There is a huge pool of volunteer labour that could help the party do well next May. But will it be well used?

Westminster Liberal Democrats campaigning on the high street with a whiteboard

During the week I went to speak at a Westminster Liberal Democrats event. The local party is typical of many across London which pose a particular opportunity/challenge (delete according to your mood) to the party.

Only limited electoral success for the party in the area in the past.

Huge surge in members in 2015-16.

Promising signs of progress but no big electoral breakthrough in the 2018 local elections. (Particular kudos to Westminster for doing brilliantly at standing candidates this time.)

A good attitude towards trying things that are not in the conventional party playbook (such as the use of whiteboards – as in the photo above).┬áLots of keen people wanting to be active.

And now – with local elections only every four years in London – the question of how to keep people engaged with activity building up towards the next council elections so that when they come round there are all the benefits of four years of solid activity to help propel a breakthrough.

Or, in other words, how to help more places be like Merton.

That is both down to the local team and to how the rest of the party supports such teams. It’s also an issue the party outside London should be particularly interested in because with over 1 in 5 party members living in London, it is the largest pool of extra volunteer labour in the party which could help win marginal wards in next May’s crucial elections outside London, many of which are within reasonable travel time of London.

Supporting local parties in London at keeping going through the classic post-all out elections dip in activity isn’t just about our future success in London, it’s also about our future success outside London too.

So here is a suggestion if you are a local party outside but close to London with elections next May: grab a local party in London to pair up with and offer mutual support. You may well have experience and skills to share – especially if you’ve been winning elections rather more than many London boroughs have recently.

I think it would be great if the party systematically organises such pairing up (as the email inboxes of some people who’ve had missives from me on this demonstrate…!). But we don’t need to leave it to anyone else to organise.

That is, after all, the liberal approach.

3 responses to “There is a huge pool of volunteer labour that could help the party do well next May. But will it be well used?”

  1. With phone canvassing the wards don’t need to be near London. PS any London member wants a holiday in Devon in April, give us a call.

  2. I live in Merton (Wimbledon).

    We went from 1 councillor to 6 councillors, all new councillors.

    This was due to 3 things.
    1 We had some outstanding leaders/organisers

    -Cllr Anthony Fairclough, who had weekly timelable + he identified all the important local issues + Anthony is well known locally for solving residents problems –

    cllr Hina Bokhari, the daughter of Naz Bokhari, the first muslim secondary headteacher in Britain & Sadiq Khan’s headteacher. Cllr Bokhari worked her socks off electioneering and has a wonderful way of empathising with the residents. –

    M-J (Mary Jane) Jeanes who knew everyone & all the local issues & helped residents in West Barnes with their problems and local problems like litter & cracked paving. –

    Cllr Prof. Paul Kohler who took on the Mayor of London over the proposed closure of Wimbledon Police station & won. – Simon McGrath, long time LibDem activist, who is always jolly worked his socks off and also organised everthing.

    2 LibDem had all the the best ideas. Conservative & Labour literature was rubbish. We put out a lot of literature very frequently to all residents.

    3 We had lots of activists who worked hard.

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