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Archive for July, 2018

The problem with the plan for Brexit, is that Brexit has become all about having a plan

July 19, 2018 4 comments

When Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Downing Street in May 1940, he didn’t have a plan or a date in mind for the War to end in 1945. He just knew what he had to achieve, and took the initiative to lead.

Right now, Brexit has effectively fallen on its arse. Not because the instruction given by the Electorate on 23rd June 2016 wasn’t clear. It was.

Brexit seems to be going nowhere because almost everyone has become obsessed by the ‘plan’ that will get us ‘there’.

Having a plan in itself isn’t a problem. Having plans is pretty normal. But when you allow yourself to become paralysed and glued to the spot, just because there isn’t a plan in place which appears to suit your purpose, there is little wonder that everything soon begins to resemble one giant mess.

Plans, or creating plans for any aim or desired outcome is a very deceptive process. Having an ‘agreed’ plan gives a false sense of security, built on the complacent view that everything will then work like clockwork and turn out as good as you could possibly hope.

In practice, or perhaps I should say the real world, plans rarely work out as anticipated, particularly when it comes to Government or running anything which involves the input or influence of more than one person.

Roll that idea out into a negotiated peace with the European Union, its advisors, negotiators, commissioners and 27 Nation States in between and we can begin to get a very real idea about how hard agreeing a plan which will suit all of them – and don’t forget us – would actually be.

The elephant in the room with all of this process of working up and then waiting for the EU to agree a plan, is and always has been that it is completely unnecessary.

The result of the European Referendum was a clear instruction. An instruction to Parliament and our MPs to take every step necessary to facilitate and then implement the specific action of rescinding, and therefore leaving Membership of the EU.

That instruction wasn’t advisory. It wasn’t just a view. The Electorate’s instruction was not a request for MP’s to go away and spend two years arguing over what the word ‘leave’ actually means and dream up excuse after excuse to excuse themselves from doing that which they have been told to do.

It certainly wasn’t an invitation to delay, divide and destroy a legitimate democratic process by creating the pretence that you don’t need to be in or out, but can hover happily somewhere in between. You can’t.

Even attempting to create a comprehensive or exhaustive plan to undertake such a complicated process as returning full sovereignty, law making and responsibility for our own trade, was always going to be impossible to achieve. But that is no reason to fall into the trap of thinking that without a plan, Brexit or rather leaving the European Union is something that we should not or disingenuously then have an excuse not  to do.

In 1940, Churchill had no plan for winning World War 2. Yet one way or another, dealing with each and every battle, set back, resource issue and foreign affairs nightmare as it came, he achieved for him his aim and for us as a Country, much more besides. As our leader, he just took each and every step, looked each and every day in the eye and didn’t accept defeat as an option which was on the table, let alone a choice which was his alone to decide.

It didn’t take one big plan to win that War. It took a whole series of many smaller plans to do what adds up to being the same.

It’s simply the case that hindsight has allowed the story to fit together snugly when the words of history overlook the mistakes, blunders and blind alleyways that lurked continuously in between his appointment and our Victory.

What the delivery of such a giant task did take however, was leadership. And when we look at the way that we are being led into Brexit today, compared to Churchill’s take on being ruled from Europe from 1940 to 1945, there remains an almost universal gulf sitting in between.

image thanks to Wikipedia

If you want to be a good politician, never make it personal

To get a real idea of what it is actually like to be a local councillor and politician, it is important to talk about how you can very quickly make life unnecessarily difficult for others and make yourself very unpopular too.

Believe it or not, making things personal as a campaigner, activist or politician whilst working in the community and in public, is probably one of the worst things we can ever do.

If you genuinely want to take responsibility on behalf of others, you will need to understand and also accept that people who disagree with you will often see you personally as the problem, rather than the quality of your arguments or the facts that you use to make your case.

Think about how you might feel if someone else has a platform to speak on. They might be saying things that you don’t agree with, or perhaps you know to be completely wrong.

It can make you feel angry. You might feel desperate to speak. Worse still, you might even feel that because they seem to be the one that people are listening to, that what you have to say yourself will actually be what everyone else sees as being wrong.

When that kind of feeling takes over – and I can assure you that it does for even the most confident public speakers and debaters you could think of – it is essential to keep your cool.

You should never resort to becoming angry and making what could be a knee-jerk response to what you are experiencing as if you were feeling a type of pain. Reacting like this will almost certainly look and feel like you are making your response about them – and by that I mean about them personally.

Being a good and effective politician is about allowing the strength and legitimacy of your arguments to win the day.

It might also help to understand that in most cases, those very same people who are upsetting you with what looks like ice-cold surety and confidence will be feeling exactly the same way as you do too!

Now that’s the easy bit. YES – THE EASY BIT!

Regrettably, that’s the proactive bit. The approach you need to learn and practice all of the time.  Unfortunately the political environment often requires you to be responsive as well as proactive.

Many existing politicians do nothing other than make their arguments personal and about the person they are thinking or talking about. When you are their target, never making it personal can be the last thing that you want to do.

However, this is the time when seeing such behaviour for what it is can really help you most of all.

Other politicians make it personal when they aren’t in control of their arguments. They deflect questions when they don’t know they are doing. And when they have no idea how to solve a problem, how something works or they don’t have any idea what they should actually do, they use name calling and abuse as an attempt to make everyone think that they are at the top of their game.

When you are on the receiving end of rudeness and even angry or threatening behaviour, it becomes very difficult to respond in a positive, calm and generous way.

But with practice and patience, you will soon learn that arguments using you as the target, rather than what you do are never actually about you. They are about how somebody else is feeling about what they are doing, and you will soon learn to respond in a very professional and understanding way.

Sadly, politicians who have built their success by being good at attacking others personally will rarely learn to do politics another way.

That’s why it is so important that politicians and community representatives who can take and exercise their responsibility in a better way, can work through these challenges and see them for what they are. They will then be taken seriously and be respected for what they are trying to do for all.

Setting up a new Political Party

Even the most fervent political party supporters will struggle to avoid acknowledging the general disillusionment and feeling that many people now experience with British politics. 
 
The fact is that all of the mainstream political parties – even UKIP, will continue the same way that they are currently doing so at their own peril. 
 
For many of us, seeing yourself as being cut off and without even the remotest hope of being able to influence anything in Government is not a pleasant experience. Least of all when we see decisions being made which we can in no way relate to, or changes taking place in our own communities or neighbourhoods that simply have no reflection on what we or anybody else that we know seems to think.
 
