessons from Thursday

Southport councillors 2016In Southport last Thursday we did something no party has ever done before in Southport’s history- won all the council seats by healthy margins. Not everyone knows where Southport is but its on the northern tip of the Merseyside region on the Lancashire coast. On Thursday I was puzzled when contacted by the press department expressing worry about the defection of one of my councillors. It turned out it was a bloke in Stockport who had defected. Easy mistake to make if you are from London.

Southport is part of Sefton MBC which has big wards averaging 12,000. During the Coalition most of Merseyside fell like dominoes to Labour including the Sefton seats outside Southport leaving us (Southport) an isolated fortress. This year it was different with Richard Kemp and Kris Brown spearheading a heroic revival in Liverpool and gains made in Knowsley. The only sadness was that in some other areas of Merseyside where we had taken successive kickings in previous years the will to win and the belief that we could was not there. Hopefully that won’t be the case in 2018 or in the counties in 2017.

Conclusion number one therefore is that the atmosphere is changing but more self-belief is needed.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

It’s our legacy – let’s proclaim it

290715 1

We must not let the Tories define our legacy, as they did for Labour when that government fell. We were a force for good in the Coalition government, ensuring fairer and better policies for all. But we are not being given the credit for it by the public. Our standing in the polls is still less than 10%, and in Oldham West we didn’t save our deposit. Despite the valiant efforts of Tim and his team, eight months after the General Election we are not getting heard. Political discussion and comment in the media mostly ignores us. What to do?

Let’s look at how we got to this position. ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men…’ and so there is. We swept into Coalition as a tide of discontent, and alarm at the economic situation swept Labour away. Action followed by reaction is the general rule of political history. Last year we were left like so much flotsam and jetsam on the beach.

Posted in Op-eds | 58 Comments

Tweets from the campaign trail: Snow edition

All over the country, Liberal Democrats have been campaigning today, some of them in the snow. Here are some of the icy tweets. Thankfully, the reception on the doorsteps was much warmer.

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Tim’s pick a ward and win it – how that’s part of the Isle of Wight’s #libdemfightback

Nicholas Belfitt winning hereIn June last year I attended a small event in Guildford in the run-up to the leadership election where I was lucky to meet Tim Farron. He  made a great speech which, as always was both thorough and entertaining. But it was in the end what he said that began to push me to believe in the Lib Dems. Pick a ward and win it.

No words have been so strong for me. After the event it was all I could think about for weeks and weeks during which time I returned  home to the Isle of Wight. I had always dreamed of being able to be involved, but like many young liberals I thought that caution and moving through groups such as the Liberal Youth were the formats in which make  progress. But I could not get that line out of my head.

I began to be involved in my local party and before I knew it I was swiftly elected Vice-Chair. ME? At 22? The only experience I had of campaigning was under Kelly-Marie Blundell in her Guildford campaign, but I had no training or preparation.  

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Are by-elections the best use of activists’ time?

Over the course of November I lost count of the exhortations I received to contribute, either financially or through my time, to the Oldham campaign. But is our current approach to by-elections the best for our party, and, if not, what wider lessons can we draw? This article is written to provoke, to challenge, and to inspire debate; equally, it is not written to insult or degrade the hard work or enthusiasm of activists or candidates with which this party is blessed.

Activists are encouraged to get involved in a by-election for a number of reasons: (i) the excellent qualities of the local candidate; (ii) the opportunity to increase our representation at Westminster; (iii) there is value in 2nd/3rd/… place; (iv) to learn about effective methods of campaigning; (v) to spread our national message; and (vi) it’s fun/sociable/exciting! But we have to realise that we are a seriously resource constrained political party. Resources are financial and people-time: activists, party staff, and political figures (e.g. MPs). I would argue that these are all more seriously limited than at any time since I joined the party in 2005, with the possible exception of activists. Even here, many will have full time commitments, a family, other volunteering work etc. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 20 Comments

The #libdemfightback continues in Hinckley and Bosworth

I would echo my good friend Caron Lindsay in her congratulations to Sheree Miller for gaining 9% and coming second in a by election in Newham in London, in a Ward where we did not stand at all last time around. Likewise Tim Farron’s congratulations to Jane Brophy and her team for their campaign in Oldham. If we do not contest such elections hard then we cannot build for the future.

In the same vein the efforts of Hinckley and Bosworth Liberal Democrats deserve recognition. In September their candidate Shani Smith gained a by election contest from Labour in the Barwell area. Thursday 3rd December saw another by election in the adjacent Ward in Barwell. This time their candidate Terry Kirby almost doubled our vote share taking us from fourth place in May to 36% of the vote in a close second place and missing beating the Conservatives by just 25 votes.

