I am left wholly exhausted by the pace of the campaign around here. No time for blogging I’m afraid – will get back to it after the election.
Posts Tagged ‘Campaigning’
The day didn’t actually start particularly well. I was faced with dastardly Liberal Democrats leafleting outside the tube station at ten to eight this morning.
“Oh no!” I thought, “they’ve got momentum! And as everyone knows, politics is all about the mo-men-tum! They’re out leafleting and I barely had time to brush my teeth properly before setting off for work. We’re doomed!”
However, reflecting upon the situation on the escalator I thought about how inefficient leafleting Angel tube station is when you’re trying to target Islington South and Finsbury voters. Half the people going there have got off buses from Underground-deprived Hackney.
Therefore, Foxy Bridge was simply wasting lots of paper. Let’s hope for the sake of the planet that people recycle her propaganda.
Melancholy returned at the news that the councillors would have attend a tenants’ association meeting and wouldn’t be able to come canvassing tonight. In fact, it looked like it would just be me and one other comrade. This would not have been momentum-tastic, to say the least.
Yet come 6.30 one of the councillors had decided he could join in the door-knocking, plus we got the MP and people from her office along and another local member unexpectedly turned up. Woop woop!
To top it off, the reception was good. Hardly any self-identifying Liberals (as usual), a handful of Tories, but lots of people remaining loyal to Labour. Some of these folk seemed to be even more dementedly pro-Labour than me! It was great!
Momentum is here and hopefully it’s here to stay. Tomorrow we visit Bevan Street. I will get stroppy with any resident of Bevan Street who does not plan on voting Labour and suggest they move to Thatcher Avenue (or something like that).
Being inundated with thousands of leaflets which require folding and delivering over the next seven days does not make me very receptive to emails like this:
Young Fabians 50th Year Event
Election Special with Lord Neil Kinnock
This is a reminder of our Election Special event tomorrow – Lord Kinnock in conversation with the Young Fabians. There is still time to book your place at the event.
I’m pleased to announced that former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Oona King, will be chairing the event.
Lord Kinnock will be answering your questions about his time as Labour leader, the fight ahead for Labour at this general election, and the importance of young activists in holding Cameron’s Conservatives to account between now and polling day.
When will organisers of events like this realise that the time for chitchat is over! If I had my way I would have imposed a ban on any Labour affiliates holding conferences, discussion forums and suchlike from January.
Instead of going to meetings to talk about the election campaign it would be much better for these “young activists” to spend their evenings in their nearest marginal constituencies making themselves useful.
I’m sure most of them do indeed help out with campaigning efforts, but assuming that people only have a limited amount of time they are able/willing to devote to Labour-related stuff it is pointless for them to use up an evening listening to Kinnock waffle (as inspiring as that waffle may be) when they could be doing something more practical…
For example, they could fold and deliver leaflets!
After a hard day’s work out on the doorsteps, it was good to come back and read today’s Guardian report outlining Ed Miliband’s promise of a “radical manifesto”.
Of course it’s never going to be as radical as your average Labour activist would want, but I was pleased to see that the younger Miliband brother’s was not talking about something dull like a ‘radical’ reform of choice in public service provision, for example.
Instead he’s hinting at boosts in the minimum wage, looking at expanding free school meals, and thinking about setting up a People’s Bank. I’d welcome these policies as they’d play well on the doorstep in my parts.
Ed Miliband has been asking for Labour types to email him with views on what should go into the manifesto. Whilst I would point out that party policy should ideally be decided through a democratic process, I’d be happy to drop him an email expressing support for these suggestions.
The other thing I’d like to see would be a firm committment to reducing inequality of wealth. Maybe I’ll mention that to Ed and see what happens.
We need to show that Labour hasn’t run out of ideas and that there are clear differences between us and the other parties. If Ed Miliband is to be believed, Labour’s manifesto may well be fit for purpose.
Maybe I sneered too soon at the Lib Dims.
Today I am annoyed by:
1) The PM condemning the BA workers’ strike. It looked like he was only doing it because the Tories told him to. The Government should have maintained its public neutrality on the matter. The fact that Unite provides Labour with much-needed funds cannot be dismissed as a consideration when deciding the Government’s approach on this.
2) Labour MP Laura Moffat announcing that she is standing down. This is a painfully unfunny joke – an MP saying that she’s quitting only eight weeks before the (probable) election. I hope that she pays for all the leaflets printed with her name and photo on them. Perhaps she can find someone else called Laura Moffat with a passing resemblance who can replace her? I’ve heard that her constituency party were treating her appallingly and she couldn’t stand it anymore. What a total mess; very dispiriting.
3) Labourites organising discussion meetings. With a general election just around the corner, I can’t believe that there are members of the Labour Party who still have time to organise chit chats rather than organise canvassing or leaflet deliveries. London Young Labour is holding an event in Portcullis House in the evening of Wednesday March 31st entitled ‘How do we win the General Election?’ Here’s a clue: CANCEL THE MEETING AND TAKE EVERYBODY TO THE NEAREST MARGINAL SEAT TO KNOCK ON SOME DOORS. I am similarly annoyed with the Fabian Society for doing similar things.
The door had garlic hanging above it, which is always a clue of mentalism. We were not disappointed.
“Yes?” says the resident opening his door, a man of Chinese extraction.
“Sorry to bother you. We are calling round on behalf of the local Labour Party. This is one your councillors.”