  A lot of people toy with the idea of putting up or shutting up where today’s political mess is concerned.
 
It is also a pretty safe bet that whilst they may not openly talk about it, many of the people that you know will have experienced one of those moments where they just ‘know’ that things could somehow be a lot better and that the way things are today, simply aren’t right. 
 
Some already have the platform to speak loudly about the injustices of a political system that serves its own interests before anyone else. 
  
Yet many more people outside the world of politics and celebrity are frustrated by the seemingly endless status quo where nothing ever changes and politicians happily tell us that everything is improving when quite frankly, just about everyone but them seems to know that it isn’t. 
 
It comes as little surprise then, that in elections, a growing number of people are voting for parties and Independent candidates outside of the ‘traditional’ remits of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties, and that there are a growing number of political parties being established right across the Country.
 
  Very few politicians are prepared to openly acknowledge the lack of balance and consideration for the consequences of ill-considered policy making throughout Government. 
 
 But those that do almost certainly share the desire of all people outside of politics to see something different to what everyone else today seems forced to experience. 
 
However, those that do understand both the situation and the way that British Politics works will also probably question just how much benefit the creation of a plethora of new movements will bring to us all, when what the UK needs is change of a very radical and meaningful kind. Change that we all need to experience right now. 
 
The realities of starting a new political ‘movement’ 
 
To get some real perspective of the impact a new political party is likely to make, the history of UKIP provides a very clear guideline. 
 
Born from the embers of the Anti-Federalist League in 1993, it took the United Kingdom Independence Party 21 years to get its first MP genuinely elected to Parliament and then, only through the focus of the electoral magnifying lens which is a Parliamentary By-Election. 
 
As a single-issue Party, it is at best a rare and perhaps unique combination of a cause célèbre – which gave UKIP a nationwide profile – and the current political climate with the electorate looking for change, that had placed the Party in a position of being electable in the ‘mainstream’. 
 
Had Europe not been the UK’s political bogeyman for such a long time, UKIP or indeed the anti-European movement itself would have almost certainly been absorbed mechanically by one or perhaps all of the main parties long ago. If indeed the creation of a new political stream beyond that of the others had been necessary in the first place.
 
This reality demonstrates the greatest threat to any new party. As finding traction with any issue that is palatable in mainstream thinking is unlikely to take place much before one or more of the other political parties adopts a position on the same footing. 
 
We only need to observe the way that the Conservatives and Labour have struggled to regain or rather recapture the initiative from UKIP over issues such as immigration to understand what happens when an issue finds its way from the outside into what political commentators might call the centre ground. 
 
In this instance, we are once again seeing party political machines manoeuvring themselves with the simple objective of securing future power, rather than engaging in any kind of meaningful change that demonstrates an understanding of the real issues which sit behind the public discontent. 
 
The Party Political Paradox: We want change. We all know this. We also know that the establishment isn’t working for us. But it’s called the establishment for a very good reason.
 
  When you consider the history and conditions that have supported the longevity and then the rise of UKIP up to the European Referendum, you soon begin to realise that the biggest problem facing any new party will be its ability to become big enough to reach and engage enough people to gain the national level of recognition and momentum which could see it effect the kind of change that we all now actually need. 
 
Nobody should be under any illusion that as an electoral force the best UKIP could ever have hoped to achieve would have been to win the support of the biggest parliamentary party for perhaps one or two key policies, and then sell itself in compromise against everything else, just to have its moment of power. 
 
 In reality, the de facto choice or rather, the established political parties, will continue to morph or adapt their policies to be seen to answer the ‘UKIP question’. In doing so, they will work to assure themselves a working parliamentary majority again at the earliest available opportunity. 
 
You may think that one moment in time is all that it will take to enact change. But we are all already experiencing the fallout from the political stalemate that ensues from a hung parliament. And this is at a point when most of the Westminster political parties are culturally the same, even if their philosophical viewpoints don’t quite appear to match. 
 
The hard truth is that we are facing a situation where a majority of MP’s will be required to work together to address all the issues and to change all the policies which will impact upon those issues. Also ensuring that the impacts of those changes do not then themselves cause other problems that people looking for balance and fairness in their lives simply do not need. 
 
This situation creates a dilemma and significant paradox.
 
We are all either consciously or subconsciously aware that we do as such need political parties in the sense that they exist today – or an acceptance and appreciation of common ground between a majority of politicians, in order to effect the change for the better that we need within a genuine democracy. 
 
Yet we are all just as equally aware that it is being of the establishment that provides the platform or power base to enact change; ground which is currently infested with a self-serving political culture and party political system which quickly excludes voices for change and sings the song of populist thought whilst giving it nothing more than a hollow meaning. 
 
So how can we really win? 
 
The circumstances surrounding traditional politics in the UK dictates that it functions through a culture of compromise. 
 
Furthermore, the contemporary political party machine puts submissive compromise at the core of its recruitment and management processes. 
 
If compromise is necessary in any way at all, the policies which result will not have genuinely been created with consideration of the best interests or of the consequences for all truly in mind. 
 
In order for us all to win, it necessarily requires that there is a genuine change in mindset, whether that be for the incumbent political parties – which would arguably be a much more productive situation for everyone; or that change itself manifests within the many new and existing groups and independent or ‘open’ minded people out here in our communities who so desperately want to see that change, that they are ready to stand for political office. 
 
Moving forward 
 
You may have heard the saying ‘you can’t beat the system’. 
 
If you have come up against the way that Government and all things legal work, you will probably be able to see the truth in this statement. Even when you know that the system is itself flawed and fundamentally wrong. 
 
For those who have been burned by the frustrations and the ‘banging your head against a brick wall’ that comes with it, there is no pleasure in seeing new and enthusiastic people entering politics who either quickly become disillusioned with the realities of the system, or simply buy in to a culture where all those following ‘leaders’ who lead only for themselves, then come to live and believe the idea that ‘this is just the way that things are’. 
 
It may seem a lost cause to those who are prepared to accept the status quo as it is and not take any risks. 
 
But that simply isn’t the truth, and all it would take is for enough of the people already within the system to say ‘no more’ for a real difference to begin unfolding.
 
Change the system from within (But don’t buy in to the propaganda…)
 
 The easiest way that we could create change, would be for that change to come from within the system itself. That would mean influencing politicians at all levels by becoming the voices that they have no choice but to listen to, i.e. becoming part of the parties themselves.
  
