This time, I have focused on a very mechanical approach to providing a solution to the electoral problems that many of us now agree that we’ve got, and have put it all together in a ‘How to’ guide.
Mindful that increasing numbers of us don’t even bother to Vote in Elections now, and that many will go as far as defacing their ballot paper and writing ‘NONE OF THE ABOVE’ as they strike a line through it, I have taken messages such as ‘Not in My name’ and ‘You don’t speak for us’ and the associated feelings away, and created a guide so that everyone who is interested in what it would take to create a genuine electoral alternative, in a real or Official sense.
The message overall, is that if we continue to do nothing – and just moving the pieces around on the political party chess board is very much that very same thing – it is inevitable that we will continue to get the same experiences as we’ve already got – but with the potential for them to get increasingly worse.
It’s a nice idea and we’ve taken it for granted that we can leave politics for the politicians, for a very long time.
Sadly, because of this hands-off approach, we’ve also reached the point where we most definitely have the politicians that we deserve.
That isn’t going to change until we all reengage and accept that each and every one of us is going to have to take part.
Before we get into the real opportunity that is awaiting you and your Community, and the details and STEPS of what you can do to play your part, it is worth mentioning that the alternative pathway offered by Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is one that you are being invited to follow and to learn from.
But not only that. I am also making a very explicit invitation with an expectation that you can find ways to improve upon Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE and that you will then share what you can then offer with all the other Communities like yours, too.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to bring together the experiences and insights that I have had, to help others – IF they want that help.
You are about to open the door to being able to share your own experiences too.
This section outlines a PROCESS of STEPS that many of us within all of our local communities MUST take, if we want the existing ‘democratic’ and ‘electoral’ systems to work for all of us.
Doing nothing other than making a choice from the Candidates we are given by somebody, somewhere else will only ever continue to be an endorsement for ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Nothing will change.
The motives of the existing Political Parties and the behaviour of ALL the Politicians already within The System – as well as that of those who aspire to be there – are the reason that British Politics is completely dysfunctional and broken.
In the longer term, the electoral system and system of democracy that we have must be completely reformed so that public representation is in touch with everyone and is always provided by the most appropriate and best-suited People that we could ever have.
However, for Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE to succeed as quickly as possible, we have no choice but to focus on what we have the power to do NOW, so that we can begin the process of changing everything as quickly as we can.
The good news for everyone is that change of the kind we need, is possible to begin working on now.
NOT through creating civil unrest or by forcing some kind of revolution, as some People genuinely believe – where the outcome is never guaranteed because its out of our control.
But by stepping outside of the system that the Establishment expects us never to question. By looking at the whole ‘electoral wood’ differently. Then using the map of the trees that the Establishment has given us, whilst navigating our own path through with new way of thinking that will enable us to take back our power and then put all the self-serving plans and strategies that have enslaved our democracy, into the bin.
Yes. WE CAN make the current system work for us.
The difference between what we have and what we could have, is that WE MUST select, appoint and then Vote for OUR OWN CANDIDATES to run in each and every Election.
We MUST reject anyone or any candidate that is offered to us by anyone other than our own communities and accept that is OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT AND CHOICE.
When I say, ‘We need to change the way We think’, it is important to understand that this ‘change in thinking’ is about the entire way we look at things, or even the lens we use to look at it. It is not as simple as moderating or adjusting our view of just one thing.
A good and very relevant example of this is the way that the majority of us think about Elections and how Elections actually work.
Most of us have not been actively involved in Politics or Political Campaigning. So, we immediately fall into the trap of thinking and believing that the only time that Political Campaigning matters, is the same time that everyone else who is out there trying to get themselves elected, is around about our local areas and knocking on our doors.
What many of us then fail to realise is that ALL OF THE ABOVE will have their eyes and thoughts on the next Election, right from the very moment that the results of the last one have been confirmed.
In fact, so obsessed with getting elected or reelected have ALL OF THE ABOVE become, that their obsession with influencing the People they believe most likely to Vote for them in the future, is one of their priority considerations in just about everything that they do.
Put yourself in other People’s shoes
I have had the experience of campaigning for both myself and for other candidates in a number of different Elections.
One of the most important things that I learned was that not enough People will take outsiders or challengers and what they have to say seriously, IF it’s only after the Election has been called that the door knocking begins and the new messages and concern show up.
Matters that concern the Community are ongoing. They are real and they are relevant each and every day. Just like the issues that have an effect or an impact upon you.
It is the same for everyone. So, if you turn up at other times too – as anyone who genuinely cares about their Community is supposed to, People at their doorsteps will see a lot more value in the new experience for them that you offer, when you ask them to share their concerns.
Patience is necessary, as well as being a virtue
Some People – and a growing number of them too, will engage with what you are doing from the very moment that you first knock on their door. But for others, the process will take time.
The self-interest and cynical behavior that has ruled and broken Politics right across this country, for so long, has done a hell of a lot of harm.
From this point alone, it should be obvious that building up a relationship and developing trust with someone and something new, is bound to take time.
So, it doesn’t matter whether the next Election is a Local Election or a General Election. Nor does it matter if it is going to be held in 4 months or 4 years time. The right time to begin the process of engaging with Local People is RIGHT NOW!
Another idea that we must get over is the one that tells us it’s only the Politicians who are already elected that have any power, when it comes to influencing anything that’s going on.
They don’t. And it’s self-sabotaging to think this way. Because in the same breath, its easy to fall into the trap of assuming that nobody will pay attention to anyone else.
That’s bad enough. But the real risk to changing everything for the better is the next idea to arrive.
The one that suggests we have to listen to and respect what anyone who has been elected or has a position of authority has to say.
Respect & Trust MUST be earned AND be credible too
Sadly, the way the Electoral System works today doesn’t mean that we can rest assured that candidates are skilled, experienced, in touch with our reality, or in any way capable of speaking for us or making any decisions on behalf of us all.
Not only this. The reality is that even the ‘majority Votes’ that ‘winning’ candidates attract for Council and even Parliamentary Seats are themselves representative of just a small fraction of just the People in our communities who are eligible to Vote.
This means that the genuine majority of the People who you are about to communicate with, already feel that they are not represented by the politician(s) your Community has already got.
Speak and make promises in the same way that the Establishment and the Outsider Parties already do, at these doorsteps, and the People you are reaching out to will see right through you, almost as quickly as you can blink.
Speak honestly and openly, and share your care and compassion for change, for People and for the Community – from your heart, and the People you speak to will take you seriously, right from the start.
We have much more in common with others than anything that divides us.
Yet we allow those differences and the beliefs that we have about each other to take over and rule our lives as if the commonality that we share doesn’t even exist.
Politics is so divisive because it is reflective of who each and every one of us believes that we are and what we stand for, deep down inside of ourselves.
With the problems across the UK and the World that generation after generation of poor Politicians have created, it’s no longer possible or responsible of us to leave the Politics for the Politicians.
And it won’t be, until such time as we once again have a political system in place that we can rely upon and trust.
The culture of Politics that is dividing us all is representative or a reflection of the broken system and the disease of self interest and the thirst for self advancement, influence and power that has stepped into democracy’s place.