Spearheading both campaigns alongside the candidates was Michael Mullaney who as Parliamentary Candidate moved the Liberal Democrats from third to second place in the 2010 General Election. In May 2015 Michael gained one of the better Liberal Democrat results in the UK, moving the Constituency from 100th most winnable to 44th most winnable.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Campaigning with C.A.R.

Campaigning

The North and East Liberal Democrat AGM was held last Friday.  We had a good turnout, enjoyed the wine and mince pies (thank you!) and had a really interesting and brilliant talk from Baron Jeremy Purvis of Tweed.

Jeremy posed some real issues for us Liberal Democrats in terms of identity.  After all, in a liberal society where everybody claims to be small ‘l’ liberal, what is the use of a liberal party?  Especially in a system where everybody from both left and right have to converge upon the centre ground in order to gain power.  The SNP and Conservative “love-in” has changed things though.  Each present themselves as the only alternative to the other  This situation led to the SNP almost sweeping the board in Scotland (50% vote share) and to the Tory majority government on 37% of the vote.  There is nothing as useful in politics as having a good enemy.  This viewpoint, however, leads only to insularity, acrimony and bitterness.

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Let’s get some national campaigns going on issues the voters care about

Our Party is all about campaigning. It is what saved the old Liberal Party from extinction and what sustains us in difficult times. I know local parties up and down the country are running campaigns on many different issues, but we lack some important national ones.
What about Europe I hear you say, or the Human Rights Act?

Well, yes, the EU and human rights are important issues and we do have to campaign for them, but they are not high on people’s list of concerns.

Apart from Europe, we have individual initiatives launched by the leader or an MP, which is great. I am thinking in particular of Tim Farron’s prioritising of housing, and Norman Lamb on social care. However we need that little bit extra, something that really captures attention. What I am thinking of are issues where we can get out amongst the voters with a petition and potentially get lots of signature on equally important areas of policy that emphasise our social liberalism.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

Help get the Oldham postal vote out

Half of people in Oldham West and Royton get their ballot papers in the next few days. Can you encourage them to cast their votes for the excellent Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Brophy?

National Campaigns Officer Steve Jolly explains why you should:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: Performance v Effectiveness: How the Lib Dems can (and must) fight smart

In the run up to the election, I sent numerous emails to activists in Hornsey and Wood Green, congratulating them for hitting ‘green’ in all our HQ-monitored key performance indicators (KPIs).

We were model pupils. Bar membership, I think we hit green every month, on every indicator.

And it’s no wonder. We worked so hard – and the campaign was the biggest that Hornsey had ever seen: in terms of numbers of activists on the ground, number of doors knocked on, and pieces of literature produced and delivered.

We were more organised and more targeted in our approach than ever before. We couldn’t have worked harder.

In fact, the one thing that didn’t hit ‘green’ was the only thing that really mattered – the result. That was a big fat (-10,000) red.

This pattern was true of many other seats – and as a local campaign manager, I’ve put a lot of thought into why this happened.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 53 Comments

Opinion: We mustn’t be afraid to attack the opposition when they deserve it

Many things are being written about the election we have just been through. I for one think this is great; everyone is engaged and wanting to examine what went wrong, how we can learn, what can we do next time. The key is that we’re all committed to rebuilding and giving it all we have again next time. This is really encouraging, so I wanted to add my own little insight and raise a few more questions for our campaign teams, local and national, to address.

My issue concerns the ever-dreaded ‘negative’ campaigning. It’s something we as Liberal Democrats really struggle with, especially at a local level. One of the biggest frustrations for me in all my campaigning roles I’ve held so far, is that the superb team of local councillors and candidates I’ve always worked with are entirely uncomfortable with praising themselves but even more so with blaming the opposition for things that they absolutely should be blamed for.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Opinion: Letterbox v doorstep

 

I’ve been volunteering in my seat of Watford for Dorothy Thornhill since February, offering my assistance whenever I can. I’ve done my fair share of both deliveries and canvassing since then, and whilst I was doing some deliveries I got thinking.

Which way is the best way to attract voters and win people over?

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

Inside a Liberal Democrat Action day – with Stephen Lloyd and the Eastbourne team

Ever wondered what happens on a Lib Dem action day? Lots of phoning voters, leafletting, delivering and stuffing envelopes. Eastbourne Liberal Demcorat candidate and MP till Parliament was dissolved Stephen Lloyd produced this video of an action day last month. It’s full of people who talk about why they have come along to help.

He’s holding more tomorrow and Sunday. If you are near Eastbourne and can make it, please sign up here or go along at 10 am.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments
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