Tag Archives: connect

Changes to payment for Connect and Salesforce

Since becoming Chief Executive, I am trying to streamline our operations and cut out unnecessary waste.  With limited resources, we need to be agile and dynamic, to simplify processes and maximise the time, money and effort we devote to campaigning.

Currently, local parties are either invoiced or debited for Connect and Salesforce. Processing all this and then chasing it up involves significant staff time and pointless bureaucracy.

Worse still, there are grotesque and unjustifiable anomalies in the sums that local parties, both large and small, are paying for these digital

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Time to ditch Connect?

The party has used two systems for computer based campaigning. EARS, developed in the UK for UK elections and more recently Connect, which was developed for use in US and Canadian election systems. Some elections ago the party made a decision to start using Connect instead of EARS as its main computer tool for digital and on the ground campaigns. This was largely because at that time EARS had not been able to demonstrate that it could provide an internet based service of the sort the party wanted.

So there began an experiment with this USA based computer tool that promised much but often failed to deliver it. I know umpteen people who after many training sessions on this election software are no nearer being able to use it than when they started. There are a number of things that make Connect a failure.

  1. As it is web based, with no backups on computers in each constituency, when it crashes or when the servers go down, we’re stuffed. There is reason to believe that Connect going offline during recent General Elections cost us seats we might otherwise have held or won. There is nothing worse than losing all your data on polling day and that has happened more than once, often for several hours.
  2. You can’t actually get the data you want to deal with on screen in front of you in an easy readable format.
  3. The Connect system seems unable to cope with the requirement for stable walk orders and printing out canvass cards that bear any relation to what’s on the ground is, if not impossible, beyond the ability of many of its users.

Now to be fair, the one part of Connect that made many of us willing to persevere with it is Minivan. It really is superb to be able to canvass, knock up and take numbers on a tablet or a phone and for it to go straight onto the system. Even then that only works if you are connected to the system via phone or wifi.

The reality is that this software developed for the US and Canadian election systems has adapted poorly to the UK. However, in line with the oft-cited inability of politicians to admit mistakes, those who continue to push Connect, seem blind to the difficulties experienced on a daily basis by many who use it.

So much time and party money has been invested that there is a reluctance to look at any alternative

I would argue that the time has come to abandon Connect, because the EARS platform is now superior to it.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 28 Comments

What’s the use of an elections database if it isn’t up-to-date during an election!

Mick Taylor and fellow Todmorden Lib Dems out and about

Mick Taylor and fellow Todmorden Lib Dems out and about

I am currently helping in a small local by-election for Todmorden Town Council. Amongst the things I have been doing is making sure that we use Connect properly. Imagine my frustration then when I discovered that it is not possible to add the voters who have come on to the register just in time to vote in the by-election. I have taken this up with the powers that be but have been told that they can only cope with the once a month regular register updates.

So the only way we can deal with this small number of new electors is to do it ON PAPER. I have also discovered that there is no way to remove defunct postal vote information, except by individual voter, a slow and time-consuming process.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 28 Comments

Email glitch highlights need for better integration of party databases

I’ve had something to say about the content of certain emails which have come out from party HQ.  On Wednesday, I couldn’t fault the content of the email that came out from none other than party legend Sir Simon Hughes to new members:

It is my pleasure to invite you to your first Liberal Democrat Conference as a member of the Liberal Democrats.

This year’s Autumn Conference in Bournemouth (19th – 23rd September) is the first big opportunity for our party to gather together in large numbers following the general election and an opportunity to meet with like-minded people to discuss and debate ideas about the party’s direction in the future.

All those attending conference for the first time can register at a special discounted rate of £72 for the whole week or, if you prefer, you can register for just the weekend or for just one day – it’s entirely up to you. I would be really pleased, Galen, if you could join me and other Liberal Democrats at our September Conference this year.

Already more members have registered to attend this Conference than our Autumn Conference last year – a really encouraging increase. Members want to meet the new leader and hear directly from Tim Farron about his plans and ideas for the years ahead.

To make sure you have a really good time at Conference we’ve put together a number of ‘new representative’ events, giving you the chance to meet me and other new representatives. We have also put together a schedule of recommended events to show you what Conference is like which we’ll make available shortly.

The problem was that much mirth was caused by the fact that this was received by quite a lot of people who were not what you would call new members. One friend who joined the party the year I was born received it, as did one of our most prolific commenters on this site. A quick head count of all the people I know who got it reveals several hundred years of Liberal Democrat membership between them. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: What is with the Lib Dem love affair with leaflets?

FocusI’ve been thinking about this for a while, and am convinced that I am the only Liberal Democrat to feel this way.  Nonetheless, I have to share my feelings with a group of people that will understand, perhaps in the declining, yet desperate hope that I will find someone else who feels this way.  Therefore, I must ask exactly what is with the Liberal Democrat love affair with leaflets?

I haven’t always hated the things.  I remember happily putting yellow leaflets through doors as a 4 year old with my parents, but since growing up I’ve developed an intense hatred of the things.  From printing them, to pulling paper out of a jammed Riso, then folding them, and finally delivering them in the mist, and rain.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 43 Comments

Romney’s polling day technology meltdown: Orca

The usual post-electoral defeat search for explanations and people to blame has an added edge for the Republicans after Mitt Romney’s defeat earlier this month. Not only did Romney lose, he lost in all the states that were picked as being in serious contention, the Republicans actually lost ground in the Senate (when they had hopes of making gains) and the initial voting analysis shows the Republicans with a big problem: the parts of the electorate that are growing are the parts which vote against them the most heavily.