It simply doesn’t matter if you have seen yourself as being left-wing, socialist, right-wing, capitalist, conservative, eco-friendly or as wearing any similar kind of label up until right now.
The tribal badges that a self-interested political system has conditioned us to wear, have also been the banners that we have allowed to trip us up by defining how we feel about and how we perceive many others too.
For what it’s worth, those others have gone through exactly the same process on their part, too.
Politics today is not based upon, driven or motivated by anything good for us and for our communities, as it always should be.
Left, right or from somewhere in between. This broken Political System focuses on keeping power away from the People and absent from within the communities where it should be.
It continually funnels and focuses OUR POWER towards People, both seen and unseen, who make the real decisions that we have no influence over, right at the top.
Our power will be immediately returned to us by recognising the parts of life that are common to everyone, and by focusing our collaborative efforts to bring equitable access and provision of the things and experiences in life that we genuinely share.
If you haven’t realised already real community is not just an idea. It is a way of being.
For instance, we don’t need a socialist or a capitalist to introduce their political ideologies into the processes which deliver our food – BUT THEY DO!
And it’s the same with everything else that these People touch!
The only motivation that genuine representatives of the People need in order to get everything they do right, is to maintain their focus upon what’s in the best interests of EVERYONE, when it comes to Public Policy that has any impact upon the essential areas of life that we have in common and share.
The things which are essential to provide and maintain happy, healthy, safe and secure lives for everyone, within a system that is truly balanced, fair and just, don’t need any kind of political ideology to deliver them.
We just need to focus on working together and on collaborating in union, so that what we all need, and not what only some of us want, is all that government and our system of governance gives us – and then stops there.
It’s time for our journey to that place to begin. And you have the opportunity to play an important part at the start!
Yes, it does rather sound like the line from those great Mission Impossible Films “Your Mission, should you accept it…”. The similarity between taking on challenging tasks should also not be lost.
But there is a decision that needs to be made. And the action that follows that decision needs to be taken by many of us, IF we really want to be able to Vote and successfully elect Candidates in every Election who are NONE OF THE ABOVE.
So, your role – IF you want it. Is to reach out, listen and learn from the other Local People from in and around your Community. And to then be open to whatever happens or whatever comes next.
The bigger wheels, within wheels, that will soon be at work
Conversation and collaboration with People you don’t normally speak to but see or pass regularly isn’t really all that hard. Because you already have that shared experience in common.
If nothing else, it’s always nice to be able to put a name to a face.
Reaching out and by beginning a conversation which is all weighted towards other People speaking and sharing their thoughts and ideas about what’s happening, and what they believe our structures of government should prioritise and do, will begin the process of opening up a local and Community focused world.
You will not only take the first essential steps of helping to create a new Community-wide and all-inclusive movement that will quickly have the power to influence and change.
You will also immediately begin to learn about life from very different perspectives and see how we all experience the same things very differently.
Yes, there is an agenda that we will all be working to, from the moment you begin.
It’s no secret and we’ve already shared it.
The agenda is to get good and genuine Public Representatives elected and working with many others. So that our Councils, Public Organisations and our Parliament are being run by People who not only understand us and have our best interests at heart. But have the wherewithal necessary to understand all the different parts and functions of the Public Sector, to be able to fit them all together so that everything in the public sphere works for the benefit of us all, as it always should do.
Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE has an AIM, that will be achieved through a METHOD, which will be the result of you and others like you following a PROCESS from the moment you start.
The only thing that gives Political Parties an edge or an advantage over anyone else is that they are already organised and have systems and procedures in place.
Yet the disadvantage to us all is that they are selecting and offering us candidates under the pretense that they will represent us, when they will always prioritise the party choice.
The AIM of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is your Community making a decision upon who represents all of you together. Then going on to support your Public Representatives to be elected and to then fill and fulfil every relevant democratically elected role.
Please do not fall into the trap of believing that’s what you and every Voter like you already does, each time that you go into a polling station and Vote.
The candidates that are listed on the ballot paper in elections now, were not selected by your Community.
They were selected by someone else, using criteria that benefits a very specific group of People and whatever they stand for or believe in.
Therefore, ALL OF THE ABOVE don’t represent the views of the Community, they represent the views of someone else.
REMEMBER: The only way that communities will be represented by the People who are best qualified to represent that Community, is for the Community to select and appoint those candidates themselves.
To bring all of the People that make up your Community together, means bringing all of them together – ideally at the same time within a Community Meeting.
As pretty much all of the existing Political Parties and Politicians already know, the circumstances when a whole Community will come together in one place at the same time to listen or to even discuss issues that affect them are very rare indeed.
Yet the reason for this apathy, disconnectedness or disenfranchisement, isn’t one that’s hard to address or get over.
It just takes a lot of effort and genuine commitment to the Community – and that’s why the existing Political Parties don’t do this – because respect for what the People really think and what’s important to them isn’t something that any of the existing Political Parties either believe in or currently even try to do.
The METHOD is holding Community Meetings where everyone from within your Community has the opportunity to interact and play a part in the process of selecting the Candidates who will become Councillors, Mayors, MPs – and ANY kind of public representative that public Elections within the current system dictate that there will be.
There is significant added value and additional benefits that will come from bringing your Community together without the agendas or motives of any organisation that already exists
Yes, we quite clearly have Communities that already exist in geographical terms. They are where we all already live.
We also have groups of People who share certain or specific things in common. Like their religion, their working background, or perhaps a sport that they have played or follow as a spectator or on TV.
But it has become increasingly rare for any of us to really feel any kind of affinity with the People with whom the only thing we clearly share is our locality, in the sense that living together and sharing life together is an essential part of making the things that surround our everyday lives much better than what they already are.
It is the humanity that comes from engaging in direct relationships within our local areas and local communities that have the ability to really help us to find genuine happiness, as well as giving us the ability to discover and appreciate who we genuinely are.
There are no substitutes for the benefits that being part of a vibrant, caring and above all human Community will have for you and for everyone.
Above all, the benefits from coming together to ensure that the decisions that will affect us and that will have an affect upon everyone, are made by the right People, who we have selected, qualified and appointed, alongside everyone else who will be affected by whatever they will then do, will be incalculable for us all.
So, you’ve read this far. We are now at the most important part of the journey to Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE.
That is, IF you are ready and committed to taking the steps necessary to play your part in creating change, whilst welcoming everyone who is open to it to share the ride.
There are TEN practical STEPS to creating the momentum and energy that will engage your Community.
We are going to use the METHOD of bringing everyone in your Community together, so that your Community can achieve the AIM of selecting your own candidates for EVERY Election in the future.
CAUTION: It is important, as you proceed from here onwards, that you focus on what we have discussed in this book, and upon continuing with the PROCESS of TEN STEPS We are about to go through.
THE TEN STEPS
STEP 1: Give your Community Meeting a recognisable identity.
STEP 2: Get a free email box set up.
STEP 3: Set up your Community Meeting Social media accounts.
STEP 4: Get posting and post as often as you can.
STEP 5: Get at least 12 People you know from your Community signed up.
STEP 6: Knock on doors and talk to real People as often as you can.
STEP 7: Collaborate wherever possible, accept help and support from whoever you can, always be prepared to work with others BUT ALWAYS QUALIFY THAT SUPPORT.
