Posts Tagged ‘canvassing’

Welcome new members – here’s some leaflets to deliver

13/05/2015, 11:54:08 AM

by James Noakes

20,000 new members since the election is something the Labour Party should be pleased about but we also shouldn’t squander this opportunity. Aside from updating the introductory email as the current one from Ed asks them to work for a Labour victory in 2015, there are some things we can do to make the membership experience better.

Ask not only why they join but what they want

We live in an age where membership experience of any organisation is increasingly driven by expectations. Except in political parties. Some people are driven to become very engaged and want to be out there flying the flag and canvassing, others want to be part of the policy process whilst there are some who just want to make a donation and receive some literature every now and then. It may come as a shock but not everyone joined to deliver leaflets or attend meetings akin to those of the People’s Front of Judea.

The party can save time, effort and annoyance if we just focus more on this crucial area. Imagine being a CLP secretary who is told that 200 new members have joined. That’s a lot of (somewhat enjoyable) work. Imagine though if the secretary was told 180 of them have no interest in meetings, leaflets or canvassing. It makes for a better directed approach.

Find out who they are

Even as an elected councillor there have been few occasions when I have been asked about my profession and what I could add. People come to the party with skills – life and work skills we can really make use of but invariably fail to do so. I’m not just talking about ‘professional’ skills or in depth knowledge of a particular subject field – though that is important to tap into. Sometimes it is a bit more straightforward. A colleague of mine worked in the pools industry and was used to stuffing envelopes at a ridiculously fast pace (and had friends who could help too). It was silly it took to so long to ask her to coordinate that!

Remember that they need help too (more…)

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South Shields, Vincent Hanna and a compelling message

13/05/2013, 09:15:06 AM

by John Braggins

A lot has been written about the South Shields by-election and whether Labour should’ve done better half-way through an unpopular coalition government. And if so who or what was to blame – the lack of organisation, the previous MP, the local party or even the party leader?

First, the facts: Labour’s vote was 50.5% – down 1.5% from the 2010 general election; the Tories’ vote was 11.5% – down 10% and the Lib Dems vote was 1.5% – down 13%.  UKIP, of course, picked up 24%.

So in an ultra-safe Labour constituency in the midst of one of the worst recessions in living memory in which many voters still – rightly or wrongly – blame Gordon Brown and the last Labour government, Labour lost less than 2% of its 2010 vote.

Labour should’ve done better, absolutely, but to blame the lack of electoral data collected before the by-election started is to ignore the fact that there was the lack of a compelling message to galvanise South Shields voters.

I learnt this most graphically at the 1987 Greenwich by-election. The by-election was caused by the death of the popular Labour MP, Guy Barnett and Labour was expected to romp home with an increased majority and indeed the first published poll gave Labour 60% of the vote. The campaign lasted seven weeks, canvassed virtually every household and provided enough data to run an excellent polling day system.

Around 11am on polling day, Vincent Hanna who had pioneered exit polls in by-elections and developed the BBC’s by-election coverage into an art form, came into the party HQ with the news of the first exit poll. “If you want to maximise your effort” he told the assembled campaign team, “pack up and go home”. He continued “from the 11am figures I can tell you that for every two Labour doors you knock on today, one will go out and vote SDP, so if want my advice don’t knock on any doors.”


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My good friend Tony Gardner

20/10/2011, 07:30:57 AM

by Peter Watt

My good friend Tony Gardner died this week, aged 84 years old. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years, but I kept in touch with how he was. He was the man who first really got me active in Labour politics and was a friend, mentor and supporter for many years. I know that I will miss his friendship. But I will always have fond memories of the pints of beer and conversation we enjoyed in The George and The Blue Boar.

We sat, supped, reviewed that evening’s canvassing and planned our assault on the political citadel of Poole borough council. His advice has stood me in good stead over the years, even if we never quite managed to take the borough chamber.

Tony was the Labour candidate in Wolverhampton South West in 1964, losing to Enoch Powell. He was elected to the House of Commons for the Rushcliffe constituency in 1966 and served for four years before losing to Ken Clarke in 1970. He stood again, unsuccessfully, in the two elections in 1974 in the Beeston constituency. He moved to Poole on the south coast and over the years he stood in countless local elections and then was Labour’s candidate at the 1994 European elections in the Dorset and East Devon Constituency. He once told me that he’d joined the Labour league of youth because its parties attracted the best girls. (more…)

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How the ward was won: Paul Cotterill

09/06/2010, 10:48:36 AM

In the district elections of 2007, a team of just four activists helped to secure a Labour victory within a safe rural Tory seat never before held by Labour. We saw a 44% increase in the Labour vote since the last time the seat was contested in 2003.

It would be easy to be overly triumphant, and to make claims that ‘all local campaigns should be run like this’.  In fact, we followed the general campaigning guidance issued from the Labour party centrally and regionally. But we do believe that other specific lessons might be learned from what we managed to achieve.

First, we had a different approach to the press. The standard Labour campaigning message is that all opportunities to raise the profile of the party, and especially the candidate in the local press should be seized.  In the Bickerstaffe campaign this was not done, and there were no press releases or calls to the press of any kind.


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