The problem with this approach is that it has been tried all too many times, and some very good people have failed or ultimately have become part of the very problem that all of us ‘out here’ are currently experiencing. 
 
 As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely… Today we are experiencing the outcome of decades of the development of a party political system that favours the ascendancy of a whole generation of politicians who treat political office as little more than a job and career, rather than being the responsibility to the electorate that most of us outside of the ‘bubble’ know that it should actually be. 
 
Many Westminster party politicians get selected and promoted thereafter by saying and doing the right things for the right people. A good number of sitting MP’s today will have made it to Parliament by going along a career pathway which equips them to progress within the system extremely well, but gives them little working knowledge of what the real world is like outside.
 
How can they make genuinely good decisions affecting the lives of others when they have no real life experience themselves? 
 
The very sad and highly regrettable reality is that getting enough of our sitting MP’s to change and give the British people the real voice that they should have through a majority is very unlikely. 
 
The political culture of today says ‘don’t rock the boat or you will get thrown out’ and very few contemporary politicians are brave enough to take on a system which takes control freakery to a whole new level. 
 
Change the system from without (But don’t look at your fight as being one that you can win alone…)
 
  This is where the creation of a new movement or party becomes the attractive option. 
 
 But with the realities of establishing just one party that could make a difference covered above, there has to be an acceptance that creating a whole plethora of organisations will in time prove to be no more effective than getting a similar number of independent MP’s elected to Parliament. 
 
On their own, small, localised and local community-based-issue parties will very occasionally gain enough momentum to get an MP Elected.  
But as just one of over 600 Parliamentary Seats, you can soon see how little chance there would be of making any measurable kind of difference for us all. 
 
However, working together is a very different proposition. 
 
If it were to be the case that the genuine commonality could be found between all of the disparate groups that are currently ‘out here’ already, or which may be launched at some point in the future, the potential would then exist for something very special to happen. 
 
Knowledge of the Net and Social Media makes the task sound very easy. But without a formula that lights that spark between a whole range of people who have had the independence of mind and motivation to get something ‘of their own’ started, the prospects for success are pretty slim. 
 
After all, some may simply be falling into the trap of thinking that politics is all about one idea ‘winning’ against the ideas of someone else. It is likely to be the case that for many, that very idea is based upon an issue which is personal to them and perhaps just a few people that they know. 
 
If every politician made every decision and promoted every cause on the basis of what will serve the best interests of all, whilst also considering and making allowances for the impact of those decisions on everyone else as they do so, we would no longer require left-wing or socialist politics, parties of the centre ground, or indeed the politics of the right. 
 
Tribal politics makes debate a competition, rather than a process of exploring the methods and plans that will genuinely solve the problems that we all face. 
 
The cold hard reality is that however fair, just or right the ideas might be which underpin the motives of a new party; without losing the idealism, the philosophy and the ‘my idea is better than yours’ mentality, any new movement is unlikely to prove itself to be any better than the Conservatives, Green, Liberal Democrats, Labour or UKIP Parties given time. 
 
Thinking a different way: 
 
As a culture, we have been conditioned to look at everything we experience in terms of how it either relates to or affects us personally. 
 
This has taken place at a subconscious or even subliminal level and anyone who really wants to effect change by creating a new political movement, must themselves become mindful of the processes which sit behind this for themselves. They must then begin encouraging others to also be mindful of the impact that everyone and everything has on us, the people in our lives and the world we live in.
 
  This is no mean feat and has to be achieved without getting sucked into any of the idealist elephant traps which litter a road where thinking in practical terms is key. 
 
More and more people are waking up to the lack of balance and fairness in their own lives and those of others. But just as in the case of the Hundredth Monkey or what we colloquially call ‘memes’ that virally attract attention in what seems like the blink of an eye, the kind of awakening and preparedness that we are discussing here will have to reach a point of critical mass or the seminal moment when a positive direction of travel which cannot be influenced by any of the powers that are aligned against it is achieved. 
 
Regrettably we have to accept that this may not be a realistic prospect on an organic basis alone. 
 
Wait for the wheels to fall off from the inevitable meltdown (that has probably already started…) 
 
Bleak as it may sound and as unfavourable as it may be, change itself may well have to be precipitated by a meltdown or history-changing event which opens the general population to thinking in a very different way. 
 
 One that also leaves politicians who are not prepared to put the genuine need of the electorate first, with no power to prevent the ascent of those who are. 
 
Today, there are a considerable number of issues that at one degree or another could easily prove to be the catalyst or forerunner of an event, or series of events which create the seedbed for this situation. 
 
These might include: 
 
• Brexit: Leaving the European Union looks like it will be far from straightforward. With a real chance that the Remain lobby will succeed in forcing the establishment to welch on the outcome of the European Referendum Vote, we really could see the UK thrust into a constitutional crisis which could easily escalate in many unfortunate ways. 
• The Economy: The UK is effectively bankrupt and accumulating debt at an unprecedented rate. Politicians are continuing to write cheques on the basis of winning elections, rather than doing what they really need to do. The Government’s approach to spending does not reflect the perilous state of both the Deficit and the National Debt. The irresponsibility of thinking that borrowing can continue to grow at the current rate, just to keep a small number of people in power takes stupidity to a whole new level. Interest rates rising alone could be enough to blow the narrowing Deficit wide open and to a level which cannot be sustained by putting the problem off for someone else to deal with. What happens when the Government can borrow no more? 
• The cost of living crisis: Beyond the attempts of some politicians to hijack a real issue and hollow it out for political gain, the disparity between rich and poor, the housing crisis, price rises on essential goods, cuts in public services, energy prices, low pay, the broken welfare system, non-reform of banking and the City, and the cultural inclination to look at every transaction and relationship in terms of the profit it will make, could all lead to civil rest of a kind which would eclipse the Summer Riots of 2011 and potentially make Revolution seem like a very real prospect. 
• ISIS & Terrorism: We really do not know what lies ahead and what the impact will be from the growth and development of this horrific form of terrorism, and what its real and longer term impact will be upon our own society if terrorism should return to the UK at any significant and ongoing level. 
• Others: Issues such as the over extension of ‘rights’ and what this is doing to our society could also have an impact of a kind which right now may seem fanciful to those with their heads buried firmly in the sand. The West’s deteriorating relationship with Russia also comes to mind, and whilst it sounds alarmist to even suggest thinking about the realities which could all lay behind, the fact remains that any of these issues could blow up into something which could become very meaningful to us all at any time. 
 