Posted in Campaign Corner and Online politics | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: How CONNECT helped hold Chelmsford

On Thursday 28th June, activists from all over the country and beyond helped secure two vital by-election wins in Chelmsford. Stephen Robinson was elected to the Chelmsford North division of Essex County Council, and Paul Bentham for the Patching Hall ward on Chelmsford City Council. In both elections, the Conservatives were well beaten into second place.

Stephen said:

I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped us make this victory possible. Having so many activists available helped us secure the legacy of long-serving Lib Dem incumbent Cllr. Tom Smith-Hughes, who sadly died earlier in the year.

Saffron Walden Constituency Chairman Nick Edwards, …

Posted in Council by-elections | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

‘How can Lib Dems avoid oblivion?’ asks PoliticsHome

Over at PoliticsHome, Mark Gettleson puts Lib Dem campaigning under the microscope to ask what the 2015 general election might hold for the party. He makes four points:

1. In 2010, the Lib Dems won the air war and lost the ground war

There had been an uncoordinated increase in votes – around a million – largely in seats they were not going to win. But what was clear was that the party lacked the kind of national organisation into which to feed the volunteers of Cleggmania, the ability to measure success in given seats (few saw the loss of Harrogate

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 38 Comments

Opinion – Twitter: powerful campaign tool or waste of effort?

The simple tweet “F*ck” at 10am with the reply “Agreed” last Friday was the only source and all the evidence I required to know that Chris Huhne had been charged. Two words tied emotion with cognition. I followed Nick Clegg’s tax cut speech live through the medium of 140 character paraphrase: a sort of Focus-speak reduction I can only imagine would have the speech-writers crying. The utterance “Borgen – Danish West Wing” was all the persuasion necessary to watch it religiously.

Twitter is free, fast and tragic. And if it wasn’t powerful in facilitating the fall of

Posted in Online politics and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

Jake Holland writes: Connect is here to help you win

All Liberal Democrat campaigners will agree that there’s no worse feeling at the end of a hard-fought election campaign than losing by a handful of votes.

In the 2010 General Election, we were less than 1000 votes away from winning in 10 constituencies. Analysing these results, it was clear that our campaign technology had fallen behind the other two main parties. Tasks that our opponents took for granted, such as linking a campaign system directly to a website, or organising a nationwide volunteer phone bank, were beyond our capabilities.

Connect is the cutting edge in campaign technology that will put us

Posted in Online politics and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Moving to CONNECT

The all-member edition of Liberal Democrat News recently posted out included this piece from myself about the party’s new electoral database software, CONNECT:

One of the big talking points amongst party activists at the Birmingham conference was CONNECT, the party’s new electoral database software which was put through many demonstrations to different groups of future users – data officers, treasurers, campaign organisers and so on.

Like others, I am impressed by its ability to make what we have tried to do in the past easier, more effective and quicker – especially given my experience using existing systems since the 1990s and also …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Free casework software coming for ALDC members

A great new benefit is on the way for members of ALDC, the Liberal Democrat body for councillors and campaigners – access to the CONNECT database’s casework system.

Starting early in 2012, all ALDC members will get access to CONNECT’s casework facilities for free (or rather, for no extra charge beyond their ALDC membership subscription). It is a logical extension of ALDC’s similar free provision of its MyCouncillor blogging system and will make a good system available to thousands of councillors.

One of the nice touches of …

Posted in Local government and News | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Mark Sullivan on how his firm’s software helps win elections

Earlier in the week I blogged my interview with Mark Sullivan, who founded the firm that is supplying the party’s new CONNECT electoral database software. For some further background on him and his firm, here’s an interview Mark Sullivan gave in late 2008:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Interviewing Mark Sullivan, the founder of the party’s new electoral database supplier

During the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham, I had the chance to quiz Mark Sullivan (the founder of VAN, which is becoming the party’s new electoral database software under the name CONNECT).

I’m (like others) excited about the possibilities CONNECT will bring, partly because I’ve worked with EARS for just about two decades now. It has helped produce some stupendous election results and people involved with it have worked tremendously hard. But it also has some major limitations, particularly the number of bugs (including more than once data being lost on polling day), the haphazard record of delivering new …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , and | 15 Comments

The countdown to Connect has begun

News from Lib Dem HQ of the Liberal Democrats’ new campaign software:

Campaigning across the party is set to get a major boost when Connect comes online later this year. Connect is the UK version of the world’s leading campaign software that’s being built for the party by Voter Activation Network (VAN).

It is based on the tried and tested technology successfully used by Barack Obama and the Democrats in the US and in several other countries around the world. Connect combines high level security and stability, powerful campaigning tools …

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

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 16th Aug - 6:39pm
    @frankie You said; “i(sic) don’t think you understand what ‘status quo’ means”. Of course I understand what ‘status quo’ means. That’s why I wrote ‘status...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Aug - 6:17pm
    Nigel Jones - 'He tried to put the issue more personally by asking her what she felt her action would do to the black immigrant...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Aug - 6:11pm
    David Allen - 'Do Lib Dems want to argue that poor-white UKIP voters have got it all round their necks, and that what they really...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 16th Aug - 6:10pm
    The responsibility for prisoners being re-settled must fall primarily on the prisoners themselves. Lib Dems should surely encourage self help rather than dependence. Outside intervention...
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Aug - 6:04pm
    Martin, I fear at least one of the first two commentators fails to read the comments as well. 😉
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Aug - 6:01pm
    John, You obviously didn't get past the first two sentences of my post did you, I think I answered your quote more than adequetely. You...