Best Practice: Campaigning from scratch in a new area

Guest post by Hazel Grove Constituency Organiser Charles Gibson. 

Many Liberal Democrat campaigners will be, rightly, looking ahead to the 2020 General Election and many of you, will be in seats that stand to be changed by the boundary review.

In Greater Manchester we face many significant changes to our boundaries. In Hazel Grove Constituency where I am the Organiser we stand to lose two wards and gain four new wards from neighbouring Hyde and Longdendale. If the boundary review is successful we expect this to make up half of our new constituency – Marple and Hyde.

Hyde and Longdendale has not historically had a big Liberal Democrat presence and the four wards we’ll be representing have 15 members in total and no activity in recent years. Whilst that presents difficulties it also brings great opportunity. Much of the area is like our existing constituency where we are already successful, and Tameside has been governed for a long time by a Labour party who pay little attention to local people.

We set out to plan our first goals and how we would achieve them.

Firstly, we needed data and a deeper understanding of the issues facing local people in Tameside. We decided to do an addressed piece of direct mail (to increase readership), including a cover letter from our candidate Lisa Smart and a survey (you can find links to these here). We decided a letter would be a nice way to introduce Lisa and the survey would help us better understand the issues facing local people in Hyde and Longdendale.

The main challenge we faced, was delivering to 18,000 Hyde residents on top of all 6 wards in our existing constituency. We decided we didn’t have the capacity to deliver an extra 18,000 leaflets in a timely manner so instead we’d get them posted. That meant we’d have to raise roughly £8,000, we had a target and went out and raised it.

The survey was a resounding success we received over 300 responses, including 6 new deliverers and 2 new members. The information we received helped us to build up a picture of the issues in the area and peoples likely voting intention going forward. I’m very positive about the survey and I recommend it as a way in for people breaking new territory.

We also engaged with local members, by phoning to invite them out for a drink, which was well attended with lots of enthusiasm for getting started on a positive plan for Hyde and Longdendale. We even found that some of the attendees where interested in being Councillors for their area. We’ll be hosting a LGA – ALDC ‘Be a Councillor’ event in Stockport to let them know more about what that entails.

Finally, we’ve been able to use some of the big messages we already understood with increasing certainty that they work. For example, in Greater Manchester there is a plan to build an enormous number of homes, effecting green belt across the area. We’ve worked in conjunction with the Liberal Democrat Mayoral campaign, joining protest marches about the green belt and starting joint petitions.

Get hold of Charles’ work here –

Survey PDF or Survey Pageplus

Letter PDF or Letter Pageplus

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