UK snap election filter: what's the best use of my time?
April 20, 2017 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I want more than anything for any or all of the more left-leaning parties edge out the Tories in the upcoming election, however unlikely it seems. Do you have a decent understanding of politics and campaigning in the UK? If so, can you advise me on what's the best thing to use my time on?

It seems like there's a ton of stuff I could do, but a lot of it seems so desperately ineffective. For example, canvassing - has anyone's mind actually ever been changed by people ringing their doorbell when they're busy doing something else wanting to talk about politics? Same goes for the phone banks that several parties are doing. Leafleting seems like it might give people more time to take in the information, but I tend to bin all the ones I get, isn't that more likely to happen and therefore waste a ton of paper?!

Aargh. I want to do something, but I don't know what, and I don't have a ton of time to give. If you're involved in this stuff and know how it works, please give me your suggestions!
posted by greenish to Law & Government (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I live in Scotland. We've seen huge changes up here and I can tell you exactly how they started happening: people began talking politics with everybody else. People realised that politics mattered.

has anyone's mind actually ever been changed by people ringing their doorbell

Yes. It's a known thing. Most people are disengaged from politics ("they are all the same, right?"). Men in suits on the telly DO all look & sound the same but hearing about politics from a real human being that looks & sounds like you makes a difference.

Getting the vote out is superimportant.
posted by kariebookish at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

A lot of campaigning effort is wasted effort but nobody knows which parts. As kariebookish says, the GOTV aspect is important even if nobody's mind is changed. If you want to get involved with campaigning you kind of have to accept that you may not be doing the optimal thing because there's no way to know what that is. Pick a party you don't find objectionable and that has a chance of winning near you and help the campaign for their candidate.

If you are really short of time, but have some spare money, that is equally important to running campaigns.

If you want to do something at a slightly more abstract level in terms of making sure the process works well, you could look at Democracy Club - they do a lot of good work pulling together information about candidates, campaigns, and pretty much everything UK election related.
posted by crocomancer at 12:34 PM on April 20, 2017

Not involved in politics but I do remember reading this excellent book by the election strategist Philip Gould. He covers in detail six general elections of the Labour Party and where they went wrong or right. Many of his theories could be applied to today's Labour Party.

The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever

BTW, I think the problems of Labour lie a lot deeper than promotional techniques used in the run up to an election!
posted by jacobean at 3:20 PM on April 20, 2017

Tactical voting in the UK
posted by lalochezia at 6:19 PM on April 20, 2017

Canvassing works. It's less about persuading people and more about building a database of who is likely or might vote for your candidate to inform your work getting your vote out.

Leaflets are largely wasted effort. Phone banking is about share of mind. If you lean LD or green, it's incredibly important.

If you don't have time, give money
posted by dmt at 3:17 PM on April 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you seen this, over in projects?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:10 AM on April 25, 2017

Thanks everyone who answered - I have a better understanding of canvassing, and am going to go and do it for the first time tomorrow!

And just to cover all the bases, have donated time as well as money.

If you could all now please cross your fingers and hope as hard as you can, that would be ideal.
posted by greenish at 2:06 PM on May 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

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