Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Mutual Aid

Conservative Home's recent survey suggests that many of our parliamentary candidates are concerned about the lack of mutual aid coming from "safe" Tory seats.

On Saturday I went out canvassing with Chloe Smith, candidate for Norwich North. Aged 26, Chloe may be the Conservative Party's youngest female candidate but I have met politicians twice her age with half her wisdom, maturity and energy. There is some precedent for younger MPs making a difference - Winston Churchill first stood for parliament when he was 24 and was elected the following year!

The reception on the doorstep to the Conservative rosette was excellent - yet residents have real concerns, from money worries and crime to local litter hotspots. There is a lot of work for a good candidate to get their teeth into - Chloe has a good team but more volunteers always means more can be done.

Afterwards we discussed some of my experiences in the last general election regarding mutual aid and organising action days for both local and visiting volunteers. Here are some of our thoughts.

Don't Panic. It is still a long way from an election and more help will come as the election draws closer. Activists in "safe" seats have been working hard to assure local election victories and flocking to national by-elections like never before. That is important too.

Do Encourage. Publicise your action days well in advance, send out reminders letting people know who else is coming so they see a team building, make sure volunteers are briefed clearly, fed, watered and thanked.

Do keep an active website. I certainly found that all the younger volunteers had a good peek at my online offering before offering physical help.

Do be creative. With high fuel costs people may not be able to travel far but willing to help from home with e.g. fundraising, writing letters, telephoning.

Do share ideas. Candidates are a bright bunch and its always worth talking to neighbouring seats about what is working for them.

AND MOST IMPORTANT DO REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN.

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