What books should you read to become a better campaigner?

That was one of the questions I was asked when taking part in a virtual book club meeting this weekend with Liberal Democrats in Hull and neighbouring areas.

Here were my four picks, looking to include – as the questioner requested – titles that are a little off the beaten track for political campaigning choices:

  • How to win friends and influence people – as, at heart, that’s what politics is about: Amazon / Waterstones.
  • Who decides? – or how to make the most of all those committees you will be hoping to end up on: Amazon / Waterstones. (May they be the Cabinet rather than the Joint States Calendar Coordination Committee, of course.)
  • The war with newts – this one just for fun; fiction with political overtones in the spirit of Animal Farm: Amazon / Waterstones.

Now over to you: what books would you recommend to someone wanting to become a better campaigner?

8 responses to “What books should you read to become a better campaigner?”

  1. Pick a Ward and Win It (ALDC)

    101 Ways to Win an Election (Pack)

    Politics Between the Extremes (Clegg)

    Free Radical (Cable)

    Why I am a Liberal Democrat (essays Ed Brack)

  2. Not just saying this just to please the author but 101 Ways to Win an Election is accessible and has lots of easy little points you can implement into your campaigning. The structure of short chapters makes it easy to refer back to during a campaign too.

  3. How to win a marginal seat by Gavin Barwell
    The Message Matters by Lynn Vavreck
    The Unfinished Revolution Philip Gould (personal favourite)
    Why the Tories Won Tim Ross
    All out War Tim Shipman

  4. A book I often recommend when people ask about party history and biographies but I think is also very relevant here is Penhaligon by Annette Penhaligon as it shows how David Penhaligon built up the seat and then held on whilst balancing local and national politics.

    Whilst this is electioneering, I do think it’s worth including. There’s been a party campaign manual at most general elections but I still think the one from 2001 is the best – Working on Winning by John Ault & Hilary Stephenson. Some of it is dated now and it’s pre-digital campaigning but it takes you step by step and goes in to practical detail on the how and the why. I think ALDC members can still download it from their website.

    Finally, a bit of a random one as it’s a freebie that was given away by what is now called Leadership Centre (https://www.leadershipcentre.org.uk/) but was Leadership Centre for Local Government at the time. It’s ‘Cabinet Member for Your Ward’ by Richard & Erica Kemp, Colin Eldridge and Billy Maxwell and it goes in to how to get things done as a really good grassroots campaigner and councillor at the heart of your community. I can’t find it on their website now but if you google it you can still download it. A much underrated publication.

  5. Bernard Greaves and Gordon Lishman’s “The Theory and Practice of Community Politics”

    Paddy Ashdown’s “Citizen’s Britain”

    There are books like Mark’s which tell you how to win elections, but we don’t just want to be better at winning elections than Labour and the Tories; we also need to know why we want to win elections. Both Greaves & Lishman and Ashdown express a characteristically Liberal ideology.

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