Whether and How to Stand

I have been giving considerable thought to whether and how to stand and be effective at standing in Beckenham or elsewhere for a small party for this snap election. Since you are probably interested, I have decided that I am unable to bring forward the resources myself to do so.

I do have a fairly clear idea of what I would try to accomplish (and it isn’t winning…) but what is really required in the context of a snap election is a well-formed team of experienced people who will commit and deliver, to a plan, in an accountable way. I do not think that the team described above exists today, and in this context it must exist now.

I sense that people underestimate what is involved in total. Conversations between libertarians about standing tend to begin and end with issues like finding the deposit, the requisite 10 signatures, what forms to fill in and sometimes some issues around expenses. I think that the scope of such conversations is therefore limited to only a small part of the overall process and, tellingly, mostly those parts that are fixed in law and not the parts that need to be designed by the people involved.

My strategy would have been to expend modest yet significant resources, primarily time, on the following activities with a goal of gathering actionable data. I’ll talk about that data and why it could be useful later, but notice that neither winning nor even gaining publicity are goals. Only learning is a goal.

  • Collect The Nomination Signatures
  • Get Nominated
  • Set up a database to which people can register online.
  • Make preparations to receive paper sign-ups.
  • Design a leaflet and print 70,000 copies to the Royal Mail deadline.
  • Design and build a websiste with appropriate calls to action, policy statements, analytics and database sign ups.
  • Participate in interviews for approximately 5 media outlets.
  • Negotiate and Fix on 4 to 10 key messages.
  • Design around 20 online advertisements (10 Facebook, 10 Twitter) , possibly including landing pages (i.e. 10 or 20 bits of medium length marketing copy)
  • Set up and fund the advertisements to run in Beckenham (or elsewhere).
  • Collect Click-Through Rates, and goal conversion rates for newsletter and party membership sign ups.
  • Develop an additional leaflet for distribution by activists.
  • Manage the distribution of leaflets.
  • Attend the count and declaration, additional media appearances.
  • Tabulate CTR, conversion rates and vote counts alongside demographic data (age, gender, postcode) and any interest profiles made available by Facebook or Twitter. i.e. work out who seemed to be interested and who did not seem to be interested.
  • Attempt to apportion vote counts to buckets of electors within the pre-polling day results. i.e. work out who we did well with and who we did not do well with on polling day
  • Make follow up inquiries and conduct surveys with the electors in the database in order to generate additional insights and confirm insights.

The result of the above process would be data that would allow a party to refine it’s marketing strategies and decide for example, which localities to develop candidates in, where to establish meetups, how to spend it’s advertising budget etc. If people really want to scale up libertarian efforts in the face of the unique challenges of our time, then such data is invaluable.

It is possible I have presented a chicken and egg scenario. To stand needs a team but a team must be forged from shared experiences. It is also possible that I am wrong – there are plenty of passionate libertarians who do at least know each other. In either case the question is how do we go from where we are now, to a place where there is a team ready to go the next time an election is called.

  8 comments for “Whether and How to Stand

  1. Stuart Heal
    Apr 30, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Something that had become abundantly clear long before LPUK fell apart was that standing in Parliamentary elections is pointless for a small, under-resourced party with few members and no name recognition. The only way to go is to get some experience in local politics and build up from there, taking a long-term view.

    • Apr 30, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      I was never entirely convinced on that point. I think activists might be more engaged by national politics and this shifts the economics.

  2. Tamiris
    May 3, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Perhaps increasing awareness would be a good start, maybe a Youtube channel, Facebook group/Page with witty memes and such… I would gladly participate and help when/where needed

    • May 3, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Well. I am looking to expand the reach of Libertarian Home too. The goal is for LH to be a non-partisan libertarian brand which supports libertarians directly as individuals, as well as accepting messages from parties and campaign groups. The corporate component (Working Libertarians) will do research useful to all the stakeholders.

      • Tamiris
        May 3, 2017 at 2:13 pm

        Count me in 😀

  3. Jordan lee
    May 6, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I agree with the premise of this article. In order for the libertarian movement to move forwards, there probably needs to be some focal point were libertarians can organise.

    Although I am opposed to politics, a small political project might be what we need to galvanise people.

  4. Leigh-Anne Wain
    May 8, 2017 at 10:53 am

    If we are not playing to win and just spreading a message and engaging in advocacy work, why do we need a specifically ideologically attuned political party in the first place?

    I will hazard a prediction like the old LPUK most supporters will continue to expect far more out of it than its volunteer base than they will be able to deliver. When it fails as it surely will its supporters will look to apportion blame and the party will collapse from internal infighting over personalities, management, ideology and strategy that will lead to lasting bitter feelings between the activists that will prevent any future collaboration between them in spreading the liberty message. (perhaps the old LPUK members can tell us whether they remain on friendly speaking terms with the old LPUK leadership).

    I am not averse to the political process, this general election I will be voting conservative because I think they are the only credible alternative to a libdem-labour coalition, which I judge would be worse. It would be great if there was a credible explicitly libertarian party I could vote for but there isn’t. So in the meantime I will vote for what I perceive to be as a lesser of two evils.

    I am of course all ears to some kind of vehicle which can harness grass root activist energy that typically is focused on futile electioneering on micro-ideological parties and directs it to growing the liberty movement so that one day one of the credible political parties discovers there are votes to be won in being friendly to liberty and adjusts its manifesto’s accordingly.

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