  ◆◆◆ 
 
We do need new people to come forward; to bring change and to introduce a new dimension in politics. To create a new paradigm that genuinely serves the best interests of us all. 
 
 But those who want change also have to see the situation for what it is, and ‘play the game’ that politics and government has become. 
 
 As a population, we most certainly do deserve something better and it is possible to have it too. 
 
We just have to be realistic about the route which we will have to travel to get there and what the true cost and implications of that journey might be. 
 
 If you are thinking about starting a new political party or standing in an election and you think that your own ideas are the best, or that your own interpretation of someone else’s political philosophy is the only way we will win; the fact is that we are already one person nearer to everyone else losing a whole lot more. 
 
  Can you be the Independent or ‘Open’ mind that will help the UK to decide? 
 
 

News & Information Sources worth following

It is essential that you keep abreast of all the news which is relevant to your campaign and the authority you are hoping to join as a member.

This means it is not only wise to follow the news and publications from that authority itself, but to also follow the news and developments relating to ALL of the tiers of government and/or their representatives in the area which you will share if you are successfully elected.

For all of the local Tiers of Government (Parish/Town, Borough/District, County, MP, MEP):

  • Follow their Twitter Account
  • Follow their Facebook Account
  • Follow/Read the council website
  • Follow/Read the MP/MEP’s website/blogs
  • Read any newsletters or community magazines that they produce

Other local sources:

  • Follow/Read the websites of all the local branches of political parties
  • Follow local schools, community groups and membership organisations on Twitter and Facebook
  • Follow/Read the local newspaper(s) online, on Twitter and Facebook

National:

  • Follow all of the national newspapers on Facebook and Twitter (see below)
  • Follow all of the political journals and commentary sites on Facebook and Twitter (see below)
  • Sign up to all ‘daily updates by e-mail’ opportunities
  • Sign up to updates from Parliament and the Office for National Statistics

Getting Elected as an MP

July 3, 2018 1 comment

In theory, it is possible for anyone to get elected as an MP, as long as they are eligible to become a candidate.

The reality is that our political system doesn’t currently support candidates who are independent from the mainstream Political Parties and without running for one of them (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SNP or even UKIP) you are unlikely to pick up sufficient votes to even have your deposit returned. (Whilst no financial commitment is required to become a candidate for a Council Election, this is not the case if you wish to run for Parliament).

There are exceptions. For example, former BBC Reporter Martin Bell successfully won the Tatton Seat from the incumbent Tory MP Neil Hamilton in 1997, after both the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties withdrew their candidates.

However, getting elected to Parliament as an Independent is now incredibly rare, in no small part because of the very tribal way that people generally vote in national or General Elections.

Regrettably, it is because of the control that Political Parties have over the national elections, that so much power currently rests in the hands of a handful of people. This is one of the key causes for so many of us feeling so disenfranchised by a political system which basically focused not on the will of the electorate, but on the ideas and will of the few.

It would be wrong to discourage anyone from running as an Independent Candidate in a Parliamentary Election, but right now the chances of even one being elected are very slim.

It is important to be aware that without a significant local issue that can really rally everyone to a single cause, you may well enjoy the experience of running, taking part in hustings and even having a little media attention too. But the upshot is that it could be extremely emotionally draining, and you will never match the resources and supporting infrastructure which the Political Parties have available to them for Elections of this scale and of this kind.

If you really want to make a difference as an Independent, getting elected to local government really is the best place to start, to learn and to really begin to make a difference!

Joining a Political Party

July 3, 2018 1 comment

If you have found ‘How to get Elected’ whilst thinking about joining a Political Party to become a Candidate, you may still find some significant benefit from everything that this Blogsite can provide.

There are good and even great politicians in all of the Political Parties. However, there aren’t enough of them yet to make the difference that the electorate needs.

‘How to get Elected’ has been created to provide an alternative route to that which the Political Parties currently offer. Whilst the Political Parties pretty much have a monopoly on Elections at Parliamentary level, Independent Candidates, or Candidates affiliated with small or local political parties often have just as much opportunity as the main Political Parties to get elected too.

The upside of joining a well-known Political Party is that you can lean on the experience of others whenever you need it. You may have access to and the support of volunteers and activists who will physically help to campaign on your behalf. You will also, almost certainly have an Election Agent provided by the Local Party who will keep you in line with Electoral Law requirements, and have the costs of printing and potentially even the design of your campaign literature – which may be negligible – covered too.

The downside is that you will normally have to go through a selection process like applying for a job. Others – often sitting Councillors or Party Officials will decide for you whether you are fit to be a Party Candidate and if you are, where you will be able to run. (This may not be where you live if the Party already has incumbent Councillors representing the seat who do not intend to ‘Stand Down’ at the next Election).

When you are campaigning as a Party Candidate, you will usually be expected to openly show support for other Party candidates and this might mean campaigning in other areas or promoting affiliations that could be (seen as) negative towards your own campaign. Once you have won a seat as a Party Candidate, the seat is never really considered to be truly representative for its specific electorate, or even your own by the Party – even though you are the named candidate and occupant of the role. The first call on your loyalty will almost always be to the Party.

If you would like learn more about mainstream Political Party Membership, please follow the links below:

The Conservative Party

The Green Party

The Labour Party

The Liberal Democrats

The Party of Wales (Plaid Cymru)

The Scottish National Party (SNP)

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Always check the cap is screwed tight on the Tomato Ketchup

You are probably wondering what on earth ‘always check the cap is screwed tight on the Tomato Ketchup’ could possibly be about. We are discussing How to get Elected after all!

This page is about always having attention to detail and remembering  who you are.  A suggestion that you should never let your guard down in company wherever you might be. Some cautionary advice that you should always be minded that you never have genuine friends in politics and you must therefore keep yourself very safe unless and until you are absolutely sure.

The reason for the title, is it is perhaps the best way to illustrate the ubiquitous presence of otherwise meaningless opportunities for you to trip yourself up on a campaign, as a councillor or in politics if you lose focus and take your eyes off the ball.

Being a good campaigner, councillor and politician is about always being conscious of everything we do and the consequences thereafter. Not just in the big things, but in the small things too. Because in the reality which is politics, it can often be the detail which counts.

