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  • Mark Pack
    Article: May 21, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

    Peering into the details and the patterns behind the Liberal Democrat performance in this May's local elections, one intriguing political opportunity presents itself. The party did best in shire district elections up against the Conservatives. There appear to be rich pickings for the party from Remain voters in such areas who are unimpressed by Brexit and unimpressed by the government's wider record.

  • Brexit awareness
    Article: May 15, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

    The latest round of regular European polling by BMG for Left Foot Forward once again shows the public is confused as to what the Brexit stance is of all the main parties. But there is a slight improvement in the Lib Dem position.

    Those Liberal Democrat figures show a slight improvement since the last time I covered this series:

  • Article: May 14, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

    Now that the local election are (nearly) over, it's worth remembering the good housekeeping tasks which wrap up the contest properly and help get the next campaign off to a good start:

    • 1. Get the election expense returns in on time. Even if you did nothing in a campaign beyond nominating a candidate, the paperwork still needs completing and returning.

    • 2. Recycle left-over leaflets and securely dispose of any left-over personally addressed literature. Top-tip: have at least two of you do this and take photos before doing so as there are rules about excluding undelivered literature from election expenses. It's therefore always a good idea to be able to prove what was disposed of after polling day.

    • 3. Take a leaf out of George Bush Senior's book and say thank you to helpers, candidates, councillors, donors and everyone else. In particular, don't forget the thanks to councillors who retired this time round and also to people who put up posters. In many areas the habit of putting up window posters has tailed away over the years, so thanking those who did and explaining why it's valuable that they did is a good way to start changing habits locally.

    • 4. Organise a campaign debrief session. It can be a good idea to get someone from outside the local party to moderate the session. That can really help with both ensuring everyone doesn't slip into group think on any key issues and also in helping navigate through any matters of local tension over what was done or why.

    • 5. Enter into the right computer system all those bits of data that didn't quite get fully processed during the rush of the election and then polling day. Whether it is extra scraps of data from polling day, information about emails which bounced or sorting out information stuck hurriedly into the Notes field in Connect, it can all add up to a considerable chunk of data.

    • 6. Once all your data is safely in the systems, tidy up where data is stored by deleting or shredding those original scraps of information so that they don't end up accidentally leaking personal data.

    • 7. Get the marked registers from the council. These show who voted and so are very valuable information for future campaigns.

    • 8. When you're ready to start planning the next campaign, there is of course my book 101 Ways To Win An Election. (If you've read the book and enjoyed it, a quick rating or review on Goodreads or Amazon would be fab - that really helps the book get seen by more people.)

  • Mark Pack
    Article: May 11, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

    There are no council by-elections this week, so here's an expanded re-run of my post about why contesting council by-election is always useful, even if winning looks improbable this time round.

    Not every by-election is worth fighting to win this time round. It may be the lack of past support for the party in the area combined with the shortness of notice before polling day. It may be the imminence of the next usual round of elections combined with the by-election being at odds with the targeting strategy for those said elections. It may be the exhaustion and low bank balance after another big winnable election.

    Whatever the reasons, sometimes the cool judgement is 'we've not got a chance of winning this one'.

    So what should you then do? It is something the party almost never does training or gives advice on. So here are four smart things to do. You'll notice that none of them are 'printing a few leaflets and deliver a bit of the ward'.

    First, stand a candidate. However unwinnable an election, it is a chance to help make a few more people long-term loyal supporters of the party.

    We need more long-term loyal supporters of the party. But telling such potential recruits, 'sorry, we refuse to let you vote for us' by not standing a candidate is the opposite of helping to create that core vote. It drives them away rather than help form the habit of voting for us. (Remember too that every voter gets to see if there is a Lib Dem logo on the ballot paper but most never come across the exact final result.)

    Second, use it as a training opportunity. The lower stress and risks of an election you know we aren't going to win makes for a much better opportunity for someone to learn to do something new and try it out for real for the first time.

    Here is the chance for a new person to try being an agent. Here is the chance of a new group of people to try out Connect's MiniVAN app. Here is the chance for any local party that is not overrun with too many able people willing to do everything to get bigger and better.

    Third, experiment. Try out something new and see if it works. What is, for example, the best trade off in terms of time, money and results for doing a residents' survey? Do you really know the answer based on data or do you decide how to do it based on who expresses their hunch most charismatically or insistently?

    Fourth, both the previous two steps require doing some campaigning. The benefits from this can be further extended by concentrating on gathering data with long-term benefits. Voting intention data for people in a non-target, non-winnable ward is of limited benefit.

    Calling on the former members in the ward to ask them about rejoining, that has much higher long-term benefits. Or concentrating on gathering email addresses so voters can be easily reached all through the electoral cycles with only minimal distraction from target areas.

    Four practical steps - and four steps which will make the next by-election in a weaker area an opportunity rather than another drag on time to endure.

