Whether you have local elections or not in 2023, the weeks in the run up to the Christmas holidays are a really important time for us as campaigners and councillors. For people of all faiths, or no faith, it is a definite point in the year when we can connect with our communities in a positive and caring way.
Christmas Cards & Calendars
ALDC has some practical tools to help you connect with residents in your area – with deadlines fast approaching please take a look at our Bulk buy deal for Christmas Cards and Calendars.
I use them myself, to bring a bit of cheer, and to remind people who their local councillors are and that we are here to help all year round. Christmas cards are a fantastic opportunity to involve volunteers to hand write envelopes too – getting them ready for all the envelopes you’ll be asking them to write for blue letters to postal voters during next year’s elections!
You should also make sure you write Christmas Cards (and possibly buy small presents for) members and activists in your ward who help with delivery, clerical jobs etc. For wards and local parties with lots of members ALDC also has a Bulk buy deal for Christmas Cards to members.
Some people like to put on a small Christmas social event for their local members and helpers too.
Don’t Stop Campaigning
This is a great time to connect with residents, and to show you are active all year round not just at election time. Until the New Year is out of the way it is entirely plausible to say;
“There aren’t elections for some time yet. We are just out talking to residents to say hello and see if we can help with anything. It’s what we do as Liberal Democrats – work in our communities all year round, not just at election time.”
At this time of year that message really resonates with people, and if you have not tried it before now is the time to give it a go.
It is said that every direct voter contact before Christmas is worth twice that after the New Year, and who would not want to make the best use of their time? It’s a time when people are perhaps more open to talking to you on the doorstep – and when you can make a really excellent impression.
From a campaigning point of view, there is also some truth to the notion that the first political party residents come into direct contact with is the party they will have the most positive view of. Even for voters who always vote Conservative, Labour, Green or for some local independent, you are likely to give them a good impression of you and our party if you knock on their door to say hello and listen to them.
For those of us with elections next year, we must use these conversations to ask voters if they know who they will vote for when elections do come around. This could be an opportunity to introduce yourself as someone who will be standing, when elections are finally held, or to have a chat about the political landscape a bit more widely. As at all times of year, a great first ask is “if there were an election tomorrow who would you vote for?” Great conversation opener, and at this time of year you may find people are more likely to engage with you.
Cost of Living Support
This year, as the Cost of Living Crisis is impacting so many people in our communities, you may well have conversations with residents who are struggling. Christmas could be an especially concerning time of year for them. Families could be worried about how they are going to afford their Christmas shopping, additional heating and lighting for cold days and dark nights at home, and how they are going to put food on the table.
We cannot solve all their problems, but we can be empathetic and caring, and we can give information about local support services, charities and others who are providing practical help at Christmas. You could use a Focus, a Direct Mailing or an Information Sheet to provide this information to people. It is also a good time to use social media and emails to keep people up to date with the support that is out there over Christmas period.
This is all part of the role of councillors and campaigners as trusted sources of information. It’s a demonstration that we care, and that as Liberal Democrats we do more than wring our hands (as some other parties might do), we try to find solutions and sources of help.
The run up to the Christmas and New Year holidays are a really great time to be out there in your community. ALDC is happy to be able to help with this. Season’s Greetings to you all.
I don't find asking the voting Intention question is a good way to start a conversation. I generally ask a more general and 'empathetic' opener - especially with a Cost of Living Crisis on many peoples' minds. I think it is crass to appear to ignore that.
But I agree with carrying on door knocking until Xmas is almost upon us - and definitely with stating early.
However I don't think a lot of leaflets at this time (esp. from mid Dec) is a good idea. Get them all out before the Xmas mail is what I tell my deliverers.
Thank you for your comments Tony. Forgive me for not being entirely clear. Asking voting intention is a good opening question once you have started the conversation and are moving in to the data collection part of it. I agree that the political ask is not the best thing to start with - but it is as important to ask for voter intention at this time of year as it is at any other time of year.
Leaflets with information about support that is available may well be appreciated by residents in the run up to Christmas, as the colder weather kicks in and budgets are squeezed further. The hope is that Focus or Newsletter delivery is all done by the middle of December at the latest - and any Christmas cards including councillor contact details and offer of help follow that. We seek to be trusted sources of information, and also to offer a helping hand. Both have a role to play at this time of year.
When doorstepping I introduce myself and then ask if there are any local problems or issues the residents would like to raise, or if they cant think of anything highlight something I think is a concern, only then do I ask them who they normally support.