A cautionary Campaign Tale…

In the Election Campaign leading to my first District Level Seat with Tewkesbury Borough Council, I was fortunate to be working with volunteers and other candidates running for the same Authority.

We were working together on the principle that many hands made light work (Which in politics is not necessarily the case as the more people the actual candidate meets the better), and would spend evenings and Saturdays taking it in turns to cover significant parts of our respective target Wards.

After what felt like a successful Saturday morning covering a lot of the area which was soon to become my Ward, we all headed off for lunch at the local Hungry Horse.

When the meal arrived, I soon headed for the condiments table and returned with a glass bottle of Tommy K.

As I neared the table, I began to shake the bottle, firing the cap and much of the contents across a wall and over one of the other Candidates who had travelled some 10 miles or more to help.

I had been relaxed, excited about the feedback from our mornings work and not thinking about where I was or who I was with. I had let my guard down.

I didn’t really know the people I was with and had lost sight of almost everything, just because in that particular instance, we had all had commonality and been sharing an experience of just one thing.

How many other instances can you imagine where it would be easy for you to do exactly the same thing?

 

 

image thanks to unknown

Respond to Communication

From the moment you begin campaigning, it is likely that people will contact you by phone, text, e-mail or Social Media.

When you receive genuine enquiries – no matter who they are from, you should always respond.

If you cannot answer a question or provide the information that the person is seeking immediately, respond and let them know what you intend to do.

DON’T promise to respond by a certain date or time if speaking or obtaining information from other people is involved.

DON’T commit to delivering an outcome or to doing anything where you have no control over the results.

If you have said you will get back in touch with someone, make sure that you do.

If you cannot help someone, be honest and tell them why. If possible, signpost or introduce them to someone who can.

People will be very understanding when you communicate openly and are honest with them. However, they will soon lose patience and may even be happy to tell others how they feel they have been wronged if you don’t.

If any direct messages you receive are rude, threatening or clearly political in nature, there is no need to respond and you may be best advised not to do so.

If you feel threatened, you should report this to an appropriate authority.

Responding to proper questions or comments on Social Media can be difficult when there is an audience involved. If you receive an open message which other people can see, but involves providing a response which would be inappropriate for others to read – for instance if it involves contact details, names of others or private information, you should respond only by asking the person contacting you to get in touch in a direct or private way. You can then deal with the matter with due regard to privacy etc.

Unless you are very confident using Social Media, it is advisable to not get into any form of debate with anyone. There are many users of these platforms who deliberately attempt to ‘bait’ other users and draw them into making comments which could be embarrassing or used to paint others in a negative light. Avoid them and what they are doing whenever and wherever possible!

Make yourself available

If you are taking your responsibilities to the community seriously, you will need to accept that people will contact you at times which suit them, rather than times that ideally suit you.

People see councillors, community representatives and politicians differently to themselves.

As such, they have very different expectations and it is important that you always keep this in mind.

Using e-mail as a standard communication medium can be a great help. But there are still many people who prefer to speak in person or by phone, and they will expect you to make yourself available at a time that will work for them.

The idea of making yourself available is more frightening than the reality will be.

The times when you will have to go out on dark nights, early on Sunday mornings or at times you might think your community work could get in the way of other things in your life will probably be few and far between. But when they come, it will be essential that you allow as little as possible to get in the way.

The upside is that if you don’t put unnecessary walls in the way of providing access to people who want to take you up on the offer of help, people will rarely be ungrateful for the work that you do, even if it is not necessarily apparent.

If you do receive messages or requests for visits which you cannot immediately respond to properly or are for some reason unable to arrange, you should always respond and briefly explain the delay and what you plan to do.

Always know your stuff and come clean when you don’t

We have sadly become all too familiar with politicians talking around questions when being interviewed, rather than giving a direct answer or any meaningful facts. Worse still, it is becoming increasingly popular to ‘double down’, backing up or repeating such responses and the opinions which surround them, simply because some people think by doing so will make any difficult questions go away.
 
They don’t. And being seen to be deliberately economic with the truth, or ‘spinning’ news in a way which suits a politicians or their party’s needs has played a key part in the developing mistrust of those in public life.
 
Whenever you speak, write or even publicly discuss issues – whether difficult to address or not, it is vital to have researched, understood and retained as many of the key facts that you can, and to have developed a viewpoint or interpretation which fits with the information you have received.
 
Facts and the genuine knowledge that you have are the anchors which give you credibility in the public eye.
 
Writing & producing literature
 
When writing about topics, you will normally have the luxury of time to validate information and facts before you send or publish whatever you have produced. It is a very good habit to use it and ensure that you have included as much factual data as you can to support your argument or conclusions.
 
Speaking, debate & Interviews
 
The upside of public speaking, debate and scheduled interviews is that you will normally be aware of what you will be asked to talk about, or what specific points or issues you may wish to raise.
 
As with writing or preparing documents that you will later publish, you should research your subject well, prepare key facts to support what you will say and be comfortable that you can communicate your interpretation without losing your way or talking your way around the houses.
 
The downside of public speaking, debate and interviews of any kind, is that is likely that you will be asked questions to which you have not prepared a response.
 
If you keep on top of your subject, and think about the implications of all new facts as you do, your preparedness will allow you to provide responses that demonstrate how well researched you are.
 
Sometimes, you will get asked a question of some kind for which it was in no way possible to prepare. When you do, don’t bluff, blag or be tempted to lie or shift the focus on to something or someone else.
 
The best thing you can do is come clean; be honest and tell the interviewer or person questioning you that you don’t have that information to hand, that you were unaware of the events/actions that they have raised, or that you are not in a position to comment at that stage.
 
Even a Prime Minister, with all the support that they have can and will be caught out by questions that they were not expecting. It is human to not have the answers to everything and the people who might vote for you will think of you as being much stronger for being consistently honest, rather than if you lie in an attempt to cover up feeling momentarily weak.
 
Suggestions:
 
  • Be as prepared as possible
  • Research your subjects as widely as you can
  • Use credible sources for information
  • When you write, use facts and validated information as anchors to build your arguments and conclusions upon. Use links to your sources as much as possible
  • When you are going to be interviewed or speak publicly and know what you might be talking about, research the subject and have your facts and interpretation ready
  • If you are asked a question in which the questioner provides news or information you were previously unaware of, do not respond to the information it as if it were a credible fact
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, come clean and be honest. Say you don’t know and never be tempted to lie – no matter how easy it might feel to do so
  • If you feel put on the spot, don’t point the finger, start blaming others or make it personal about someone else in an attempt to get yourself out of bother

Make critical thinking your second nature

July 3, 2018 1 comment
Sadly, critical thinking – or the skill of breaking down information and identifying the relevant points facts within a message is not something which is often taught in a way which really helps people to become discerning in respect of what they read, hear or see.
 
