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Election 2017: one week on, the importance of campaigning

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2017 by kmflett

Election 2017: one week on, the importance of campaigning

While I knew that Labour’s campaign and perhaps Jeremy Corbyn inparticular had reached a much wider audience than what is called the mainstream media had noticed or understood I was still unsure at 21.59 on the 8th June how this might translate into vote.

Then came the, as it turned out, more or less spot on exit poll suggesting that there would be a Hung Parliament with the Tories losing a majority they had called the Election supposedly to increase.

In the past seven days there has been media commentary that while the Tories spend a good deal more than Labour on a social media campaign- primarily Facebook, Labour used twitter more- the impact was quite heavily in favour of Labour.

Yet traditional campaigning logic would suggest that social media does not often translate into people actually doing something, at least not on its own.

I’d agree with that. My preferred method of getting someone to do something is to speak to them, preferably in person, about it. In campaigning terms that is what the Labour doorstep is all about.

That tactic however has some limitations. However much the now departed Tim Farron increased the membership of the LibDems in his brief tenure as leader, the numbers who had left during the 2010-15 coalition debacle meant that the LibDems did not have people on the ground. That was reflected in a reduced share of the vote last Thursday.

The Tories certainly in recent times- and despite the ‘battlebus’ of 2015- have never had that much on the ground. It didn’t stop them from winning in 2010 and 2015 though.

Labour with the hugely increased membership following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader clearly did have many more people to pursue a doorstep strategy. But the strategy has its limits. It wont work if you stop to have a 10 minute chat with each person, but a brief interaction may not be sufficient to secure a vote, at least in terms of actually attending a polling station on election day and voting.

This I think is where both social media and the wider Corbyn campaign of large rallies around the country came in.

Again the traditional thinking is that large rallies may be great campaigning but don’t translate into votes or at least more votes.

Yet a week on the figures suggest that in every location Corbyn spoke the Labour vote was significantly up, sometimes enough to win a previously Tory seat.

It may just have been the beard of course but I suspect what may have been happening is that people at those rallies then spoke to friends and colleagues, at work, in the café, in the pub about them. And of course they could also show, perhaps on their smartphone, footage of the actual rally.

That meant a conversation was created way beneath where the media delves about why voting for Jeremy Corbyn was an important thing to do.

It’s a conversation that needs to continue being had.

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