Posts Tagged ‘activists’

Ashcroft marginals’ polls show Labour’s not ahead enough and now needs the other parties to fail

14/04/2015, 04:45:35 PM

Where would we be without Lord Ashcroft? His metamorphosis from Belize-based Tory financier to philanthropic godfather of British psephology, has bequeathed to the statistical junkies of British politics a treasure trove of polling in marginal seats to chew over.

The latest tranche of data from ten Conservative/Labour marginals shows that the overall race remains tight, with the Tories edging the lead in five, Labour in three, while the parties are tied in the remaining two seats.

These are the kinds of constituencies that the governing party has to win. What the polls reveal is that two serious strategic threats remain for Labour.

The first, is that having successfully squeezed the Lib Dems, Labour can’t realistically harvest any more votes from them. They are down around the 5-7 per cent mark in all of the ten seats. This is rock bottom for them and the only direction they can now head in is back up. Any revival in Lib Dem fortunes during the remainder of the campaign comes at Labour’s expense.

The second, is that the Tories still have ample opportunity to squeeze UKIP. Their support ranges from seven per cent in Finchley and Golders Green, through to 21 per cent in Dover, with their support in the remaining eight seats clustered at around 15 per cent.

This gives the Tories something to target in their own attempt at squeezing their nearest rival, with Cameron’s plea to disaffected Conservative defectors to “come home” a lingering threat as we approach the midway point in this election campaign.

None of this is to discount the hard work done by Labour activists on the ground. On the contrary, these polls clearly show Labour’s ground war having an effect, with Labour’s candidates beating the Tories’ campaigning efforts by 64-47 per cent when voters are asked which campaign has been in touch.

Yet in the increasingly complex arena of British politics, the unmistakable message from these polls is that Labour is not far enough ahead in some of the seats it must win and finds itself reliant on the fortunes of the other parties.

It needs the Lib Dems to stay sunk and for the Tories to fail to peel off support from UKIP. Or to quote Gore Vidal, it is not enough to succeed, others must fail.

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In praise of…the hardy souls that fight these by-elections

28/02/2013, 07:00:52 AM

by Peter Watt

Early this morning there will have been alarm clocks (or more likely alarms on mobile phones) going off in hotels and guest houses in Eastleigh and beyond.  Activists will have woken from their slumbers in order to do the polling morning delivery.  Ideally they’ll be delivered before the polls open at 7 but in many cases it will still be being delivered later.  Committee rooms will be being set up members and supporters houses as the culmination of a few weeks frantic campaigning is reached.

The parliamentary by-election is a very special event for all dedicated political activists.  It’s where you often learn your trade and hone new skills.  It’s where war stories are shared from previous electoral battles and new scars are earned.

My first by-election was the south east staffordshire by-election held in April 1996.  I was nursing in Dorset at the time but politics was my true love.  I used up four days of annual leave and pootled on up to Tamworth.  Angela Wilkins was the running the committee room that I was allocated to and Fiona Gordon was running the show.  I delivered leaflets, knocked on doors and glared at the odd Tory I saw on the streets.  And on my final day there I went to a local pub on my own to support Liverpool against Aston Villa in the FA cup semi.  I hadn’t realised until I walked in it was Villa country!

Every by-election that I have been involved in has had a core team of staff and volunteers who become a little community.  They share a space and share an experience that bonds them.  The early days are the best when like pioneers you arrive and need to learn about the alien environment that you have moved into.  You print the maps and find a campaign HQ.  Wards are allocated and the leafleting and door knocking begins.  Maybe you get the odd frontbencher turning up and perhaps even a few local members get involved.  But it’s you against the Party HQ and the hours are long.  And then others start arriving and you pretend to be pleased but secretly it’s irritating that others are intruding.  Experts start arriving to help with press and writing copy.  The campaign HQ fills up with the great and the good whilst the real work is still going on from the campaign centres dotted across the constituency.

Then there are the by-election characters, every by-election has them.  There are the geeky students who turn up on day three and stay right until the end.  They somehow always find somewhere to stay and people always buy them drinks.  They are incredibly enthusiastic and will do whatever is asked.  There is the local member (or whole groups of members) who hates the whole by-election team as outsiders who ‘don’t what it’s like around here’.  They have never needed all of this fancy nonsense before and they certainly don’t need it now!  They probably wanted to be the candidate but were blocked by the NEC.  Then there is the local member who simply can’t do enough for the campaign.  They open up their house and put people up; they share local intelligence and translate the local political spats.

There is always at least one romance, and generally more, the campaign pub and everyone’s favourite Indian restaurant.   The campaign stories develop as they are retold; the dog that nearly bashed down the door when leafleting, the Tory who was persuaded to switch and the government minister that was lost in the labyrinthine estate.


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It’s time for the party to fête our activists like we do our financial donors

19/06/2012, 04:52:43 PM

by  Prem Goyal

David Lloyd-George declared upon the end of the Great War that his mission was to “make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in”.  While we are not at war, fighting in no-man’s land, Labour is engaged in a constant battle for the hearts and minds of the British people, which requires high grassroots morale.

Lloyd-George understood that after years of sacrifice, the country had to improve and mobilise to recognise the value of ordinary men putting their lives on the line. Fast forward, and it’s time for Labour to recognise and reward the many activists who put themselves on the neighbourhood frontline,  in various, hours, days, weeks and months, campaigning for the social democratic cause and empowering their local communities.

All of our members have stories and experiences that have the potential to excite and inspire, so let’s create a club with which we can celebrate this commitment and success.

This club would be an equivalent to the Thousand Club – with the difference that it would recognise members for contributing time and effort rather than money.

It would bring the same benefits enjoyed by our generous donors to members contributing significant amounts of time for Labour, whether campaigning, developing Labour policy and ideas within their local areas or empowering their local community.

While not discrediting the Thousand Club in any way, Labour must be willing think outside the box of traditionally rewarding people for financial capital and recognise the importance of voluntary and human capital – proactively rewarding activists for time and effort put in that is equivalent to the amounts paid to the Thousand Club.


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We’ve had dissent and discipline, it’s time for debate and dialogue

05/11/2010, 03:00:08 PM

by Jessica Asato

This week I did something 99.9% of the population didn’t. I took part in a Labour party branch discussion about reform of partnership in power (PiP) – the party’s policy-making process introduced in 1997.

Liam Byrne has been put in charge of leading the review process which will conclude in June next year and changes to policy arrangements will be agreed by party conference. As Pat McFadden states at the start of the consultation document, “now, in opposition, the time is right to have a fundamental review of our policy making process”. Actually, I don’t quite agree with that. We should have reviewed and improved policy making when we knew the top of the party was failing to communicate with the membership and nipped it in the bud. If your footsoldiers are unhappy about the direction of the top brass they will be less willing to do their best in the fight on the ground.

In fact, a number of things about the document don’t quite make the grade. It states “Partnership in Power has in most people’s eyes been considered a success”. What, seriously? No one at my branch meeting seemed to think it had. Even its assertion that PiP helped to “deliver election winning manifestos in 2001 and 2005” is pushing it a bit far when a) most of the new policy in those manifestos were formulated in the Downing St policy unit and b) PiP also helped to procure an election losing manifesto in 2010. (more…)

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