We’ve all heard of ‘fake news’. So much of the information we receive is now being questioned that we can easily fall into the trap of discounting or ignoring sources which we do not already know or use – just because they are unfamiliar, whilst we can also place to much reliance upon the sources that we have always used.
 
A significant level of the content of all news we access is simply opinion. Whilst an ‘angle’ makes us feel happy when we are reading a source with which we unthinkingly identify with (The paper we have always read, or a political blog which echo’s the particular brand of politics we follow etc), it is easy, even for the most intelligent of us to overlook key facts, events and possibilities, when the noise of the writer or speakers opinion has drowned out the points which are not a key part of what they want us to hear.
 
Giving a genuine voice and true leadership to voters requires politicians and community representatives to have an open mind; to be able to analyse information and pick out the relevant details or salient points – often in real time, which could be a conversation or a debate, and then effectively translate it in terms of its impact(s) and consequence(s).
 
In the local and national news
 
The good thing about critical thinking, is it is a skill which can be learned and developed.
 
Focusing on points of information about actions taken and events that have alraedy happened, rather than what a commentator thinks about it OR what they are speculating will happen as a result of an action or event is a very good place to begin.
 
Equally, information about planned or scheduled events is helpful to know. Whereas what a commentator tells us they think is likely to happen during that event helps nobody.
 
If you only follow news from one or perhaps two different sources each day, it would be sensible to start following other sources too, and definitely ones which you might immediately feel uncomfortable about planning to read or follow.
 
If you follow the headlines from all the main newspapers and magazines on your Facebook feed, or on Twitter for instance (No you don’t need to subscribe to them all), you will soon start to become attuned to the real content of the news and start disregarding the noise that you have no need to follow.
 
Word of mouth, gossip and the things that ‘people you know’ tell you
 
As a potential candidate, thinking about running in a local council election, it’s is easy to ignore the national news and to think the rules for the local information that ‘finds its way to you’ are different.
 
It isn’t. They aren’t.
 
If anything, you would be wise adopt an even more robust approach to dealing with the information which finds its way to you by ‘word of mouth’ and gossip – which in this sense means anything that ANYBODY in your community tells you, that you would not otherwise have been aware of.
 
Inhabitants of the political world, whether they are politicians, activists, officers or community workers can be some of the worst gossips you could imagine. It is easy to become snared in the elephant trap of assumed truth, trusting a source which has told you something that they heard from someone else, who heard it from someone else, who themselves heard it from someone else who was actually there when something happened…
 
Suggestions:
 
  • TRUST NOTHING YOU CANNOT SUBSTANTIATE!!!
  • Run your own race. DO NOT unwittingly become the voice or mouthpiece for someone else’s campaign – whatever it might be, as their words can easily invalidate your own
  • Always listen carefully to everyone, whether you consider them to be friend or foe. Filter out their opinion from what they say or write and translate the validity of the messages that they are really providing.
  • Do not repeat, resend or retain gossip or speculation in any form UNLESS you need to do so for purposes such as making a legitimate complaint about someone else’s conduct or behaviour to an appropriate authority
  • If news you are given could be useful, check out the facts and confirm whether the information is true.
  • ALWAYS validate information you are going to bade or build an argument on.
  • If you have ‘validated’ information, keep a record of the source and if possible, a link to any articles, documents or copies of the information that you have found.
  • Quote these sources when you speak or write, but only repeat or reproduce the information exactly as it was published by the original source. NEVER CHANGE ANYTHING YOU USE FROM ANOTHER SOURCE – NO MATTER HOW TEMPTING OR EASY IT MAY SEEM
  • Follow as many different news sources as possible on Facebook and Twitter
  • Watch the news and make notes of what the news actually is
  • Watch current affairs programmes and focus on the facts which guests use to build their arguments vs the opinion they wrap around them

Ethics & Principles for Politics

Regrettably, we live at a time when many people think that Politicians always lie and that they don’t have any principles.

Some of today’s politicians have adopted the principle that if they tell people things are different, that they will simply be different.

They won’t.

As you are here reading How to get Elected, I am hopeful that you are one of a growing number of public minded individuals who want to put aside self-interest, and work towards the goal of creating something better for all, whether that should be working alone, or working with other like-minded people – no matter what background they might come from.

Having rules that you stick to – a personal code if you like, is essential to have in your toolkit, if you are determined to succeed as a local campaigner and good politician, working towards the goal of delivering something better for all.

Ultimately, we all have the ability to make choices and decisions which rise above any form of bias and focus on the best results for all – even when those around us argue that we are being impractical, or suggest that we simply don’t understand how everything works.

Doing what is right can be a very lonely place. But you can always sleep at night.

If you always stick to what you know to be right, remain open to changing your mind when you realise you are wrong, and treat others with respect and courtesy at all times – even when their behaviour has upset you in some way, you will never go far wrong.

Here are the few basic principles I believe all politicians could benefit from adopting, using and ‘living’ in politics. If we all did so, this Country would soon become a very different place!

People before Politics.

Every decision that Politicians make should be focused on the benefit to the majority of people; not the priorities of the few or of the Politicians themselves.

Practicality before Perfection.

We all like the idea of living in a perfect world, but perfection can only ever be an aim in an imperfect world and Politicians must make decisions based upon their practical impact; not just on what they would like to see.

Policies made in isolation lead to isolationist Policies.

Just as one policy may be used as an excuse not for enacting another, new policies should not be created without consideration of their real impact upon or collectively with others.

Politicians now need to review the whole System and not use the size of this task as an excuse for not doing so.

Politics is better when it isn’t Personal.

Politics should never be about personalities and when it is, it is a sure sign that those talking are thinking primarily about themselves.

Fear is no excuse in itself.

Any policy made only with emotion and feeling in mind does not consider the wider picture and the full implications.

Too many decisions have historically been made by Politicians because of a climate of fear.

Over-reaction and under-reaction can be destructive in equal measure and however emotive a subject can be, emotions are personal and do not reflect consideration for what is best for the majority in its strictest and most comprehensive sense.

One size never fits all.

