This week the party launched, ‘Our Plan to Stop Brexit’. This article sets out the work and achievements of our campaign so far and, crucially, sets out targets for the next month, namely:
- Reach half a million EU nationals to encourage them to register to vote in local elections
- Deliver leaflets with our messages to one million homes
- Write to 100,000 key voters to encourage them to take action and support our campaign
- Target two million people with adverts online to add to our 250,000 campaign supporters
These are the sort of ambitious targets that we should be talking about and the strength of our campaigner base makes them deliverable.
So what should we expect when we engage with people on the doorstep about Brexit?
There are a few caveats to put in place here. Doorstep conversations on Brexit will differ depending on location – it only takes a glance at the evening news, especially if contrasting the local with the national, to see the differences. The second is that there is an inbuilt assumption in this article that every conversation we have on the doorstep aims to increase that person’s likelihood of voting Liberal Democrat. Whilst some people argue that we should engage with all voters equally, I’m starting from the premise that we’re talking to people for whom there is a realistic prospect of support.
There is no big secret in the fact that, in some areas, Brexit has not been the go-to topic on the doorstep. This may again stir up some controversy but for those of us knocking in Leave supporting areas, it’s been difficult to make a good case for the tactical benefits of bringing it up.
As campaigners, you know your audience. Whether or not you start up a conversation about Brexit has to be a judgement call for you. We shouldn’t be afraid of it though, we have a clear message on Brexit – far more than any other major party. When we have something to say on a matter, we should be willing to.
And if they raise it?
Sometimes the resident will get to a topic before we can. Again, if that is Brexit, this isn’t something to worry about. What we can’t do is change Lib Dem policy (not on the doorstep anyway). We’re an openly and proudly pro-EU political party who support a People’s Vote and would scrap Brexit. Whilst we may emphasise different aspects of this depending on the direction of the conversation, and there is nothing wrong in giving your opinion, the party’s Brexit policy is clear and shouldn’t be misrepresented.
As with any issue on the doorstep, ultimately a bit of honesty is your best option.
Lectures don’t help anyone
I suspect that former and current organisers alike will be with me on this point, but it’s not always an easy one to take on as campaigners. Whether we are agreeing or not, 20 minutes spent at the same door is rarely an efficient use of time.
As important as the ability to end a conversation with a Brexiteer who wants to give you chapter and verse is, holding back from delivering our own diatribe is a vital skill.
So, who are they voting for?
There are staunch Leave supporters, as strong or stronger in their belief now as they were in 2016, who will vote Liberal Democrat in the local elections on May 2. As well as making for an interesting political landscape, this also makes voter identification vital. It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that only anti-Brexit voters will support us. There are a myriad of reasons that people will be supporting us in May and we need to be open to all of them.
Always ask the question – who are they voting for? You may be pleasantly surprised.