STEP 8: Arrange your first Community Meeting.
STEP 9: At your Community Meeting, let the People use their voice.
STEP 10: Hold meetings to identify your Community representatives and agree what happens next.
Some things to bear in mind first:
You may be alone right at the start.
But others in your Community may also start as you are about to do so.
The opportunity to join with them and others who want to actively contribute to the creation of these new structures for our communities will come along very quickly, IF you remain focused from the start.
So, don’t worry or give unnecessary thought to how you collaborate with the wider Community over a larger area – for instance, if it should be a General Election that is next called.
If everyone who begins as you are about to, is committed to the PROCESS and doing it right, the linkups, system of union between communities and working together at a broader level, will soon fall into place too.
Your immediate thought may well be ‘That doesn’t sound very hard!’
Yet giving your new Community Meeting a name that will have as much meaning with just a handful of local People involved, as it will when everyone has just Voted your first Community Representative into an Elected Office is very important indeed.
Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is about what you all have or what you share in common.
So, the obvious thing to everyone when you first start, will be using or rather incorporating any local place or area name that local People will recognise and identify with the area of the Community in which you all live.
The chances are that in most places, some existing organisation or savvy web user will have grabbed the precise name of your Community area. (e.g., @London is already in use!)
If the actual name of your area is available for any social media username or domain name, it’s worth avoiding anyway – in that form.
Once things get moving and others can see there is interest building in what you are doing, using just the place name could be considered by some to be a declaration that you already speak for the Community.
My suggestion is that you use your Community area or place name and then add either ‘CM’ or ‘NOTA’ after or before or use a word that describes what Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is all about, such as ‘Together’ or ‘United’.
For example, the area I grew up in is called Churchdown in Gloucestershire, UK. So, the name I would then use would ideally be ‘Churchdown NOTA’ or ‘Churchdown Together’.
Continuity and recognisability are important across the different platforms that you are about to use. Everyone uses social media and the internet differently. But they all need to be able to identify with something that reaches across all of them the same.
Before committing to the name you will use, PLEASE work through STEPS 2 & 3, and check that the same Usernames are available for you to use first.
This is a particularly good thing to do early on. Because it could be one of the easiest ways to work out if someone else is already working with Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE, in your Community too.
Things to be aware of:
You will probably use your local area name, with ‘Community Meeting’ following it as our e-mail username in STEP 2. But @communitymeeting would already be too long to become a username on one or more of the social media platforms that you are about to use.
Groups that represent different parts of your local community or interests that are shared between a number of local People may already be using words like ‘together’ as a prefix or a suffix within their proper name or a social media username.
A quick visit to any linked social media or web pages should quickly make clear who any group using one of these names is, and whether you are both working to create a Community Meeting of the Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE kind.
What you are about to do, is not about you. It’s all about your Community. So, don’t use your name as the name for what will become your Community Meeting.
You may technically ‘own’ or ‘control’ everything you create or do whilst you are working alone. But the end result will only ever belong to the Community.
If you feel uncomfortable with this, please give further consideration to the reasons you feel that way before you decide if you want to proceed.
Even if the name of the area or place you live in sounds like it must be unique, there is a good chance that the name will exist somewhere else in the UK or beyond.
If you should find that the name you would like to use already is being used elsewhere, don’t worry. Just add an abbreviation such as SW if you are in the South West, or perhaps something like the first two or three letters of your postcode area – which in the case of Churchdown would be GL or GL3.
If you are going through the TEN STEPS in order, you will already be aware that STEPS 1, 2, and 3 fit very closely together.
It may seem that setting up a FREE email box and address for your Community Meeting would be better as STEP 3.
But if you are doing everything as suggested, you will soon understand that you will need your e-mail address to get your social media platforms set up with your Username and/or to validate your set up too.
There are a number of FREE email options available to you and it may be the case that you already have a FREE box that has come with your Phone set up, or perhaps you have one with Bing, Google or a company like Yahoo.
Most of them will allow you to set up a second box reasonably easy if you do. All you need to do for instructions, is follow the help options or do a search on any related search engine facility.
My own preference would be to use Google or Google mail. The functionality is excellent, and the security seems to be great. This is not a recommendation. But the reality is that this whole PROCESS is about making your journey to the doorstep as easy as possible, and it will only get longer if we overcomplicate things.
When you are setting your account up, please use the name of your Community Meeting as the username.
For example: ChurchdownNOTA@gmail.com (please note that this box doesn’t yet exist!)
Then, when you are setting up the details that will appear when you send any emails, I would suggest using your Community Meeting Username, the same.
Things to be aware of:
If you are nervous about mail being read or hacked, don’t be.
If you are following the TEN STEPS and you are doing so for the right reasons – which are what’s best for your Communityand putting Local People first, you are unlikely to ever do anything that anyone could accuse you of being wrong.
Transparency is actually key to everything you are going to do.
There are no secrets being shared here in this book or as any part of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE, that I am unhappy for any existing Politician or Political Party to see.
If existing Politicians and Political Parties were ready to embrace these ideas and live by them, there would be no reason for anyone else to make the effort and try – BECAUSE IT WOULD ALREADY BE BEING DONE!
If you decide to set up a signature template, DO NOT add your private telephone number unless you are happy to receive unsolicited calls on it.
There is no need to provide a telephone number. With so many other ways that you can (and will) be able to offer People so that you can be contacted directly, there’s really no need to do so, unless you are happy to do so, or you are able to use a dedicated phone.
There are a range of different social media accounts and platforms that are available, and the list is growing.
To keep things as practical and as simple as possible, my suggestion is that in the first instance you concentrate on setting up FOUR different social media accounts.
You can easily add others social media platforms such as Tik Tok, Blogger, Rumble, YouTube, Telegram etc. if you have good reason to believe there is enough demand.
But right now, this is all about making the best use of the time that you have available and the PROCESS of getting the AIM of OfficiallyNONE OF THE ABOVE known by as many People across your local Community area as possible.
If you haven’t already done so, please CHECK that the Username you have for your Community Meeting is available for ALL of the social media platforms that you intend to use BEFORE you start signing up to any of them.
This way, you can secure usernames that will be the same across ALL of your social media platforms.
Remember CONTINUITY and RECOGNISABILITY are KEY!
It is very useful to have a presence on Twitter. Chances are that there will be a smaller number of members of your local Community who will use and interact with your posts on Twitter. But it’s also likely that this is where you will generate more interest from outside – which is important for networking and getting help from others too.
The trick is to keep your messages factual and short, or just add a short description and use Twitter just for posting your Facebook, Instagram and WordPress links.
You may already have a Facebook account of your own and you can use that as the doorway to create a Facebook Page.
Facebook is where you are most likely to pick up support from members of your local Community very quickly.
My advice would be that you treat your Community Meeting page on Facebook a bit like a central hub, which links to everything else.
Facebook is good for editorial, pictures and for posting links and I would suggest that you take the plunge and use them all, as often as you can.
Please make sure that anything you post anywhere else is linked to your Community Meeting Facebook Page too.
The functionality of Facebook Pages is fantastic. So, if you just follow the guided tour after your Page is initially set up, you will immediately get a taste of what a great Community connection tool it really can be.