We are all different and policies must recognise and embrace those differences in all ways, but without recourse to any form of discrimination whether that be positive or negative.

Decisions affecting us all similarly should be made by Central Government, whilst decisions based upon Locality should rest in the Locality with Local People and their Political Representatives.

Central Government has as much responsibility to reflect, consider and act upon the decisions made by Local Representatives as it does have the right to ask others to respect the decisions which are made universally for us all.

Lifestyle choices should be for those living that life.

The preferences and actions of individuals should never be questioned or put in doubt so long as they do not compromise the physical safety, security, lifestyle and freedom of choice of others. A crisis of conscience for one, is no excuse in itself to prevent the lifestyle choices of another and Government should never support it as such.

The Count

When you’ve got to the very end of the Election Campaign and Election Day itself, the only thing left when the Polling Stations close at 10pm, is the Count itself.

What usually happens next is usually a mad dash between the Polling Stations and the venue that has been selected to hold the Count.

Local Authority Election Counts can be delayed if the Election Day itself is shared with a National Election or Referendum. If this is the case, the Count will probably take place on the Friday after the Election.

The time of the Count  itself is always at the discretion of the Returning Officer who will be in charge at the Count itself.

The Count will begin as soon as possible at the allotted time, but can be delayed if Ballot Boxes have been delayed or if a complaint has been made regarding the conduct of the Election.

As a Candidate, you will automatically be invited to the Count and asked to identify anyone you wish to take with you, as access is normally by invitation only.

It is normal to take your spouse or partner, along with your agent and/or some close family members or people who have worked on your campaign.

Numbers of those able to attend will be limited. So don’t be disappointed if you are only able to take one or two key people with you.

There are no rules that say Candidates must attend the Count. So if you feel you would rather not go, nobody will chase you.

Once the Count begins, not all Wards and Divisions will be counted at the same time and you may have to wait for your own Count to begin – so take refreshments or have money available to buy some, as these will normally be provided. (Check with your Democratic Services Department if you are unsure)

When your Count is underway, you and your representatives will be allowed to watch the counting take place. It is a really good idea to take this opportunity as you will soon begin to get an idea of how the election has gone for you.

When the Count has been completed, the Returning Officer will speak to the Candidates quietly first, to confirm the results.

If the Count is very close, you can request a recount.

Recounts are worth requesting if there are literally only a few votes between winning a seat and not being elected. A small margin of error is always possible, and I have seen an Independent win a seat against a Party Candidate on a recount, when the initial count had suggested a result that went the other way!

When the results are either clear, or have been accepted by all the Candidates, the Returning Officer will then formally announce the Result of the Election to the Hall.

The good thing about being told quietly first, is that if the result has been a disappointment, you will have a few moments to gather yourself before everyone else is told.

Regrettably, Counts can feel pretty raucous at times, especially if the Political Party Members are in a competitive mood.

The thing to remember is that it is all noise and even Candidates who are seeking election for the 3rd or perhaps 4th time will be feeling very nervous up and until the Results are finally in.

 

Election Day

July 3, 2018 1 comment

Election Day itself is likely to be the busiest day of your Election Campaign.

Why? – because you do need to remind people to vote!!!

If you have enough money left within your Election Expenses Budget, the first thing you can do – preferably before people have left for work, is deliver an additional ‘get out the vote’ leaflet or note, just to remind people that its Election Day and you are hoping for their support.

During the day itself, you should visit all the Polling Stations that are serving the Ward or Division where you are seeking election.

The staff running the Polling Stations have often committed themselves to the full fifteen hour day and perhaps more, so politely introducing yourself and perhaps thanking them too will be a great way to show your support.

If you have been told by older or infirm Voters within the Ward or Division that they are going to Vote for you, there is nothing wrong with offering them a lift and helping them to the door of the Polling Station and back. This is something you need to be minded of whilst you are canvassing for planning ahead.

If you have enough support, you can appoint ‘tellers’ to ask and monitor how many of the people who said they would Vote for you have actually attended, as they leave the Polling Station. (You/They can cross off the names of Voters supporting you against the notes you have made on a copy of the Electoral Roll)

This is a long and boring task and requires people who have a lot of patience, as Voters are under no obligation to tell anyone how they voted, and tellers will as such often find themselves rebuffed.

The benefit of appointing teller is that as the evening of Election Day arrives, you can target your missing voters and literally ‘knock them up’ to remind them to get out and vote.

Believe me, it certainly works and I have witnessed candidates knocking on doors as late as 9pm to gather perhaps no more than 15 votes in that last stage of the day, then going on to secure their seat by only 10!

When the Polling Stations have closed, there should be enough time to get freshened up and have a quick bite to eat before the Count will be ready to begin.

My best advice is that you use it well, because an overnight Count can make your Election Day a very long one indeed!

The Opening of Postal Votes

An increasing number of voters now take the opportunity to vote by post.

Postal Votes have to be in before Election Day, and a special session will be called for the Opening of Postal Votes for Each Ward and Division.

Your local Democratic or Electoral Services Department will be able to tell you when the Postal Votes will be opened for your area.

You will be allowed to attend perhaps with one other person, but will normally be expected to confirm who will be attending prior to the session itself.

Attendance is not required, and your time is likely to be better used working on your Election Campaign, talking to potential voters and knocking on doors.

The Agents for the Political Parties usually attend the Opening of Postal Votes on behalf of candidates, just to check that procedures are followed and everything appears normal.

The process is usually governed very tightly in order to prevent observers from gaining an idea of how the Postal Votes have been allocated.

What you should remember is that with Postal Votes being cast earlier in the Election, the Result can look very different to that which is received at the Count itself.

Election Agents

Once you have your Candidate Pack and the Formal Election Campaign is underway, you will hear a lot about Election Agents.

Don’t worry. It sounds like a very important role, but in a council election, you are unlikely to ever need one.

In fact, it is not uncommon for Election Agents to delay things up for candidates who are running on behalf of a Political Party, who will be unlikely to have a choice whether they use one or not.

You could say that an Election Agent is rather like a candidate manager who is recognised formally by the Electoral Process.

An Election Agent can do many things on your behalf, including submitting your Candidate Forms and your Election Return, after the Results are known. They can also assume the role of key point of contact with the Democratic Services Department and be the first port of call if there is a legal issue during the campaign.

As a lone Independent candidate, there will be very little benefit to you having an Election Agent.