“Labour? I vote National Front! I’m fed up with the Muslims blowing things up! Hahahaha. But good luck!”
Here’s my analysis of tonight’s canvassing session:
- Poor turnout. It was just me and one comrade so we didn’t get much done.
- We were canvassing next to a busy road and could hardly hear anything.
- Not many people were in.
- Not many people identified as enthusiastic Labour.
- It wasn’t raining.
- No one identified as enthusiastic Lib Dems or Tories.
- My fellow canvasser told an Italian lady that since she was a citizen of the EU she was entitled to vote in the local election. Upon being asked which party she usually voted for in Italy, she replied: “Anyone on the far-left”. She then said that she would be happy to vote Labour in May. Woop! We’re securing la vota communista!
- Equally amusingly, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate walked past and clearly wasn’t happy to see us. Woop woop!
There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Guardian: ‘Labour party is major force for alienation in Britain’s big cities’. Some US activist person working in Manchester has claimed that someone like Barack Obama would not have been able to succeed in rising up through the Labour Party.
I agree that a rigid party structure can be off-putting to some people. Every Labourite has come across plenty of internal party rules-obsessives who seem to take delight in lecturing new members about all the boring stuff involved in political organisation.
I also accept that there are plenty of local Labour parties across the country that are lacking in any sort of dynamism. In places with populations where ‘people would vote for a monkey wearing a red rosette’ etc it is too easy for the Labour Party to become the conservative-minded establishment.
Whatever the result of the upcoming election, I have no doubt that the Labour Party will need to concentrate more on rebuilding its roots in community networks and recruiting more people to its activist base.
However, apart from these general points, there’s a lot in the Guardian piece that I find irritating.
For one thing, James Purnell’s former special adviser is quoted as saying “James was interested in doing something different because he felt that the Labour Party had given up on organising and emancipating people”. The born-again grassroots activist Purnell is apparently going to work with the campaigners at London Citizens.
To say that the Labour Party has given up on organising people is a bit dismissive of all the party organisers up and down the country who have worked hard to give people like Mr Purnell his job in Parliament.
And whilst I like any example of gay rights campaigners and Muslim clerics working together on something, I’m always a bit sceptical of unelected people from religious groups saying “politicians have to listen to us, to negotiate with us”.
I do not accept that a better form of democrat community organising is to hand over more influence to religious figures and to undermine the role that political parties can play. While on this subject, there’s a post over at HP about Islamist entryism in East London that everyone should have a look at.
Political parties are not the ‘end all’ of political organising, but I don’t think we should give up on them. Internal party reforms to encourage greater openness and to make membership more meaningful may be needed – yet I would still prefer to retain party structures rather than surrender too much political space to potentially less democratic forces.
One of the highlights of last night’s canvassing session was knocking on the door of a resident with the vaguely familiar name of ‘Mr Gordon Brown’. I was very keen to find out whether he was a Labour supporter or not.
Unfortunately Mr Brown was not in last night so I had to make do with leaving him some leaflets. However, I am determined to return soon! Hopefully he will not be massive grump who screams profanities at me whilst wearing a towel or who throws mobile phones in the direction of bad news.
By the way, the canvassing results last night were very positive. The only person to mention the ‘Bully-gate’ story was a voter who thought that it was the press who were bullying the Prime Minister and that they should lay off the personal attacks.
Half the people we spoke to identified as Labour. All the rest were undecided. No-one admitted to being a committed Lib Dem/Tory voter. Everyone appreciated that the upcoming election would be very close and that voting was important. If we can keep this up, we’ll have a chance of scraping through in Islington…
This weekend I attended some Labour campaign training. The best bit about it was hearing a comrade who works in the party’s Election Strategy Unit link our local efforts to the bigger picture.
Apparently the last few months have seen a sudden increase in the number of people not only joining the party but also going out knocking on doors for Labour up and down the country. This fella then highlighted all the quantitative evidence demonstrating that people are much more likely to vote for the party whose activists make face-to-face contact with them in the months before an election.
This is especially true amongst working-class voters, and Mr Election Strategy did not hesitate in saying that a lot of the party’s energy is going to have to be focused on motivating these people and making sure they get to the polls on May 6th.
He sounded very confident in declaring that the Conservatives are not going to break above 40%; that voter turnout is going to increase in this election; that Lord Ashcroft’s money isn’t a substitute for having enthused and committed activists going out canvassing; and that setting clear dividing lines between Labour and the Tory policy will rally more people to the red flag, so to speak (not his words but my interpretation!).
It all sounded very determined and it made me think that even if the prospects of Labour victory still seem very remote at least the party can put up a good fight and minimise any Tory majority in the Commons – if they’re lucky enough to get one at all!
However, I’m still concerned that:
a) This Election Strategy bloke working at Labour HQ had to admit that it was only an assumption that the general election would be held on May 6th. The Prime Minister could still make the slightly *CRAZY* decision to hold it on another date. Gordon’s decision-making has not always been great.
b) It seems that whilst election strategists working for Labour may recognise the importance of having some clear red water between us and the Tories, certain members of the Cabinet do not do a very good job of emphasising great distinctions between the parties. I’m thinking of people who are apparently horrified by the mooted ‘Labour investment versus Tory cuts’ strategy. Policy fudges and surrendering too much ground to the Tories on deficit reduction will make it difficult to present a clear message to our supporters.