Instagram is a much more visual tool that a lot of People really like, simply because the content or the stories revolve around pictures and visualisation helps how people think.
If you can record what you are doing with pictures and add a few words to tell the story as you do so, you will be amazed at the support that you will soon find.
Instagram is owned by the same company that owns Facebook and you can set up your Community Meeting Instagram account so that it immediately posts to Facebook too. However, please be aware that it does not work that way, the other way around!
If you are unsure how to put posts together that will interest and engage other members of your Community when you begin, perhaps writing and publishing a journal of what you are doing and what you have experienced will be a very good way to start.
Blogs of the kind you need to write don’t need to be long. They just need to be factual and relevant in every way that you can make them.
WordPress will also allow you to repost material or blogs from other WordPress sites if you want to.
WordPress is the blogging platform that I currently use to support everything I write, and it’s where any resources I will be making available to share with you will be found.
All of these social media platforms take just a few minutes to set up.
Use a picture or pictures of a location or landmark that everyone in your Community will know and relate to – One that isn’t a private residence, a business or includes People or private property that can be identified within it.
Use a free app such as Meme Maker to add your Community Meeting name and do any basic editing you may need, to the picture or pictures before you use them.
Write a short bio and use it for all four of them. For example, ‘Bringing Churchdown together so that public decisions are made for us all, the same’
Where you can, immediately set up posting links between your different social media platforms, so that when you post to one, you immediately post to all (For instance, if you write a blog in WordPress, the set up will allow you to automatically post to Facebook, and Instagram does the same thing too).
As soon as your Community Meeting social media platforms are up and running, you should begin posting and sharing everything that you can or have the time to, online.
People from across your Community will be interested in what you are doing from the moment that you begin work.
However, the key to success is what you then do to keep those same People engaged and interested, and then thinking about what more they could and then want to do, to help you.
What kind of things you should post:
People you don’t know will respond very well when they feel like you are talking to them, rather than at them.
A really helpful way to approach writing anything to post on social media and online, is to treat it like you are having a normal chat or conversation with someone that you already know – just without anything that would be too familiar or personal. (For instance, leave out bad language, irony, sarcasm or anything that people who aren’t used to the way you speak might not ‘get’ or understand)
You don’t need to write loads to engage People either. Short and punchy lines or just a couple of paragraphs are more than enough, IF there is a message worth sharing included.
Use your Community Meeting social media platforms to post:
News:When you’ve launched, when you have set up something like a fundraiser for People to use, when you’ve made contact with another Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE group, when a member of the community volunteers and is taking on a specific responsibility or role AND when Community Meetings have been arranged.
Questions:You should ask People what they think about things you are doing and speak as if you are already addressing the whole community – no matter how many People are already involved. Remember that the Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE pathway to creating functioning Community Meetings is all about engaging and listening to everyone who wants to speak and participate across the local Community – so give them that chance from day 1!
Updates:Tell everyone what you and those working with you have achieved. For instance, if you have made a commitment to visit a certain number of houses to talk to local People by a certain date, tell everyone how you are getting on. Or share other updates about how other Community Meetings are getting on.
The kind of things you shouldn’t post:
Remember that your Community Meeting and everything you create, set up and achieve belongs to the Community from the moment you begin.
It’s therefore very important not to blur the lines and make anything you post about you, what you are doing when you are not working on Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE, or anything personal to you, such as talking about the things that you like.
DON’T use your Community Meeting social media platforms to post:
Anything Personal: DON’T use the platforms you have set up for your Community Meeting to post ANYTHING that is about you or anyone else personally.
Anything about Public Policy or Politics: The whole point of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is the creation of the circumstances where we are able to Vote for People to represent us all as Public Representatives who have been chosen by the Community and whose integrity in fulfilling their responsibilities is something we can trust. Policy itself is the next issue, once we have Politicians running government that we can trust. So, if the focus shifts away from listening and the commitment to the order that these steps have to come, your only success by making policy statement or making an endorsement of a policy of any kind, will only be to divide People at precisely the wrong time.
Rules for using social media as a successful Community building tool:
Here are some general rules that will help you to build a good reputation for your Community Meeting, to stay happy and to build good relationships across your social media platforms, with anyone worth building them with online:
ALWAYS approach social media like it’s a one-to-one conversation with someone you already know.
Don’t do or say anything to anyone online, that you wouldn’t be happy to do or say directly to their face, in real life.
NEVER MAKE IT PERSONAL. Even the People on the internet who are rude are reflecting only how they feel about their own life and the world. ITS NEVER ABOUT YOU – but it soon will be, IF you are the one to initiate any kind of abuse or attack!
If you are unsure of whether you should post whatever you’ve written, DON’T POST IT!
Don’t present opinions and views as fact to anyone. It’s possible to get into legal trouble if you do, and you never know who will see what you have written or published, and People will be very quick to call you out!
Don’t lie or make things up – especially if you have received a comment or read something that makes you uncomfortable.
Don’t post when you are feeling emotional or are under the influence of drink or drugs.
Always answer polite and constructive questions. There will be more People who will be genuinely interested in what you are saying or doing than there will be those who only have bad things to say about anything or anyone.
NEVER make promises that you have no way of knowing that you can keep.
If you are asked a question and don’t know the answer, be honest. Don’t even attempt blag your way out. Find a way to engage directly if you can and let them know that you will find the answer and get back to them.
Ignore anyone who only has negative things to say.
DO NOT use the number of likes, shares, followers or any other kind of statistic that’s openly available as a way to tell you how successful your efforts have been. Alone, they NEVER accurately correlate with what People are really thinking. The reality is that if you only ever succeed in openly engaging one person, that one person could be connected and then tell your story to the whole world!
Don’t share links to anyone or anything that you don’t trust or are not fully aware of and know to be relevant and helpful to Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE.
REMEMBER: Unless you have done something you shouldn’t have, People only attack and criticise the work and efforts of others online, when they have nothing useful or of benefit to anyone else to say. Keep doing the right thing by everyone, and you will soon be shocked by who this cap actually fits!
Don’t publish any picture of anyone who can be identified from that picture, unless you have their permission to do so. You should get that permission in writing wherever you can.
Don’t publish information that will identify People directly, unless it relates to material that already exists in the public realm – In which case, publish the link, so readers can see what you are referencing or referring to.
Don’t publish anything on your Community Meeting platforms that promote the views of any organisation or any individual in any way, other than your Community Meeting, itself.
Things to be aware of:
Remember that you need to keep the AIM, METHOD and PROCESS of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE in your mind at all times.
ALWAYS CHECK THAT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE POSTED THEN POSTS AS IT SHOULD, WHERE ITS SUPPOSED TO, AND THAT ITS POSTED ON TIME!
Although the PROCESS is all about getting People from within your local Community to Meet up and work together, the PROCESS is also built upon the foundation of getting your message to begin working on its own, without you having to do all the work.
One of the easiest ways to get your Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE messages to start engaging other members of your local Community and to begin working for you remotely too, is to focus your first efforts on getting local People following, liking and sharing all of the social media platforms you have set up.
Clearly, the more follows, likes and shares you have, the bigger the number of People who will see your posts will be – even if they don’t like, share or follow themselves.
