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Welcome to my blog. Im always looking for new ways of bringing people together to build campaigns. Im always amazed by the energy and passion of the people I meet and the different skills they bring to making change happen - the ideas we try out, the campaigns we work on, the relationships we build together. I want to share those stories with you. I hope you enjoy them!

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If I can't dance, I won't join your revolution

Many Labour activists see what’s going on like the end of a relationship with their party, no matter how much they want to relive the good times, they sense something is broken and it’s time to move on. .

Because like most people, activists too miss out on the happiness of seeing something they have shaped together and feeling empowered to do so. And despite being ignored and mocked by their own party for calling the government for fairer taxes and more equal rights, there are still many of them relentlessly trying to persuade voters that the government will deliver a better deal for them.

These activists are all that’s left to save Labour from itself. Those who have left can't see the point of saving a party that won't listen to them and took them for granted, thinking they wouldn't leave as they had nowhere else to go.

As a fellow activist said
“I suppose I always had this illusion that my membership brought some influence. But when you realise that you cannot influence what happens, and you’re just supporting something you find insupportable … what do you do?”.

To paraphrase a cult socialist proverb, if you can't dance, why join the revolution?

You can cancel your membership and many of us have. You can complain and even more us do. Or you can campaign to try and get Labour to change.

You then might argue there have been so many proposals on how to reconnect disillusioned members to come out and campaign. Most efforts by the party have so far been more "pin the donkey", trying to attach the long tail of the grassroots to the skinny rigid body of its own structures.

Given how many young members are even more disillusioned with the party and how it has been virtually impossible for any "left" candidates to win any Young Labour positions, you'd be forgiven for thinking that campaigning for the recent Young Labour elections would be a lost battle.

But once we realised how many people wanted their party back and how we could contest democratic elections for Young Labour Chair, we knew this was an opportunity we couldn’t miss.

The campaign didn't start in Westminster, even less so in Victoria Street and not even in the narcissistic egos that so many candidates standing to represent young people get. We knew that as well as making change happen with other young Labour members in his region, with other young progressives, with other young people in his community, Sam Tarry really was the best candidate to make change happen in becoming Chair of Young Labour. He is probably the only candidate I know who had already delivered the promises he was yet to make.

But we didn’t just write the campaign on the back of a cigarette packet. Campaigning for apprentices to get a minimum wage isn't an issue Sam picked out of a lucky policy hat, it was an issue he'd fought for with other young people. "Your idea, your campaign" isn't some motherhood and apple pie concept he proposed to sound like Obama, we tried it out in workshops and through video.

That’s why “It’s not about me, it’s about you” was a message that Sam was keen to spread and helping run the campaign, I can assure you it’s so much more exciting to feel that your team is constantly growing and growing. Every day people bringing in new ideas, new skills and this is where your ears will prick up…new supporters.

But we didn't stick to a structured plan of how we would engage young members, we adapted and innovated to make it as comfortable and empowering as possible for different people at different times in different ways to feel and get involved in the campaign.

Here are a few of the lessons I learnt in running communications for the campaign, I won't take up any more space on this blog, but if you click on the hyperlinks you can get a better idea of what we learnt.

empowering your activists to campaign for you

  • move it and shake it like they've never seen it before
  • name and frame the campaign
  • release the pressure of your team
  • join up the dots before jumping in

encouraging people to support you

  • start with your personal story
  • connect up your personal story to the collective story of your activists
  • go where the people are - adapt the messengers, not the message
  • track the causes and campaigns that matter to your potential supporters

developing your message

  • don't make deals with people you don't know, earn their trust
  • don't treat them as employees, treat them like your family
  • don't take them for granted, value them as people you couldn't do without
  • expect to be surprised by your supporters, they're the people you've been waiting for
  • understand what you're doing with the tools you've go
  • understand how your supporters can participate
  • share your success and they will commit even more to you

coping with your campaign

  • embrace the mess, you need rules for radicals not robots
  • focus relentlessly on the people you need support from
  • start with your instinct, be ruthless in your judgement
  • don't just make it blood, sweat & tears, give them leadership & a smile
  • don't just tell supporters what you stand for, get them to vote for you!

Don't just get people on your dancefloor, get them to run the show and they'll join your revolution.


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