Electioneering Advice from Dr Richard Taylor MP

INDEPENDENTS FOR ELECTION

The Electoral Commission’s Factsheet “Candidates at a UK Parliamentary election” is essential reading from www.electoralcommission.org.uk

ADVICE AND GOOD LUCK FROM INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY AND HEALTH CONCERN

GENERAL POINTS

1. You are only allowed the one word “Independent” on the ballot paper unless you have registered as a political party with a title, with or without a logo, with the Electoral Commission (EC). For example our title is “Independent Community and Health Concern” with a heart in hands logo. The word “Independent” is vital to separate us from the main parties and we believe that an extended title is helpful as it gives voters an idea of your aims and may create interest lacking from the single word “Independent”.

2. Every paper distributed in the campaign must have a dedication on it – for example “Printed and published by…….. on behalf of………” plus contact details. This can be in tiny print.

3. Election expenses did start from the date the election is called but for 2010 things have changed. The ‘long campaign’ started on January 1st with a limit of £25,000 plus an amount per elector and will finish on the date Parliament is dissolved. The ‘short campaign’ begins on the day an individual formally becomes a candidate and ends on polling day. The limit for this period is £7150 plus an amount per elector. All spending during the two periods must be accounted for in the candidate’s election expenditure returns. Details of the extra amounts can be found in the EC’s guidance on election expenses.

4. It helps if you have an agent experienced in local government or similar elections and it is wise to get to know the local council elections officer who is your source of advice on all matters from expenses to questions about the legality of promotion material if in any doubt.

5. You are entitled to an electoral register when Parliament is dissolved and you formally become a candidate.

6. It helps if the candidate is a local person with a reasonably high profile.

7. An energetic, tireless campaign manager with a gift for organisation and inspiring or driving others to help is essential. The campaign manager should have a small action (executive) group of 3 or 4 like-minded individuals to bounce ideas off and to apportion special duties and stick to them. All must be able to do without much sleep. A larger advisory group could be helpful but must not be allowed to deflect the executive group from their agreed course of action.

8. Dedicated website and telephone number manned 16 hours per day essential.

9. Teams of deliverers with runners to take out leaflets, posters and stickers to deliverers and notice boards to previously agreed sites.

10. Costs - £500 deposit and as in 3 above but we have done it for between £5,000 and £7,000 twice. The EC guidance explains what should count as election expenses including campaigning, printing, postage, petrol, phone, use of premises etc. Keep careful, tight accounts and records in case when you have been successful you are challenged by disappointed losers.

11. Donations – Donations over £50 must be from permissible sources and must be recorded on the election expenses return. Again further information is in the EC guidance.

 

ELECTION MATERIAL

1. High quality glossy A3 sheet folded once to make a 4-page A4 leaflet spelling out clearly the reasons for voting for you, a little about your beliefs and values and your views on important local and national issues and how you as an Independent can effectively represent your constituents. Careful wording and use of varying font sizes, colour and white space crucial. Some printers will fold the A4 4-page leaflet into A5 which helps greatly when stuffing perhaps 30,000 – 40,000 into envelopes (23 x 16 cms.).

2. This leaflet will be your free delivery, no address necessary, by Royal Mail to every household in the constituency.  Consult nearest major RM Depot for current written regulations about the free delivery and its date. Envelopes for delivery of this leaflet are vital with a brief message on the front to make sure recipients actually read the leaflets and do not immediately bin them as just another major party electoral communication or piece of junk mail.

3. Further posh leaflets, if affordable, will have to be delivered by the team.

4.  A5 single sheet, legible leaflets, containing the few vital points of your candidature are essential for street canvassing and door knocking and can be produced as required on home computers.Personal manifesto. Perhaps 8 sides black and white, home printed and available on request and on website. This should list your views on current issues to show readers how you are likely to vote on a wide range of current issues, if elected, and to demonstrate that you will represent them on all important matters.

5. Individual letters to first time voters, (shown in register) encouraging them actually to turn out and to enjoy the privilege of voting.

6. Consider individual letters to postal voters to be delivered in few days before receipt of ballot papers. Could be impractical considering the increasing numbers of postal voters.

7. Car stickers are very useful and can also be displayed in house front windows.

8. Posters A4 and A3 with large font and pithy message are essential. Location of prospective sites for posters is vital early work as they cannot be placed anywhere on public property and elsewhere must have the permission of the site owner.

 

CANVASSING AND LEAFLETING

1. Door knocking is labour intensive and worth doing while delivering leaflets if the candidate is with the group especially if you know the houses from where regular voters come.

2. Talking to people in town centres on market days or Saturdays and outside schools at the times parents are waiting to pick up kids can be very profitable. This is where the small leaflet is useful and you must have a catch phrase to interest people as you hand them a leaflet making sure they know you are not from a main political party. Rosettes are useful and the choice of colour important not to be confused with other parties. The colour of the logo, if you have one, could be a guide to the rosette. We have also had small stickers with our logo on to give to children.

3. Never waste time talking to one person for a long time especially if you sense they are supporting your opponents as you are unlikely to change minds.

4. When leafleting always open the letter box with a short stick as dogs really do lurk inside. Make sure the leaflet goes right in as unscrupulous opponents, if also leafleting at the same time, and yours is only half in, could easily remove it!

5. If you are doing a leaflet drop of second or third leaflets as most parties will do, the organisers should divide the whole area into streets, villages etc with the number of domiciles in each so that teams of deliverers know exactly which streets or areas they are covering and are given the right number of leaflets for their area. Delivering in pairs or small groups can be fun and much less intimidating than going out alone.

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