Because of the way that social media and search engines work, there always seem to be a number of follows, of likes and shares that needs to be hit or achieved before pages reach a magic moment or what some would call a critical mass, when new or additional followers and likes just seem to start arriving and adding up, all by themselves.
From what I know and understand at the time of writing, you will help yourself greatly if you can immediately share your Facebook page with at least 12 People from your local Community who are friends with you on Facebook, who then follow or like your Community Meeting Facebook Page, and then like and share posts with all the People they know, as you publish them.
It’s not critical for you to do this, at this point. But it will certainly help and add to your confidence, if you can secure this support in what you would be able to call a ‘quick win’.
Knocking on doors and talking to real People, face to face, may prove to be the biggest, but also the most rewarding challenge that you will face, as part of the PROCESS to create the METHOD of delivering the AIM of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE.
Before you let yourself worry about something silly, such as asking yourself ‘what are these People going to think’, please bear in mind that everyone, including you, likes to be asked what they think or how they feel about the things that are important to them.
Not only do People like to be asked for their views and opinion. There’s no better place to give your views and opinion, than at the doorstep of your own home.
When to call or knock on doors
The best times to knock on doors and find People in and most likely to be available and happy to speak to you will be between 6 and 8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during a normal working week, and on Saturday mornings between the hours of 9am and 12pm.
You should always avoid houses where it’s clear that parties or other meetups of some kind are underway.
Don’t go out knocking on doors when you know that big sporting events or other things are on TV that a lot of People are likely to want to watch.
What you should always say
At some point during any conversation – preferably as a start, you must always explain who you are, what you are doing and why you are doing it.
You aren’t knocking on the door to preach a message. You are there to listen and learn.
So, keep your explanation as brief as possible. But make it long enough so that your reason for being there makes sense in a way that anyone will be happy with and able to understand.
For example, you could say something like:
“Good evening, my name is Adam and I live in the next road to yours. I’m growing concerned about the decisions being made on our behalf by Politicians within our Local Councils and the Government and am in the process of reaching out to other local People to share our experiences and see if we feel the same. I was wondering if you have any concerns about any of these things you would be happy to share yourself and then see if theres anything we can do together and with others from the area to try and address the problems we have in common?”
Introduce yourself in terms that make sense of who you are – For example, “I’m Adam and I live in the road next to yours, I often see you when I’m at the bus stop…” etc.
Ask People to share their views and what concerns them.
Say that you are concerned about what’s happening with government and public services because of the People who are elected to run them and that you want to learn and understand how other People in your Community feel, and what the issues are that are important to them. But again, don’t start talking about what YOU want to happen or see.
Make clear that you are not working for, on behalf of, and are not affiliated with any existing Political Party or movement.
Share with the People you speak to that what we have in common and what we share together is more important than any ideas that divide us or that have been tearing us all apart
Bring focus to the way that the political system works, being the problem that needs to be fixed BEFORE we can then focus on getting the policies right.
End by sharing with them that you are looking to arrange a new type of Community Meeting to bring People from across the Community together, so that we can all share our ideas and experiences and then agree what we can do next.
Suggest there will be opportunities for anyone and everyone within the Community to help and take part and do more if they want to. But the most important thing is participation and sharing the message so that everyone can be involved and take part if they want to.
Ask if they would follow and share your social media addresses.
Take their email address if they are happy to stay in touch with you directly.
Don’t treat someone else’s doorstep as your own personal soapbox or use the opportunity to grandstand or ‘big up’ the part you are playing in any way.
Don’t abuse the gift of time that anyone is prepared to give you.
Don’t share your own views and experiences UNLESS you are asked to and only then, keep it factual and don’t include your views or what you think should be done.
Don’t criticise ANY of the Political Parties, organisations, any public figure or anyone who you believe to be setting a bad example or to have done anything ‘wrong’. You are running your own race and when it comes down to the example of what not to do in Politics, they have already won…
Don’t make anything up, lie or stretch the truth about any topic you discuss.
Don’t make promises you cannot keep.
Don’t waste their time or yours. If it is clear that the Person or People you are talking to, are already committed to supporting an existing Political Party or movement of some kind. You will not change the mind of anyone who isn’t already open to the idea of change.
Information you should always provide
If you knock on someone’s door, it’s just polite and courteous to give them your name.
If it is clear that the person or People you have called on are interested in what you are doing, don’t end the conversation or leave until they know about your Community Meeting social media accounts, and they have the addresses so that they can follow, share and like.
Do not be afraid to provide any of the details you have prepared whilst you have been working to hold a Community Meeting. If you are following this Guide and the TEN STEPS, you will have no reason to hide anything that you have published.
The reality is that once momentum starts building behind what you and what others like you are doing, there will be People involved or supporting existing Politicians and Political Parties who will see Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE and the idea of a new form of Community Meetings as a threat.
The future of your Community is for the members of your Community to decide.
Things to be aware of:
The most important thing to be mindful here, is that you do not have the right to be heard on someone else’s doorstep.
If it should become apparent that your call and presence at someone’s door is not in any way welcome at any point, turn around and leave immediately.
Always do so politely, and especially so, if you are already talking to someone when you become aware of this.
Never worry about how many houses you call at in one session. If you were out knocking on doors for just 4 hours and spend 15 minutes at each door you call at listening to what People who matter like you on their doorsteps have to say, you will have connected with more People in that one session than any of the existing Political Parties will have done so by taking the same time to deliver one of their glossy leaflets through the letterbox of every house on a giant housing estate.
You may begin working on the Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE PROCESS alone. But you should do so knowing that for your own and everyone else’s efforts to be successful, it will soon be necessary to pool efforts with others who are thinking the same way as you.
Help will come in many different forms and from many different directions, IF you get to work and just let your faith in the PROCESS take care of the rest.
If an Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE Community Meeting has already been established locally
If you should find that somebody else has already began working in your local area to build a Community Meeting using the Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE PROCESS, this is great news for your area.
Anyone who is genuinely committed to developing a Community response to the problems we face will be happy to collaborate with others who are clearly setting off from the same starting point and viewing the process of changing the way that we do Politics in the UK in the same way.
Even if somebody has already begun work to develop a Community Meeting locally, there is no reason why you cannot get started on your own, IF you genuinely believe that it will help the local Community for you to focus on an even smaller area to begin with.
However, there is also a lot of truth in the suggestion that ‘many hands make light work’.
If you get in touch with whoever is also working locally and tell them that you intend to follow the Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE PROCESS too and that you are open to collaborating, the chances are that an honest and open conversation will soon let you know how you can combine efforts and reach more People in less time, by pooling your efforts on the same campaign.
Offers of help when you knock on doors
It may not happen straight away. But once you get used to knocking on People’s doors, introducing yourself and why you are there, and then listening to what the People have to say, your confidence and passion for what you are doing will begin to shine through in a way that just your words alone will not.
You shouldn’t be surprised if People you talk to at their doorsteps are then immediately receptive to the idea of getting involved and helping you in some way – or in some cases, actually asking you there and then what they can do.
Whatever you do next, if someone is interested in helping or has made a firm offer of help, you should:
Exchange contact details and make sure that they have the details and usernames of all the platforms you are using.
