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GEARING UP FOR AN ELECTION
 

This article by Alistair McConnachie appeared in the February 2001 issue of Sovereignty.

Alistair McConnachie published Sovereignty from July 1999 to its 120th consecutive monthly issue in June 2009, and he continues to maintain this website.
Alistair McConnachie also publishes Prosperity - Freedom from Debt Slavery which explains how our debt-based money system works and A Force For Good which makes a positive case for the United Kingdom.
To find out more go to the about who is Alistair McConnachie page.
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OUR TASK
The task of the Candidate, and his or her Supporters, is to reach as many people as possible in order:

a) to alert them to the fact that our Party is standing in their constituency, or elsewhere, at the Election, and;

b) to persuade them to vote for it.

DEPLOYING RESOURCES EFFECTIVELY
Some constituencies may have a large pool of support, while others may have only a very small number of local Supporters.

Therefore, in order to reach and persuade as many people as possible to vote for us, each Candidate, and the local Supporters, should take stock of their resources in order to deploy them most effectively in the completion of the task.

The Campaign Team should work on the activity which will get the Candidate's name, the Party name, and the message in front of the maximum number of people.

WHAT SUPPORTERS CAN DO
Supporters should only engage in activity with which they are comfortable. Each person is suited to different methods of participation and can find his or her own niche.

Some people simply don't like conveying their political opinions verbally but can deliver thousands of leaflets happily. Others can talk until the cows come home. The personal strengths of each individual should be cultivated and directed appropriately.

There are various ways in which you can make the move from spectatorship to participation:

- Contact your local Branch and/or Candidate to ensure the local organiser can count on your support.

- Tell other people you know in your constituency about the Party and persuade them to vote for it. If you don't live in the constituency where there is a (Prospective) Candidate, but you know people who do, then make sure they've heard.

- Donate money, and raise money, for your local Branch Fund.

- Deliver leaflets.

- Erect posters.

- Use local radio phone-in.

- Put up a poster in your window, car, garden or field. Do you know others who will do so?

- Write letters, faxes, or emails, to friends, and associates, and encourage them to support the effort.

- Help to organise a public meeting, or arrange for the (Prospective) Candidate, or a Representative, to speak to a group you're involved in.

- Write letters, and/or articles, for the local paper. Relate local issues to the European Union. Everything published warms the climate of opinion which one day will produce the tide of events.

- Doorstep canvass and/or telephone canvass.

- Make your skills known and available whether these be photography, audio and video production, graphic design, poster and mural design, carpentry, internet skills, personal security, musical, legal, foreign languages, catering, presentation and display, letter writing, speaking, interviewing, organising, selling, media-monitoring, you name it.

- Make your resources known and available, whether these be car, van, motorcycle, boat, tractor, truck, audio and video recording equipment, photocopiers, faxes, computers, offices, room for a meeting, overnight accommodation, shop-window, field by a motorway or railway line, front garden, prominent gable end of a house which faces a road or railway line, database, reference library, employees, you name it.

ANNOUNCING THE CANDIDACY
Until you have been officially nominated by the Returning Officer, don't refer to yourself, or another person, as "The Candidate". Instead, refer to yourself, or the person, as the "Prospective Candidate".

Similarly, until you are officially nominated by the Returning Officer, limit yourself, in all activity, letters and speeches, to promoting the Party and its aims, rather than yourself, or another person, as "The Candidate". The reason for this is that "Election Expenses" may be back-dated to a time when "The Candidate" had been publicly announced.

WHAT THE CANDIDATE CAN DO
- Bring the Party and its ideas to the attention of as many people as possible, through letters in the local newspapers, or through articles, referring to yourself as the "(Prospective) Candidate", as appropriate. In the final few weeks before Election Day, the Campaign Team should aim for, at least, one letter per week -- from a different supporter each week -- in the local press.

- Liase with local newspapers, TV and radio. Ensure they know about you and have your contact details.

- Provide the local press with colour photographs of you and your supporters "in action". Have a Supporter provide a written report of the activity. Don't expect a local journalist to do it. Ensure the copy is provided well before the paper "goes to press." If it is a weekly Friday paper, it will usually want the final copy by Tuesday, but check with staff on the paper.

- Each Candidate should ensure that he or she has at least a dozen good quality, head-and-shoulders, colour photographs of him or herself. The local and national media will request copies. You want to be able to provide immediately.

- Attend and speak from the platform, with the other Candidates, at any "Hustings" meetings which are held in the run-up to the Election. Have all your Supporters keep their eyes and ears "close to the ground." You wonít always be told about these Hustings meetings, and you may often have to end up inviting yourself. Generally the organiser -- usually a local pressure group or church -- will be sympathetic to your request to share the platform, if for some reason they have inadvertently not invited you directly. Certainly, you are on strong moral and democratic grounds to insist, politely, that you share the platform, if, in the unlikely circumstance, there is any opposition from the organiser. Get as many local Supporters along as possible.

- Attend the Polling Stations and the Count on Election Day.

