Political

The Labour Party’s (would be) campaigning revolution

Labour’s current campaign organisation is far from a happy ship, with paranoia at the top and promised revolutions in technique being abandoned. Keen no doubt to try to correct things, the Fabian Society has a new pamphlet out, edited by the always interesting Marcus Roberts, called Organise! Labour’s campaigning revolution.

Any public document about campaign tactics this close to a general election necessarily has some positive gloss for the party it favours, so don’t take too seriously some of the blurb such as:

Where we once relied exclusively on expensive billboards, we can now use social media and community organising to engage and communicate with people.

There’s certainly some truth in that, but after the last general election, many key Labour figures quietly admitted that their talk then about new, cheap online campaigning replacing expensive old techniques was really just gloss on the state of their campaign bank balances. To be done well across the country, digital campaigning isn’t cheap either, especially when you remember to factor in the costs in the ‘hidden technology’ such as the voter databases that underpin really successful use of the high visibility free tools like Twitter.

Likewise, some scepticism should be applied to:

Organisationally, we are taking digital seriously, with, for the first time, a standalone digital taskforce for the next election.

Really successful digital campaigning isn’t standalone, it’s fully integrated, which makes this an odd way to boast about putting more effort into digital work.

In many ways it’s a rather unpolitical publication, despite its Fabian Society roots. Although it’s very much about fighting political elections, the tactics it sets out could be adopted by just about anyone – and indeed contain a distinct echo of those in 101 Ways To Win An Election and even Campaigning in your Community.

Quite a few different ideological labels could, for example, be inserted into the start of this sentence:

[XXX] is not just about using power to change communities but about giving power to communities so they can achieve the change they wish to see.

And this wise advice applies to all candidates:

You could use marked register information to divide your population into those who haven’t voted in any recent elections, those who have voted in all recent general elections, and those with intermittent voting records.

Once you have this sort of information, you can send more reminders to vote, or make more phone calls, to those with intermittent voting records than those whose turnout record is perfect. It’s all about ensuring you tailor your efforts to where they’re going to make the most impact, and get more return for your campaigning activity.

That makes it well worth a read, whatever your politics.

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