Ask them what they would like to do to help.
Ask them if there is anything they are NOT happy to do.
Discuss the possibility of meeting up again quickly, so that you can arrange the next steps.
Provide them with the links to find Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE on Amazon and Online and suggest that they read the whole Book all the way through.
PLEASE ALWAYS REMEMBER that volunteers are NOT employees.
Like you, People who are genuinely prepared to come and work with you and collaborate with us all to build Community Meetings will make effort and give their time for nothing. BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT TO THEM.
That means that whatever they do, really does need to be something that they are happy to do. So, it is essential that you don’t push anyone to do anything they are uncomfortable with doing, ESPECIALLY if it’s something that you are not keen on doing yourself.
If someone wants to help but just wants to write blogs for you or deliver leaflets once the first Community Meeting is arranged, let them do whatever they want to and be appreciative of even the smallest thing they have done to help.
Check the priorities and background of any volunteers who ‘come out of the blue’
As Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE begins to build interest from local People within your Community, it will also gain interest from People, Politicians and Political Parties who are invested in The System we already have, and with a commitment to resisting any kind of meaningful change.
It’s quite possible that you will be offered help from People like this which isn’t really help at all. And if you are not aware of who or why someone has approached you out of the blue, there is a chance that they want to get involved with what you are doing using an offer of help, but with every intention of hindering or even stopping you from achieving all that you have set out to do.
As a matter of course, you should always do a thorough social media and internet search of anyone who offers help or wants to collaborate with you in any way.
Whilst the reality of what it takes to deliver Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE will always uncover those who are not committed to Community Meetings and what they will deliver, you cannot leave checking out who is volunteering to your first impressions.
The chances are that your focus could easily be on more important things than what they are doing, once you have put trust in them to do whatever they say. Sadly, the time it could take to see them for who they really are could be longer than it takes for real damage to have been done.
British Politics is broken because it works this very way, today.
Offers of Help you should always avoid:
People who have active or recent links to existing Political Parties.
People who are already Politicians or who work or are linked to Local Authorities.
People who don’t have any kind of record available when you search them out.
People with details and profiles online that appear to be unestablished or very new.
Anyone whose ‘story’ doesn’t match what they or anyone who has introduced them to you has told you.
Refusing the wrong kind of help:
It is quite possible that you will receive offers of help from People with a background like that we have just discussed, or that you have become aware that they are unlikely to be genuine in some other way.
Whether an offer of help is genuine or not, if you find that you need to decline or reject that offer for any reason at all, you should always do so properly, and be polite when you do so.
People who want to involve themselves in anything for the wrong reasons often have very fragile egos. They will become angry and problematic if they are given just the slightest excuse to do so.
Avoid giving them that excuse.
Things to be aware of:
Collaboration is essential between People and groups, when what is good for us all and for the whole Community is at stake.
Until now, different People and groups who have focused on political ideas and activism of one kind or another have happily allowed their own ideas to get in the way of the things in life that are most important to us all.
Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE requires that we think about what’s really important to everyone in a very different way.
You will enjoy the whole PROCESS if you are open to working with and collaborating with others. You will soon be making many new friends of People you already know, along the way!
Once you have started to build up a list of local People you have had direct contact with who are interested in supporting what you are doing and in taking part, the next step is to arrange your first Community Meeting.
Holding Community Meetings is the METHOD to achieving Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE.
For the first meeting, aiming to have as few as between 30 and 50 local People in attendance is likely to be all you need.
This means you won’t have to wait too long before you can be confident of numbers, and it is likely that there will already be a pub with a function room or a Community building of some kind that can be booked either free of charge or for a very modest fee.
The chances are that you will already have somewhere appropriate in mind.
Booking a room
Most Meeting Rooms that can be booked by members of the Public will have information about booking them online.
Look up the details and check the availability. But only proceed if you are happy with the terms of hire and that you already have the funds available to cover any Room Hire Costs.
Please avoid any venue that requires a Room Hire Fee, if you cannot cover the cost, if someone has not already volunteered to pay or donated the fee, or you haven’t already received enough in any Crowdfunder you may have set up.
A pub will be just as good as a dedicated Meeting Venue, and with the difficult times that we are all experiencing right now, you may find that your local Pub Landlord will be very receptive to the idea of having a group of local People come in!
Wherever you decide to hold your first Community Meeting – don’t go ahead unless and until you know that the venue management is happy first!
When to hold your first Community Meeting
It is essential to make it as easy as possible for as many members of your local Community to attend EVERY Community Meeting that you hold.
In time, it could easily become clear that enough People are available to attend meetings at a different time. But in the first instance, you are most likely to have the biggest attendance possible if you arrange your first Community Meetings on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening, with a focus on the main business being conducted between 7 and 9pm.
Please avoid any dates when you know that there is any kind of event, like a local school parents evening or a big sports event on TV that will draw People’s attention elsewhere.
In time, it won’t matter. But to begin with, this will be the most effective way to get the maximum number of local People involved.
Make sure you let EVERYONE know
Whether they attend any of your Community Meetings or not, it is important that you let everyone in your Community area know and provide notice of when and where the first one will be held.
You don’t need to drop leaflets or contact everyone directly when every Community Meeting that follows is held – as a notice by email or across all of your social media platforms for these will do.
However, for any subsequent Meeting arranged when any important decisions will be agreed – and in particular, when a Vote upon candidates to represent the Community in Elections is going to be held, you MUST make sure that everyone has been told.
It doesn’t matter if some People choose not to attend, or for some reason are unable to do so.
But it is essential that when something important is happening, EVERYONE in the Community has been informed or what is happening and has been offered the opportunity to be involved.
You only need to have put a leaflet through every door. But you must be sure that this has happened, so that no matter whether you have had direct contact with every household in your Community area or not, EVERYONE has at least been made aware.
If you cannot achieve this for any reason, you should not go ahead with any meeting where any important decisions are made.
Otherwise, it is always possible that someone can say that they haven’t been informed about what your Community Meeting is doing, and that could cast doubt upon the legitimacy of the whole process.
The legitimacy of your Community Meeting can only be guaranteed if it is clear that everyone had a choice to get involved.
That said, don’t worry if you experience an existing Politician or someone like them or linked to them making accusations that they weren’t told what was going on.
As long as you know and can confirm that everyone has been contacted, they won’t have a leg for their argument or accusations to stand on.
Something important for you to bear in mind:
When you book a Meeting Room or Venue, it’s really important that you check that the owners or managers are happy for you to hold a Community Meeting.
There is nothing wrong with what you or any of us are doing.
However, many different Community buildings will be under the control of People like existing local Councillors, and People just like them, who are heavily invested in the current System and the way that it all works.
Many of them will not want to be seen to be supportive of what you are going to do.
They will make any excuse to stand in your way or object to your use of what is a Community owned asset that was actually intended for just the kind of purpose you intend to use it for.
If you come across People who behave like this and misuse their position and the responsibility they have been entrusted with, you are just experiencing the kind of behaviour that Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is working to remove from everyone’s way.
In the meantime, don’t sweat it or worry about it if small-minded and selfish people try to get in the way. There are plenty of other options and plenty of other ways to succeed.