THE AGENT
Every candidate must have an Agent, although you can be your own Agent. The Agent must have an address for all correspondence from the Electoral Office, which must be in the constituency, or an adjoining constituency. The Agent:

- will acquire, when the election is announced, the Nomination Papers from the Electoral Office. This will include 2 free copies of the Electoral Register which enable the 10 signatures to be correctly documented;

- will help the Candidate collect the 10 signatures, ensuring the Electoral Register number is correctly listed beside each signature on the Nomination Form;

- will return, with the Candidate, the completed forms to the Electoral Office, and will be declared the Agent, by the Candidate, or by some other person on his behalf, in writing at this stage. Ensure this is at least 2 days before the close of nominations in order to give time to correct any inadvertent error;

- will liase with the Returning Officer and his Electoral Office;

- will co-ordinate the erection of posters and will ensure the location of all posters conform with the Election by-laws advised by the Returning Officer;

- will obtain a list of all Polling Stations and will complete the passes which allow the Candidate, and the Party's Counting Agents, to attend and enter the Polling Stations, and the final Count;

-will ensure any supporters who need postal or proxy votes are provided with the appropriate material which is available from the Returning Officer;

- will arrange for transport to the Polling Stations where it is requested;

- will observe the Count and will be required to analyse the spoiled papers, with the Returning Officer;

- may demand a recount of his Party's votes;

- will keep receipts and records of all Campaign expenditure in order to complete accurately the Election Expenses Form which he is required by law to submit, within a prescribed period, after the Election.

PRESS RELEASES
- These should be faxed. Emails run the risk of being lost in the journalists inbox.

- Donít bother sending a Transmission Detail page; just keep the message and contact details on one side of A4.

- Above the headline, state either "EMBARGO (then the date)" which means that you are instructing the journalist(s) not to use the information until a certain time, e.g. EMBARGO: 00.01am, Monday 30th April, or, if you are happy for them to use the material straight away then state, For Immediate Release.

- Address it to the appropriate desk, e.g. "For the Attention of the Political Editor (name)"

- List the name of the Party in upper case bold, above the headline, and in slightly larger font than the headline.

- The headline should be in upper case bold and no more than 8 words. Make it a catchy and punchy summary of the information.

- Below the headline, in lower case bold, write a couple of sentences which summarise the rest of the message.

- Then, in normal type, but large enough to read easily (i.e. at least font 12 and ideally font 14) in several short paragraphs, detail the essential message. Use emotive words where appropriate, but don't rant. Provide references where appropriate and for authority. Explain the What, Where, When, Why, Who and How and give the full details of each. Avoid large blocks of text. Use bullet points to clearly convey the essential facts, with the most important points first. Keep to one topic. Write it in a style which would allow your complete text potentially to be published with the minimum of editing. Keep it easy for the journalist!

- Newspapers want news, not merely political propaganda. Therefore, as much as possible, try to promote a local, or original angle, in your message.

- Ensure that where the Candidate, or Party Activist, is quoted, his words are clearly stated within inverted commas. The paper will use this as a direct quote as if it were spoken from the mouth of the person. Avoid anything potentially libellous or anything which could be taken out of context and used to misrepresent you.

- Check spelling and grammar. Don't condone where you meant to condemn!

- Include, either at the top or bottom, the date of transmission, the number of pages (1), the name of sender, the full contact details including phone, fax, email and, especially, where possible, the mobile phone number.

- In the case of a daily newspaper, always send it before 10.30am if you want it to make the next day's paper.

- Remember that a good report in the local press can be the equivalent of canvassing, or leafleting, hundreds of individuals.

CANVASSING
This activity consumes considerable manpower and may often only be realistically an option for larger branches, and for those people who are comfortable doing it.

The essential points to remember are these:

- Work in pairs but only have one person at each door.

- Stand back 6 feet from the door and when the door opens step forward a little, but not too quickly.

- Hand them a leaflet and convey the four essential points: Party name, Candidate's name, our message, and the day and date of the Election in, for example, this manner: "Good evening, Mr Black, I'm calling on behalf of Joe Bloggs, the ... Party (Prospective) Candidate. We're standing at this election to give you an opportunity to vote for a party which will leave the European Union and keep the pound forever. Can we count on your support on polling day, Thursday the Ö"

- Show an interest in their opinion. Ask questions.

- Don't argue and always remain polite.

- Don't stay for more than 5 minutes at the absolute maximum.

- Note favourable responses for possible follow-ups. If you can get their phone number you may be able to call on Election Day to ensure they have voted.

- Note any supporters needing transport to the polling stations.

- Carry election literature that a supporter may wish to display.

- Always shut gates behind you, and don't walk on the grass!

TELEPHONE CANVASSING
The following is designed to be a general guide only, and callers should feel free to adapt it to the style with which they are comfortable. Thanks to Tony Gatling who circulated these notes in January 1997. Some advice: Don't call in the middle of Eastenders, or the big football game!

- "Good (morning/afternoon/evening), I'm calling on behalf of Joe Bloggs, the ... Party (Prospective) Candidate. We are the only Party standing at this election which will leave the European Union and keep the pound forever. May I ask you one or two questions". If No, then thank them and hang up. Record name and result.

If Yes

"Are you fed up with the effect that membership of the European Union is having on our country?" If No, thank them and hang up.

If Yes

"Would you consider voting for Joe Bloggs, our ... Party Candidate?" If No, thank them and hang up.

If Yes

"Would you like more information about our Party?"

If Yes

"Will you display a poster at the election?"

If Yes, find out if they can put it up indoors or outdoors. Thank them. Record name and address. Follow up with mail.


 
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