The two best things to read about other parties this weekend

Firstly, the Conservative Party’s problems with election databases:

The party had been trying to get rid of its frail database Merlin, which keeps breaking during by-elections and at other crucial moments, in time for the General Election. But it hasn’t quite managed it yet, and is instead running Merlin alongside a new, but not fully-tested, database called VoteSource.

Candidates in target seats say VoteSource is currently working for them, but that it is lacking some of the functions it was supposed to have by this point and they do not know how it will cope with big changes in data. They are running their data on both Merlin and VoteSource in case one breaks. One constituency campaign team is considering reverting to keeping its data on a card system in case both break.

When I covered Votesource before I was clearly pre-emptive in talking about Merlin’s demise, as indeed was one Conservative association:

Conservative local association on Votesource

Secondly, an account of the Green Party’s surge by one of their activists:

It’s always hard to look back in time and determine exactly when something started. One key date which sticks out in my mind is February 23 2013.

On that day, in Nottingham, 71% of delegates to the Green Party spring conference voted to replace the party’s Philosophical Basis – the preamble to its constitution. The new one, penned by members of the University of York Young Greens, was seen to put more emphasis on social justice than the version it replaced…

The new philosophical basis, of course, wasn’t a cause of the explosion in membership – few will have read it before signing up. It was an effect of other changes, of a more sluggish heaving which built a base upon which the current growth could take place. And it wasn’t just the product of the student Greens at York, though their youth symbolised a generational shift. It was the culmination of years of work, done by hundreds of members, to build a Green Party ready to face the future.

The fact that it passed with such an overwhelming majority was telling: it was a clear signal that the average member was now as much an anti-austerity activist as she was a climate change campaigner; as keen on defending the NHS as saving the rainforest. The party is increasingly seen not as a single issue environmental pressure group, but the electoral expression of the emerging new left.

One point of detail worth noting in the comments on the piece:

Green Party online direct debits

Why do I single this out? Because in the Liberal Democrats the English Party took years and years to make progress on introducing online direct debits for membership. (The Scots and Welsh weren’t fast movers either but the English Party was the key player in this.) A telling sign of the difference that reforming the English Party would make to the Liberal Democrats.

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