Things to be aware of:
You do not need to have everyone signed up or committed to attending when you have your first Community Meeting. But you do need to have at least taken every step possible to ensure that they are aware.
Holding your first Community Meeting and then reporting back to other members of the Community about it will almost certainly prove to be a very useful way to help get even more People involved in the future.
So, it could be a good idea to be working on STEP 8 as soon as you start – as long as you are confident doing all the things you need to, and in keeping the momentum up too.
Your role is that of being a facilitator for your Community Meeting. Not the voice of your Community Meeting itself.
When you met local People from across your Community in STEP 6, you explained who you were, what you were doing and why you were there, and then you listened as the Person or People told you what they think.
It is important to understand that your role at your first Community Meeting will be very similar again.
The strength in the PROCESS, METHOD and AIM of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is helping everyone in your Community to take back their own power.
To do this, we must give everyone back the opportunity to speak, to use their own voice and to be heard.
The agenda for your first Community Meeting
The real agenda of your first Community Meeting is to begin the process of bringing what appears to be a very different group of People together. They can then begin the process of recognising the value of what they all have in common, and what they share, together. All in one room.
There is a good chance that amongst any Community Meeting, and particularly if the meeting is one of the first, there will be a Person or People present who will be happy to sound off very quickly, IF they don’t get the opportunity to take over. Or they believe that there is more value in doing things a different way.
When you begin and you speak for the first time, it is very important that you create and share a few brief ‘house rules’ with everyone.
These could be something like:
That by being here, and by taking part, we ALL agree that:
This Community Meeting is for everyone and as such, everyone will have the opportunity to speak – IF they want to.
We will all commit to listening to what every speaker has to say.
When we want to comment, our comments will be shared in the sense of looking forward and how ideas can be built and improved upon, rather than being negative and critical or focused on the past.
If we don’t understand someone else’s perspective or we believe that in some way it doesn’t make sense, we will respectfully ask them to explain their perspective further and ask them to do so using their experiences – if they are happy to share.
That we all remain polite, respectful of others, and above all else, we won’t speak across others and will wait for our turn.
You will be surprised by just how engaged everyone will quickly become, once they know that not only they will be heard, but everyone will be listening to everyone else with the same open mind too.
So that every member of the Community who is present is treated as fairly as can be, it might also be a good idea to follow a format and talk everyone through what that will happen as each person speaks, before you begin.
This might be something like this:
Everyone will have the opportunity to speak.
We will go around the room in order but will be happy to begin with anyone who is particularly keen to speak first.
When it’s your turn to speak, please share your name and the area of our Community where you live.
Please also share with us if you already have a role within our Community too.
We would then like to hear your thoughts on any issue which is concerning you, along with any thoughts about how people affected could be helped.
We would also like to hear your thoughts on what your ideal public representative should be experienced in and able to do, before we make a Community Decision upon whether to endorse them, and then support them when an Election is called.
The most important thing to do is to make sure that everyone who wants to speak has had the opportunity to do so – no matter how long it takes.
It’s always worth being patient.
Don’t let anyone talk about forming or agreeing Policy at this stage:
As we discussed in STEP 4 when we talked about posting on social media, this is not the time to do anything other than listen to what everyone has to sayand what experience they want to share. It’s not the right time to get into the details of Public Policy itself.
The overall AIM of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE and the Community Meetings that you have brought into being, is for your Community to select the very best Public Representatives that it can, and then endorse and support them until they have successfully been elected. That is the right time for any discussion about Public Policy to begin.
If any kind of effort to reach agreement on a political position takes place at this stage – even if it’s about who and what, or how something is wrong, you will very quickly find that cracks will appear in the support you have been working so hard to grow.
No matter what the topic might be, even words that suggest People have to get behind an idea that might polarise opinion at this point, will be enough to derail your efforts.
People need to experience that Community Meetings not only have the power to bring members of your local Community together. They MUST also see and then KNOW that collaboration of this kind can yield genuine results too.
This will not be achieved until your Community Meeting has selected, endorsed and supported candidates and they have been elected – When People will see that Politics established on commonality rather than separation and difference, is a real alternative and choice.
Things to be aware of:
Communication is a two-way street.
Being a good communicator is as much about being able to listen and hear everyone when they speak or understand them through whatever it is that they do, as it is to speak, write or publish your words, yourself.
A public meeting is a very different environment to somebody’s own doorstep, where most people will feel safe. Many of the People who felt very comfortable talking to you one-to-one, will become hesitant to speak, when the opportunity comes to speak in front of ‘everyone’.
This is a very human and normal response. So don’t push anyone to speak if they don’t want to.
Also bear in mind that the experience of being in a group can make some People feel boxed in. If they think for any reason that what they have said could be viewed in some way as being wrong, they might easily become defensive too – which in some cases might appear they are becoming angry.
What you should have achieved when your first Community Meeting reaches its end
Your first Community Meeting is only the first. And it could be the first of a great many to come.
Let’s hope so. Because agreeing and then arranging your next Community Meeting will be one of the first and most meaningful ways that you can measure your success and see the result of the effort that you have put in.
By the end of the first Community Meeting, those attending should know and understand:
The primary AIM of Community Meetings is to qualify, select and then support candidates who are members of your local Community to stand in every upcoming Election as the candidate or candidates who have been chosen by the Community, to represent the Community and to speak and Vote on its behalf.
The dates and timelines for the next Parish/Town, Borough/District, County/Unitary Elections covering your area (where they are relevant), and any pointers you might then be able to provide about when the next General Election might be.
The role that each and every member of the local Community is being invited to play in selecting Community Candidates for upcoming Elections.
When the process of selecting Community Candidates for the next Election is likely to begin.
The date of the next Community Meeting.
What everyone who is already contributing to the PROCESS will be doing next.
How everyone can keep up to date, keep in touch and do their bit to build the Community Meeting, so that as many People as possible are ready and able to take part, when you all come together and meet next time.
You should arrange the next Community Meeting as soon as possible and hold meetings as frequently as possible thereafter.
Be prepared to have small interim meetings online, using software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom, if this will be helpful to anyone – and particularly everyone who is making an active contribution and taking part as a volunteer.
Depending upon how well attended your last Community Meeting was and when the next Election will be, you should begin taking steps and discussing the process you will use to select your Candidates as part of a special Community Meeting that you might be ready to hold next time.
Please be aware:
Your Community Candidates cannot begin working on their Election Campaign, or the pre-campaign work that they will need to, UNTIL your Community Meeting has Selected and Endorsed them.
The AIM of Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is to have Candidates on every ballot paper in every Election who have been selected by the Community – so that there is a legitimate and qualified choice.
Selecting your Candidates for Endorsement will be rather like being an employer who is setting up and managing a recruitment process.
The key difference will be that there isn’t one person or two, but potentially an entire Community of local People that will be making the final decision and choice.
Because of the clear need and requirement to respect and protect personal data, some of the process may need to be undertaken by a committee that is appointed by your Community Meeting, which can then make a recommendation or perhaps offer several People who can then speak to the whole Community and answer questions that will help everyone to settle upon the final choice.
The most important part of the Candidate Selection process will be the very first job your Community Meeting will have to complete.
