For many of us, the time since May 2 has been a bit odd. Over the last few years, this time of year has been for reflecting on a mixed bag of results, with well-deserved wins sitting alongside narrow misses and other infuriating outcomes that simply didn’t reflect the amount of effort put into the campaign.
This year it has been slightly different though, the results have given many of us good reason to smile and produced a few slightly startled new councillors!
There is a potential issue though. After the years of unrewarded hard graft, and the fact that we stepped straight out of that campaign and into one for the European elections, it is tempting to see this summer as a chance to enjoy the success and relax. Sadly, that’s the last thing we can afford to do.
Keeping our promise
Up and down the country, we repeat to residents that we are the party that doesn’t just turn up at election time, we keep in touch all year round. Now is exactly the time that we need to prove that. The old adage that a Focus in August is worth three in March is as true now as ever. That, of course, should be following your thank you leaflet.
Credibility, more than just about anything, is what voters are looking for in politics currently. We’ve said they’ll hear from us throughout the year, so they should. Especially in areas where we know that people who would not normally support us are willing to do so, based upon our local credentials, we must capitalise on being different from the other parties.
Giving a candidate time
In wards where we now have to select new candidates, there is a very good practical reason for starting the process as quickly as possible. Even if your candidate has some local profile, we only have until next May to get them to the level of name recognition that a successful candidate requires. We cannot fall into the trap of assuming that 2019’s results will make the 2020 local elections easier for us.
In my own home ward, it took us four years of sheer hard work to get an excellent candidate elected. To do that again, we have to condense all of that work into no more than 10 months. By completing the selection process in a timely manner, you are giving your candidate the very best opportunity to build their profile. We have spoken before about the importance of building a brand and how it can be done.
Those summer leaflets will be worth even more if they feature your new candidate – now is the perfect time to introduce them to the electorate.
Doorstep by doorstep
This is the simple answer I give when asked how Liberal Democrats win elections. Year after year, election after election, we see the correlation between the number of doors knocked in a campaign and the chances of a successful election. What is sometimes overlooked though is the link between winning and knocking doors in the early part of a campaign.
Yet, this makes complete sense. Remembering that it takes approximately 3 interactions with a message before it sticks in a person’s mind, it is entirely logical that the more a resident sees us, in particular the candidate, the more likely they are to engage with what we are saying.
Again there is a practical element to this. Starting early allows us to be cleverer about the amount of work we do and opens up the opportunity of doing bursts of door knocking following the ‘little but often’ concept, rather than slogging through an entire afternoon trying to reach unmanageable targets.
At ALDC we’re proud that we hold the welfare of candidates and activists as one of our highest priorities. Our Survival Guide is as relevant now as ever. Starting early and doing what is required in manageable chunks will benefit your entire team. You’ll also find it a lot less daunting and find less need to reduce your output.
Most of all, we should enjoy campaigning. Start now and prepare for success in 2020!