Talking politics with Westminster Liberal Democrats

Mark Pack talking with Westminster Liberal Democrats
Yesterday I went to talk to Westminster Liberal Democrats about campaigning lessons from the 2010 general election. As with several other parties I’ve spoken at recently, such as Greenwich, Woking, Merton, Battersea and Twickenham, there was a good sprinkling of people who have joined the party in the last year.

Increases of 30% or more in local party membership over the last year are quite common in London, with new members generally younger than average and also relaxed about the idea of the party being in coalition with someone else.

That’s a promising sign for the future, as has been the level of turnout at these meetings. There are plenty of people interested in talking about what their local party could or should do in future. Turning the talk and good intentions into action doesn’t come automatically of course, but in each local party there has been enough head of steam to get good work done.

One thing that has struck me is how rare it is to find someone from a neighbouring local party come along to such events. In geographically concentrated areas with low travel times, such as much of London, this seems to me to miss a trick. For the host local party it means they don’t get as many people in the room (and don’t sell as many raffle tickets!) as they might. For the ‘visiting’ local parties it means they miss out on the chance to have a fuller timetable of events for their members and supporters – without that local party having to actually put on any more events.

So here’s a quick trio of tips if you are involved in organising a local party event:

  • Get in touch with any other local parties within easy travelling distance and email over details. (Do this by email if you can, because it’s then very easy for that email to be simply forwarded on to others.)
  • Advertise the event via Facebook, FlockTogether and ACT. Which works best varies between local parties, largely dependent on which one happens to have a critical mass of local people using it. Use all three for a few times to cover all the options, and then when you see what’s working you can scale back.
  • If you have a guest speaker from nearby, ask them to let their friends, colleagues and so on know about the event too. Who knows, they may be able to attract along a few more people too?

And I will, of course, be suggesting these to the next local party I’m off to…

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