This will be to identify, agree and implement the framework or terms under which your appointed committee will then makes its recommendations or present its final choice.
Some things that you should all discuss and consider:
No person should automatically be precluded from consideration to be endorsed by your Community as a Candidate for reasons other than those which would disqualify any person from becoming a registered candidate in the relevant Election to be held.
However, a successfully Endorsed Candidate should, at least:
Already reside within the Community that they would represent or live very close by.
Offer experience of life which has enabled them to understand the priorities and behaviour of others, from across different social and demographic groups.
Offer sufficient experience of holding responsibility of some kind, within business or some other organisation, where they have demonstrated an appreciation of how organisations and services work.
Be patient and caring for others, with a clear ability to listen, understand and empathise whilst remaining objective where different perspectives and experiences may be involved.
Have confidence and the ability to speak and explain real life concepts to others objectively and to present alternative options in a way that is accessible to all and basically makes sense.
Possess evident self-awareness and the ability to consider the impact of their actions upon others, as well as the likely actions of others upon themselves, all in ‘real time’.
Be aspirational rather than idealistic. And practical but not negative in their demeanor and approach.
Have skills and knowledge that would clearly be beneficial to the Community, when used in a relevant political role.
Be driven by public service, rather than by personal ambition of any kind.
Your Community Meeting should avoid selecting a Candidate, purely because:
They are popular or already have some kind of ‘standing’ in the Community.
You like them.
They sound credible and appear to know ‘all the right things’.
They already have a ‘following’ of some kind.
They seem to have a lot of ideas.
Under no circumstances should your Community Meeting be asked to consider any person for endorsement as a Candidate, if:
They are a current member of any Political Party or activist organisation.
They are a sitting / elected member of any Council, or Parliament or of any other publicly appointed or elected body.
They have been a member of any existing Political Party within the past 5 years.
To be fair, finding People who have the most appropriate kind of experience and approach who actually want to be involved in Politics, given the way that things are and how they have been, won’t be the easiest task. At least right at the very beginning.
However, finding the right People from within your local Community is certainly nowhere near impossible.
The PROCESS will be made much easier by following each of the TEN STEPS to Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE, as rigorously and as diligently as you can.
The reality is that once People start to become aware that there is a growing, non-political option that’s all about doing what’s right for everyone, many more good People will be interested in coming forward to serve on behalf of our Communities than those who are prepared to take the risk that Politics offers them right now.
Choosing your Candidate Selection Committee
Choosing the members of your Community Meeting who will sift through, research and initially interview potential Candidates for Endorsement is just as important a job as selecting the Candidates to stand in Elections themselves.
As with Candidate Selection, the ability to be objective is key.
Selection Committee Members must be able to look at every part of the information they have and go in search of and be able to consider it without letting their own experiences and biases get in the way.
You will need at least three People and preferably five or even seven to take on this role.
Of these, it may become apparent that one member will have more of these attributes and as such may be well placed to take on a chair or facilitator role, where they can point out where certain things may have excessive influence on how Candidates are perceived in some way.
Whatever process you decide upon and whether you have a Candidate Selection Committee or not, there is absolutely no reason to hide anything, other than any personal information that it is only right and that it might be necessary to protect.
Please research handling personal data and The Office of The Information Commissioner if unsure.
When your Community Meeting has agreed and set the Terms for Candidate Selection, these should be published in full online, with links highlighted and made available across all of the social media platforms that you are using and making available publicly.
It is essential that the process your Community Meeting uses to select, and Endorse Candidates for Elections is clear, agreeable and fair to everyone – with the balance of fairness always weighted towards the Community as a whole, rather than what will be helpful to any particular Candidate.
PLEASE REMEMBER: Public Representation IS NOT A JOB. IT IS A RESPONSIBILITY.
For this reason alone, it is essential that no part of this whole process is compromised by entertaining even the smallest bias towards what any individual involved within it may want.
Presentation, Questions and Answers
No matter the process your Community Meeting decides upon to get there, the final decision and therefore the Endorsement of a Candidate by the Community, MUST come from an overall Vote of the Community Meeting itself.
Whilst the Candidate Selection Committee may have made a selection, or ideally presented several preferred choices for the Community Meeting to make its choice or choices from, it is essential that all those members of the local Community taking part in the final Vote have had the opportunity to see the ability of the candidate(s) to represent them, demonstrated BEFORE that Vote takes place.
One of the best ways to achieve this, beyond an open Question & Answer session, will be to ask the final candidates to talk through their understanding of a complex area of public policy that the Community Meeting has already identified as being important.
Then ask them to go through, in detail, and explain their understanding of each and every aspect of that issue. How they would go about finding a solution, and what their considerations for reaching a choice of solution would then be.
How many Candidates does your Community Meeting need to Endorse?
This may sound like a silly question to ask at first glance, as many of us are used to the idea that we Vote for one person to represent an area in any Election.
That’s certainly true for Parliamentary Elections when we are voting for an MP to represent us.
However, it’s not always the case for Local Elections, when Councillors are being elected.
So, it’s not unusual to be electing 2 different Councillors or perhaps even 3 at the same time – meaning that Voters will need to choose that number of candidates to support when they actually come to Vote.
By rule of thumb, the more local the Council or the smaller the geographical area it covers, the more candidates – and Votes on one ballot, local People could have. The very first time I was elected as a Councillor to a Town Council, my Seat was one of 6!
Therefore, your Community Meeting will need to endorse the same number of Candidates for the number of Seats or Vacancies to be filled, that there are.
REMEMBER: The AIM of Community Meetings with Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is to provide all Voters with the exact number of Candidates to fill any elected positions that are vacant within our current System of Government.
The Community Meeting will select those Candidates through the Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE process, just like the Political Parties use their own processes to.
The VERY BIG difference is that Candidates endorsed by Community Meetings will be selected to be genuine Public Representatives who work for and on behalf of the Community. Rather than being Candidates who will always be working for someone, somewhere else and out of sight, with an agenda that isn’t in yours or your Community’s best interests.
When it comes to the final Vote of the Community Meeting and the Candidate Endorsement itself, the Vote to achieve this MUST be conducted in the fairest way that it can be.
On the face of it, it would appear that the easiest way to be assured of legitimacy would be to work with a simple show of hands.
However, when everyone can see what everyone else is doing, it can too easily mean that ‘group think’ or fear of offending or upsetting certain People from within the local Community can get to work. This is something you will always need to be mindful of.
Remember, if the PROCESS and METHOD are compromised at any stage, then the real AIM of all of the work and effort made will not have been achieved. The Community WILL NOT have the chance to be represented properly and legitimately in the way that it should.
Therefore, passing a ballot paper or slip of paper with the name(s) of each candidate listed to each member of the Community who is voting, and asking them to place a tick against the name of one of the proposed candidates listed, will almost certainly be the right way to complete the voting process and to ensure that it has been fairly done.
Supporting The Candidate
Once your Community Meeting has endorsed your Candidate(s), the work doesn’t end there.
The process of supporting your Candidate(s) to connect with everyone across the Community is your next essential step.
You should use all of the social media platforms that you have to make People aware of who your Community Meeting has Endorsed, and therefore who has the Community Meeting’s qualified support.