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How LibDem strategy needs to change in the next 48 hours

April 19th, 2010 Posted in Election, Liberal Democrats, UK Politics by
The astonishing, persistently stunning poll numbers for the Liberals leaves everyone scrambling asking Who? What? Where? Why?
The party has confirmed that in the 24 hours after last Thursday’s TV debate, the party banked £120,000 in donations. That’s stunning. And no doubt Cowley Street are already working round the clock to try and deal with this extraordinary upshift.
Also, the worldwide web might also crash from so many people googling Nick Clegg. (see previous post).

So, how to marshal this support properly with barely 400 hours to go until polls close?

As Michael Crick has pointed out, even in seats where we have a good chance of winning (he highlights Bournemouth West), the party does not have the ability to spend up to its expenses limit of about nine grand.

 This sort of cash is, of course, chicken feed to the Belize baron who funds the Tories and Charlie Whelan’s trade union.

But perhaps we should counter this by seeking to direct Obama-style fivers and tenners directly to local grassroots campaigns.

My suggestion is this. On the “donate now” section of the party’s official website, we invite candidates in the 100 or so “long shot” seats to submit a photo, 20 word biog and 30 word pitch. We link this up to paypal and promise to use every penny in those seats to combat the Ashcroft/UNITE millions directly.

We need to link small donors directly with their preferred candidate. This may or may not be their local candidate – they might pick someone they particularly agree with on a policy area.

All the cash could be used to fund a first-week-of-May leaflet (or two) in each designated constituency. Running totals of what has been raised so far could be displayed directly under each Liberal PPC’s photo.

Not only might this allow us to start to compete with the warchests of the two old parties, it would also send a very clear message – the Liberal Democrats want the people, not vested interests, to decide things.

I dont think that this is a big ask. I am sure that the brilliant Mr Pack & co over in Cowley Street could sort this is a matter of hours. Get Nick to give it a bit of publicity and it just might actually make a difference to how well we convert this support to votes on May 6th. And, as stated it would definitely “send a message” about who we are.



7 Responses to “How LibDem strategy needs to change in the next 48 hours”

  1. Nick Barnes Says:

    Our LibDem PPC has freely admitted to me that he doesn’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of winning and that there’s absolutely no point in doing any advertising in my ward. Shame, since I live opposite the local school which is also the polling station and my offer of hosting a couple of staked boards in my garden was refused.

    Apparently the local party is putting all its money into trying to keep its seat (300 majority) and isn’t interested in the other wards around the area.

    Wishing that I was standing myself now – even if I stand no chance of winning, at least I wouldn’t have faltered at the first hurdle.

    Anyway, the point is that if my PPC is typical, there’s no point in throwing money at the long shots as they simply aren’t interested in getting in.

  2. Niklas Smith Says:

    Lib Dem Voice have already done something similar for five candidates here:

    I would like to put in a word for Sal Brinton, our candidate in Watford – I’ve met her a couple of times and have always been impressed.

    And if you want to support Julian Huppert, our candidate for Cambridge, click here:

  3. Ed Joyce Says:

    That’s a fabulous idea. I would be happy to make a contribution directly to the Bournemouth West constituency specifically to fund a leaflet there before the election if there was an easy way to do it. We need to make a big push in the marginals that we don’t control. If we were able to do that on a constituency by constituency basis would allow people to donate where they have a local connection.

    I checked out the Lib Dem Voice link but it just goes to Cowley Streets site. I can’t see the money getting to where it is needed in time via that route.


  4. Niklas Smith Says:

    @Ed: They use the references (on the end of the URL) to direct the money to the right place. If you’re worried, you could look up the local party websites for each constituency, but not all of them have the ability to received donations online (though they all ought to – PayPal is easy to set up).

  5. Richard Gadsden Says:

    In most cases it’s not money that’s the problem, it’s getting the delivery network together to deliver a leaflet.

    A constituency-wide leaflet should cost about £500 – that’s about 40,000 leaflets (74,000 voters usually live in about 40,000 homes). But a typical leafletting speed is about 200 an hour, so that’s 400 person-hours of leafletting.

    My suggestion instead is that we should have some national leaflets that we sell, direct to the supporter, in batches of 200. People order their choice of leaflet, 2-3 days later they arrive in the post, and then they deliver their own street. Advertise that on the RATM group and see if we can’t get a few million leaflets out. They’d come off the national expenses limit, so no need to worry about expenses unless we got more than £10m ordered.

  6. Nick Barnes Says:

    @richard – that sounds like a wonderful idea, however I see several problems:

    1 – How do you ensure that the same street doesn’t get delivered to multiple times.

    2 – How do you protect yourselves against people from other parties ordering a whole load of leaflets and then binning them all?

    3 – A budget of £10m would permit 800,000,000 leaflets to be printed (using your £500 for 40,000 figure) – that seems a little like overkill to me. :-)

    4 – Even if you look at a more realistic 1,000,000 leaflets, who’s going to do the accounts for and dispatch of the 5,000 payments and packages?

    5 – It’s too much of a gamble – you’d have to commit to printing so many of the leaflets in advance and then what if nobody’s willing to pay the (e.g.) £5.00 (£2.50 for the leaflets and £2.50 for the carriage) or, perhaps even worse, if demand far outweighs your print run?

    Instead, how’s about designing an A4 leaflet that somebody can download, print out as many times as they like and deliver wherever they like? Yes, print quality is likely to be variable, but if the leaflet says something like “Want to further the word, download this leaflet and deliver some yourself” on it, maybe that would somewhat counter any negativity.

  7. Alex F Says:


    1) – wouldn’t matter. Wouldn’t be ideal, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    2) – sell the leaflets at cost or profit, and it wouldn’t matter.

    You’d need to find a fulfilment partner who could handle the micropayments – this is not something we’d need HQ staff doing at the moment!

    The problem with the print-your-own is know how to account for the donations in kind. You’d have to rely on people letting you know exaclty how much paper and ink they’d used.