Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Championing Mutual Aid

I have always championed "Mutual Aid" or "Campaign Support" as it's now called. We are fortunate that in West Kent we have substantial resources behind us. In recent years we have provided coachloads of activists for almost every target parliamentary by-election, and in the run-up to May 2015 we provided around £20,000 worth of support (cash, printing and material support) to 40:40 target seats. It's the right and proper thing to do and something we are quite proud to continue.

What really irritates me however is when that support is always "one way". 

I won't cause embarrassment by naming and shaming, but four years ago West Kent provided over 1,500 'man hours' of support to two Greater London constituencies for the Mayoral campaign. This involved between 20-40 activists every month, including all five local MPs. Yet despite this support, neither of these Associations managed to muster a single offer of assistance when West Kent faced five local by-elections in recent years. They didn't even manage to make a GOTV phone call. The local organiser from one of these constituencies phoned me recently to ask if we would be helping them again for Zac Goldsmith's campaign, and I think he was a bit surprised to receive a firm NO. West Kent will, of course, be pulling its weight for Zac - but we will be doing it somewhere else.

In a recent Maidstone by-election the biggest single contingent of outside help came from Hastings - one of the smallest Associations in the South East. They came as a 'thank you' for the help we gave them a few months earlier. It was a kind and generous gesture - but also a good investment as the goodwill generated will certainly be reciprocated when needed.  Likewise a couple of people also came from Swanley and Ashford; again a welcome gesture and greatly appreciated. In terms of Ashford that help is already being reciprocated with WK volunteers assisting in this weeks by-election there. 

What matters is not the volume of help, but that someone has made the effort - and making the effort is what really makes the difference and builds goodwill. 

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