Saturday, 12 September 2015

Why activism matters, and the difference it can make

One of the things which most irritates me is when a candidate pompously declares, 

'Campaigning is a waste of time, it never changes anyone's mind'. 

There are several variations of this theme, including...
  • Canvassing does more harm than good
  • People will get angry if we knock on their door
  • One leaflet is sufficient, any more simply don't get read
  • Working on election day is pointless as people have made up their minds
There are two reasons such statements make me angry;

Firstly, stating 'campaigning is pointless' devalues and belittles my life's work and all I have tried to achieve over the last 25 years as an agent / campaigner. 

Secondly, by all means make such statements, but if you are going to do so at least have some evidence to substantiate your claim. (Interestingly, when challenged no-one has ever been able to do so.)

Worse still, when shown evidence to the contrary it is arrogantly dismissed with 'that might be the case in some areas, but  I can assure you that residents of my ward don't like it...'  Cutting to the chase, what they really mean but don't have the balls to say is, 'I am too idle to tramp the streets, so rather than admit I am lazy I will dismiss the evidence and hide behind faux intellectual arguments.'  

For the sake of all those activists who work tirelessly on our behalf and must sometimes wonder if it's all worthwhile, let's look at the stats behind the recent Fant by-election. 

Despite the best efforts of five political parties (plus a random independent) the overall turnout was a disappointing 26%.  However. if we drill down on those numbers a bit more an interesting picture emerges. Having spent five weeks knocking on doors and going back on the outs four times, we now have a pretty comprehensive database of VIs covering almost 65% of electors. From this we know 

The turnout of non-Conservative pledges was 21.5%
The turnout of known/identified Conservative pledges was 44%
Making an overall ward turnout of 26%

In other words, over twice as many known Conservatives turned out to vote as did voters overall. 

No doubt those who seek reasons not to campaign claim this all happened by accident. I beg to differ. It happened because a small army of volunteers gave freely of their time to identify those who might support us, then helped again to ensure those pledges knew how important their vote was and how much we needed them.

So here is a massive thank you to the 60+ volunteers who came to support our Fant campaign and whose hard work and commitment helped deliver victory for Matt Boughton. We really couldn't have won without you.

And to all those who 'don't believe' campaigning matters or makes a difference, please show a little more respect to all those volunteers who are willing to fight for what they believe in rather than taking success (and our supporters) for granted. 

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, I couldn't agree more with this post. I've heard all four of the above phrases.

    BUT I would add another common dynamic. You can have two seats/wards where everyone has worked their socks off in both. But Quentin's seat/ward is demographically much safer than the other one, has always been a safe Tory seat and so on. That is when it's frustrating to hear people say "Oh, I'll tell you what it is - no one else worked as hard as dear Quentin! And you see that in his result! Honestly, if you would just get out there campaigning in your patch you would see the same benefits!".