Tag Archives: campaigning

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 | 31 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
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