What sort of campaigning would people like to see?

Both Matt and I have an ongoing concern that internal elections rarely generate the kind of political discussion and interest that they deserve. Partly this is down to the lack of opportunity for candidates to put make their “pitch”, political, strategic, or personal. However partly it may also come from a certain amount of apathy on the part of the members themselves.

It may well be that many members feel much more a part of their local party than the national organisation (which might be healthy) but there does seem to be a lack of ‘ownership’ over the day to day operation of the national party by members. This is reflected in the attitude towards national level elections which rarely seem to cause more than a ripple in local parties despite the fact that they can have a profound impact on the party’s direction and effectiveness.

Let’s spin this as everyone being very satisfied with the job that’s being done and move on to the meat of the question.

 

What do we get?

In order for members to know who is standing, and what they stand for it’s important that they have the opportunity to get to know the candidates and their platforms. At the very minimum a member will receive their ballot papers with a booklet that has a page for each candidate for all the posts available.

We’ve also come to expect candidates for major posts to have some sort of external website and have made available their contact details, although who knows how many members actually bother to use them. These sites are ok, but generally the main thing they tell you is whether the candidate knows anything about web design (or whether they have any friends who do).

Two years ago there was a “Young Greens” hustings in London attended by about 40 people (from memory) which was the only hustings in the country for the deputy leader elections. As opportunities to put your thoughts to the candidates that is worse than thin.

 

So what do we want?

With candidate nominations opening today it’s worth putting the question out there – what do we want the candidates to do?

They have a spending limit (of about £900 for leader, £650 for GPEx) which no one has ever even vaguely approached spending. It does mean that mailing every member is not affordable, nor is phoning us all nor taking out a full page ad in the Guardian. Whatever we ask of them it will have to be done on a budget.

 

Here are  few suggestions and what needs to happen for it to occur

  • I’d like to attend a hustings with the candidates to put my questions to them.

There is some attempt to national coordinate hustings so that we can get the candidates to as many places as possible through July. If you want a hustings near you though you need to organise it. There’s no magic hustings elf dancing round the country doing this for us, unless you count my efforts to ensure that we at least do better than last time.

If you want your area to be part of the “tour” let me know. What you lose in flexibility on dates you gain in terms of the candidates actually coming.

  • I’d like to see videos of the candidates in action, at hustings or public events.

We’re intending to do some interviews for the election with every consenting candidate. We also hope hat some of the hustings will be Youtubed for your convenience. we’re sure that candidates with websites will also b putting up their video pitches, although nothing beats the feel of unexpected questions being put “live”.

  • I’d like to get extra mailings from the candidates to get a fuller picture of what they are about.

Well, that wold be good wouldn’t it? However, costs and data protection are not our friends on this occasion. While there may be some mail outs if the candidates are to keep within their spending limits then sadly it’ a postcode lottery.

  • I’d like to be phoned up by a candidate, or one of their supporters, to chat about their ideas.

Again, the rules allow this but tradition dictates that it’s unlikely to happen on any significant scale. Any candidate that manages a team of enthusiastic phone bankers gets my vote, but not all members see it that way.

  • I’d like to be emailed by the candidate through the campaign.

Surely more achievable you’d have thought. However, it may actually be less likely because of the way we handle the data internally. My recommendation to candidates is to create a “sign up” list on their website tat allows the candidates to spam everyone who has opted in. Other than that we’ll be down to the dreaded national internal email newsletter and that’s about it.

  • I’d like to discus the elections online with other members.

Now you are in luck. The members website is their for all to use, as is this website. You can also discuss the elections on internal lists, but take care. First of all if you decide to go negative you’ll probably hurt the candidate you think you are supporting. Second, members of the, say, animal rights list, may feel that off topic discussion is derailing the purpose of the list.

  • I’d like my local party to set aside time to specifically discuss the elections.

Again, this one is down to you. Get your local party to schedule a discussion in July (not June, August or September). This could be part of your regular meeting or a specially scheduled discussion for those particularly interested.

 

Feel free to suggest anything you think I’ve missed, but it would be really interesting to hear your suggestions on what you do and do not want to see as part of the national elections campaign. However, the main point to take away is that is the responsibility of all of us to get this discussion going, no one is going to do it for us.

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4 Comments

  1. mattsellwood

     /  02/06/2012

    Hey Jim. Re: phone campaigning….I like the idea too, but I read the rules as prohibiting this until there is an ‘opt in’ list compiled by Party Office. This doesn’t exist yet, so I don’t think we’ll be having phone campaigning, unless I missed something?

  2. I’ve read the rules and as far as I can see the rules don’t allow either email or phone contact unless people have opted in, and that isn’t going to happen before the campaign starts. So I can’t see how candidates can actually campaign outside of hustings and the internet…

  3. Sorry, that post was from Sam

  4. Actually I think that only applies to numbers handed over by the party.

    There is an issue that two years ago the party committed to do various things to create opt in but basically hasn’t lifted a finger to do so, but actually phoning members isn’t ruled out, just misusing data.

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