7 Responses to Four million conversations

  1. Rob Brown says:

    I think persuasion is hugely important. I certainly don’t think campaigning is just about finding our support and getting it to turn up. However I do not see the canvassing as playing the role of persuasion (certainly not in my campaigns). The persuasion should be done through the media, through policy and through evidenced action in local groups/associations (which I know you do). Once people see action they are more likely to be persuaded whereas I don’t think I ever changed someone’s mind for more than a day or two on the doorstep.

  2. Speaking at a rally in Manchester tomorrow morning, Ed Miliband will announce that Labour activists across the country will make four million face to face doorstep conversations with the public in the four months until election day. The target – around twice the number of “voter id” contacts made in the same period in 2010 – will be made across the country, but with a focus in the party’s 106 target seats.LabourList.org 4 January 2015

    As you say “Why wait till now to announce this?”, but also “Why focus on 106 target seats”?

    Because nowadays and with our current political system to win you have to persuade those who matter – swing voters in marginal seats in will be treated as if they are in a by-election. Outside the Marginals we don’t matter – and arguably if we want a particular result we should understand why we are irrelevant. Activists should be taken on day trips to campaign in the marginals and elsewhere if you are not the incumbent you do the minimum.

    Short term it makes sense. Long term it is very corrosive of our political system and leads to the nonsense of us thinking we elect Prime Ministers rather than representatives. Hence “Presidential” leaders’ debates are becoming a dominant part of our electoral process and local meetings and candidates are becoming increasingly irrelevant. We no longer partake in the democratic process, we are invited to consume it.

  3. It does leave many of us in a quandary. Do we abandon our own voters to ensure victory elsewhere, or do we stand and fight in the hope that we will chip away and chip away until we get within sight of success?

    Targeting self-perpetuates the ‘we cannot win around here’ argument, as we are expected to all but cede the territory without a fight.

    Add in local elections and we get quite a complex picture, as we ponder whether we can make gains in the council chamber, and whether these gains come at too high a cost.

    Roll on electoral reform ….

  4. It does leave many of us in a quandary. Do we abandon our own voters to ensure victory elsewhere, or do we stand and fight in the hope that we will chip away and chip away until we get within sight of success?

    But how will you feel if after the General Election you have decreased the majority in Southend West by a little bit more than the amount that Polly Billington fails to get elected in Thurrock?

    Likewise how will your Conservative opponents feel if they have put work into successfully defending their majority in Southend West with a majority increased by more than the amount but which they lose Thurrock?

    Possibly a similar argument can be made about Lib Dems and Colchester – but perhaps the Conservatives determination to win back Clacton will mean their activists will go there rather than Colchester! “Carswell saves Russell”!

    The argument unfortunately applies everywhere where there are marginals surrounded by “safe seats”.

    The trick surely (and having been specific above I do not expect you to feel able to agree) is to put up paper candidates in your opponents’ safe seats and do just enough work to not be accused of being a paper candidate – and any work done should be in your target council seats. Then the activists all go off to the target seats.

    One trouble with this is that being a paper candidate is lonely and uncomfortable because even though it serves your party well it is dispiriting and potentially humiliating on a very personal level. The other problem is that paper candidates can get carried away and think they may pull off a shock win – and start pulling in family and friends to work for them and that then escalates to activists doing the same!

    Roll on electoral reform ….

    Agreed, the idea that all parties have something to fight for and that all voters have someone to vote for seems so obvious! Parties claim to be all in favour of diversity – except when it comes to representation.

  5. Four Million Conversations has just featured on Radio 4 the Now Show – to be repeated Saturday at 12:30!

  6. Pingback: Canvassing | Outside the marginals

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