  • Mark Pack
    Article: May 10, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

    As I analysed in some detail in the last Liberal Democrat Newswire, the Lib Dem performance in this year's local elections is a mirror of last year. Last year the headlines were poor (seat losses) but the details behind them promising (vote share up). This year the headlines were more than promising (seat and council gains) but the details behind them worrying (vote share down on last year and back down to 2011/12 levels*).

  • John Marriott
    Article: May 8, 2018
    By John Marriott in Liberal Democrat Voice

    Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

    These famous words, spoken by former Liberal, Winston Churchill, in 1942 after the second victorious Battle of El Alamein, could very well sum up where the Liberal Democrats find themselves after what many would see as a very satisfactory comeback after a few difficult years. But, as they say, one swallow doesn't make a summer. There is no guarantee that even moderate success at local elections will translate into success in a General Election. Despite the accusation of being currently a 'one trick pony', as Tim Farron, I believe, said, Lib Dems appear like locusts in their ability to survive a nuclear war - in this case a pincer movement between Tory and Labour. However, ironically, even with our defunct voting system and a poll rating of around 16%, which most Liberal parties around the world would die for, the kind of activity in certain parts of the country could produce some surprising results come the next Westminster election (which, given what passes for the present Brexit 'negotiations', could be sooner rather than later).

  • Article: May 1, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

    Well, people vote… and campaigners also campaign. If you're not used to political campaigning, what happens on polling day (and indeed the very fact that it's a super-busy day rather than the quiet day it usually is in the political news coverage) can be a bit of a mystery.

    So here is my list of the five main things campaigners get up to on polling day:

  • work computer business
    Article: Apr 27, 2018
    By Sanjay Samani and Richard Kember in Liberal Democrat Voice

    With one month to go until the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) the focus for many is rightly the local elections. The team at LDHQ is still working hard and we recognize the importance of breaking down the legislation into smaller chunks. So we have developed a short, three-step process for handling data:

  • Mark Pack
    Article: Apr 17, 2018
    By Mark Pack

    The annual council election predictions from Michael Thrasher and Colin Rallings are out, based on what has been happening in council by-elections.

    Vote share predictions: May 2018

    On vote share, they predict the Lib Dems to be static on last year, and hence up sharply on 2014 (the last time most of these seats were contested). For Labour and Conservatives, they predict a neck and neck tussle whilst for Ukip it's a picture of continued dramatic decline.

  • Article: Apr 15, 2018
    In ALDC

    If you plan on coming to one of our five 2018 training weekends, our early-bird discounted rates are running low.

    You need to act fast to book early-bird discounted rates, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    ALDC member price: £160 for a single room (usual price is £240) and £130 for a double room per person (usual price is £210). Non-ALDC member price: £280 for a single room and £250 for a double room per person. It's cheaper to join us and book our member rate.

    The weekends are held at Yarnfield Park in Staffordshire, a dedicated training centre with leisure facilities and a bar. All food and accommodation are included in the price, plus a three course dinner and guest speaker on the Saturday night.

    Kickstart Weekends, 6-8 July + 23-25 November

    The weekend caters for everyone; whatever your role in a campaign, and regardless of your experience. Come along to get tailored, professional advice; training and bespoke mentoring for your team from experienced Liberal Democrat campaigners and councillors. You'll leave having improved your campaigning skills and with a well-developed campaign plan ready for your next set of elections.

    Find out more, watch a promo video + book >>>

    PagePlus Masterclass, 6-8 July

    Taking place alongside Summer Kickstart, we'll be running a PagePlus masterclass for people new to using the programme or in need of a refresher. The course will include an introduction and cover basic techniques, how to download and use ALDC templates, and you'll create a leaflet using materials we provide. There will also be training in literature as well as classes on messaging and photos.

    Find out more + book >>>

    LGA/ALDC Councillors' Weekend, 6-8 July

    Running alongside our Summer Kickstart is our joint event with the LGA Lib Dem Group. The weekend is packed full of sessions focused on improving your skills in your important roles as both a Liberal Democrat councillor and a campaigner. The training includes: how to be an effective councillor, managing casework, political influencing, scrutiny and a Facebook advertising masterclass with Mark Pack.

    Find out more + book >>>

    Agents' Training, 23-25 November

    Taking place alongside our Autumn Kickstart weekend, we've developed a course to take prospective election agents through the process of being an agent in local elections. The course is suitable for complete beginners, but will also be relevant for those who want to bring their knowledge up to date. The legal framework we operate in continues to develop and so up to date training is vital for all agents.

    Find out more + book >>>

    The weekends provide an opportunity to meet and network with like-minded Lib Dems, who want to campaign hard to get the best deal for their communities.

    I hope to see you at one or more of our events this year.

    Best wishes,

    Cllr Neil Fawcett
    Development Officer, ALDC