Posts Tagged ‘leaflets’

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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What now after Woolas? Is the campaign playbook facing a re-write?

11/11/2010, 12:00:00 PM

by Dave Collins

FROM the glorious revolution onward, “anything goes” has been the default position for British election literature, subject principally to the deterrence provided by England and Wales’ notoriously plaintiff-friendly defamation legislation. The Oldham East & Saddleworth judgement asks a lot of questions about whether this is going to continue. British political communications could be transformed.

UK election campaigns have a long record of controversy and allegations of skulldugery. A classic was the 1784 Westminster election in which supporters of the prime minister, William Pitt, backed by the palace, organised to oppose the return of star Whig politician, Charles James Fox, in the seat with the widest popular franchise in Great Britain. According to the Wikipedia entry, “both sides spent heavily, campaigned bitterly, allegedly libelled and slandered their opponents relentlessly and resorted to all kinds of tactics, including Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire touring the streets and, according to the opposition, kissing many voters to induce them to vote for Fox”.

Subtle. But does it constitute misrepresentation?

Following Fox’s victory by 6,233 votes to 5,998, a prolonged scrutiny of the votes (similar to Florida’s ‘hanging chads’ dispute in 2004) was used by the high bailiff as a pretext to delay making the return. Until finally, 10 months later, the House voted 162-124 against the government, in effect finding Pitt guilty of illicit intriguing against his leading opponent.

More contemporary controversies include Smethwick (1964), in which the Conservative candidate who defeated Patrick Gordon-Walker ran an openly racist campaign, employed the slogan “if you want a nigger for your neighbour – vote Liberal or Labour”. Victorious PM Harold Wilson promptly elevated Gordon Walker to the peerage and made him foreign secretary, while calling for the new MP, Peter Griffiths, to be made a “parliamentary leper”. Griffiths lost the seat in 1966, being kicked out by the voters rather than as the consequence of legal action.

In 1992 Gerald Malone, defeated in Winchester by just two votes, did go to court arguing that 55 ballots voided for lack of official mark should have been counted. He won the case and the election of Mark Oaten for the Lib Dems was voided. Oaten however went on to win the resulting by-election with a handsome 10,000 majority. This swing against Malone was taken by many as evidence that voters tend to react against attempts to overturn election results via the courts on technicalities and the 1992 Winchester by-election result, together with the costs incurred by both parties, have generally served to discourage similar cases ever since.

In the 1997 New Labour landslide, the election of Fiona Jones for Newark was overturned after she and her (volunteer) agent were found guilty by the high court of failing correctly to declare some costs on the expenses return and thereby exceeding campaign spending limits. Neither Jones nor her agent had expected to win and ran a rather shambolic campaign, directed equally toward the concurrent local elections in which the local Labour party did expect to be able to make gains. Not anticipating victory, they failed to budget for the campaign properly, or to track spending once it had started. Exactly like Phil Woolas, Fiona Jones was initially defended by Labour party solicitors, but dropped like a stone once convicted and disqualified on March 19th 1999. (more…)

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Phil Woolas sets the record straight to his CLP

22/09/2010, 03:53:09 PM

Phil Woolas

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Sam Bacon embraces the armchair activist

18/05/2010, 09:51:29 AM

It’s often said that things happen in threes; and so it proved for me during this election.  At three separate events, and with three distinct people, I had the same discussion about the party and its supporters.  And despite being at events intended to inspire passion and support for the campaign ahead, I left each one with a heavy heart and sense of defeat.  It wasn’t because the speakers were poor or I feared massive electoral defeat, but because the conversation kept revolving around the ‘problem’ of ‘armchair supporters’.

The general point being made was that these big set piece rallies were weren’t ‘real’ campaigning, and tended to attract an undue number of ‘armchair supporters’.  What we needed, or so the logic went, was committed, passionate, proper Labour supporters, not people who would come out to see a Minister speak, but wouldn’t knock on doors in the driving rain.  What right did they have to attend these events? And why did the party flirt with them like this?

Many will have encountered similar attitudes at Labour meetings, events and discussions.  You may even have thought – even said –  something similar.  But the election defeat should teach all of us who have time for such arguments one thing: if we’re ever going to experience victory like ‘97 again, we’re going to have to be the party of and for the people once again.  And that means taking all comers with whatever they bring to the table. (more…)

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