In many ways it will be much better for you to assume the responsibilities of being your own Agent, unless you are unable to rely on the support of an Agent who has experience of the Electoral System and running in elections before.

The Political Parties usually have professional Election Agents who will work from a local or regional office, where in some cases several Election Agents will be based. Whilst they can take away a lot of the administrative requirements of the Election Process, they are also likely to be responsible and carrying out the same role for all the candidates running for that Party in that same Election. As such, times and deadlines can be stretched by the efforts of candidates which might not be as sharp as your own, as a Party Election Agent will group all of your submissions together, in order to save on their time.

Your Competition

Unless you are fortunate enough to find yourself in an uncontested election, you will have competition from other candidates during the Election Campaign itself, and possibly before it too.

It’s very easy to lose focus on what you are doing yourself and be unsettled by what other candidates might be doing, particularly if they publish a message which sounds very strong, or are featured by the local media in some way when you have not been.

This experience is quite normal for anyone getting into politics for the first time, and one that even a lot of experienced politicians have too!

What you should bear in mind is that when you are promoting a message and ‘putting yourself out there’ in public, it is perfectly normal to become sensitive to anything that might bring into question what you are doing.

The good news is that this is normally an emotional response rather than a logical one. In fact, your competition will very probably feel in some way insecure when they become aware of anything you do.

These kinds of response are normal.

The very important thing you need to remember is that every moment you spend worrying about your competition or what they are doing, is a moment wasted that you could have spent positively promoting you or the work that you have, could and will do.

As far as your competition is concerned, keep perspective on everything you hear. It is in their interests to make you feel uncomfortable and all you need to be focused on is everything that you do.

Run your own race!

Your Manifesto & Election Pledges

Getting elected is rarely about just one thing. Different people have different priorities and in terms of the people we elect to represent us locally, our choices will be based no differently.

Realistically, this means that even if there is one local issue that you feel really passionate about, you will need to broaden your understanding of other issues too.

You need to be able to communicate what you have to offer in a way that will appeal to all of your potential voters. Not just a few.

Questionnairescanvassing and identifying the issues is a process which takes time, but is well worth it.

It means that when the time for your Election Campaign arrives, you will be equipped and have a good understanding of 3 to 5 real issues facing people locally – perhaps more. Issues that you can use to develop a Manifesto upon which you will build your Campaign. Issues upon which you can base your Pledges – that’s your commitment to voters regarding what you will aim to do.

Your Election Pledges need to be realistic, but aspirational. Solid, but with an open appreciation of what the political environment may allow you to achieve or realistically do. Simple, but with an understanding of the complexity of what it takes to get things done in government.

It is important that you never lie. That you never create issues just to get attention. Or make promises that you know you can never keep.

Always be sure that your Election Pledges reflect what you can realistically influence and not responsibilities of another authority – i.e. relating to something that in the role you would be elected to, you could never actually do.

Use language that shows enthusiasm for what you are doing, as genuine passion always has an advantage in gaining support and convincing people that you can actually win.

However, you should never mislead people by talking in a way which you know deep down is not you, or shows you to be something that you know you are not.

REMEMBER: You can fight for anything. But there is a difference between saying you will fight for something and saying you will change something.

Be honest about you plans and what you know you can actually do. People will then be far more supportive of you.

Suggestions for Pledges:

Unless you are campaigning with a running mate in a multiple seat Ward or Division, you should never have the same Election Pledges as any other Candidate. Even then, you might only share a few.

From this point of view, it is essential that you identify your own issues as a basis for your Election Pledges and Manifesto.

However, the issues which will appeal to most people can usually be narrowed down to a few.

It will be useful for you to research and understand how they relate to the local people who you are going to ask to vote for you and tailor them to your area.

These may include:

  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Building on the Greenbelt
  • Buses and Public Transport
  • Bus Shelters
  • Council Tax
  • Community Resources & Public Buildings (Museums, Recreation Centres etc)
  • Community Transport
  • Dog Bins
  • Environment
  • Flooding & Flood Protection
  • Green Spaces
  • Libraries
  • Litter
  • Local Grants
  • Parking
  • Planning
  • Policing
  • Potholes
  • Refuse Collections
  • Road Safety
  • Social care
  • Schools
  • Speeding
  • Street Cleansing
  • Young People

REMEMBER: Depending on the level and type of authority you are seeking election to, you will be restricted to what you can actually influence or do. Do not make promises you know you can never keep!

 

Proposers, Seconders and Signatories to support your Nomination as a Candidate

To formally become a candidate in a local election, once the election has been called, you will need to submit the signatures of Proposer and a Seconder (for All Elections) on your Nomination Form.

For elections to District Level Authorities and above, you will also be required to submit the signatures of a further eight people (Signatories) who support your Nomination as a Candidate.

All of these signatures MUST come from residents who live within the Ward or Division in which you are seeking election, who in turn MUST themselves be recorded and eligible to vote on the Electoral Roll for that same area.

It is a really good idea to work out who you are going to ask to be your Proposer, your Seconder and your other Signatories as early as you possibly can.

In all cases, you must make your Proposers, Seconders and Signatories aware that their name will be noted as a public record, and be published as part of the Formal Notice of Candidates, which will be circulated locally within the Ward or Division once the Nomination window has closed and all Candidates for the Election in that area have been recognised.

If they are unhappy with being publicly recognised for their support of your candidacy, you should not use their signatures. In no circumstances should you use any signature without them being aware of what it has been used for.

Things to consider:

It’s really easy to make a mistake on Nomination Papers. Not in the sense of what information you give generally, but by using a Proposer, Seconder or Signatory who isn’t eligible to support you. If this happens and you submit your Nomination Papers, the Democratic Services Department will reject your Nomination and you will have to start all over again – and when I say start all over again, that means going back to all of your Signatories and getting them to sign again, because you cannot make changes to your Nomination Form!

The best way to make sure you remove as much risk of a problem as possible are as follows:

  • Check with your Proposer, Seconder and Signatories that they are ALL happy to support you, and have their name recognised in the public domain.
  • Check that your Proposer, Seconder and Signatories are ALL eligible voters and that present on the Electoral Roll for the Ward or Division where you will be seeking election.
  • If possible, have two different sets of Signatories. Yes, that’s 2x Proposers, 2x Seconders, 16x normal Signatories and complete 2 separate Nomination Forms. (Check with your Democratic or Electoral Services Department if they will allow you to make copies. Otherwise, make sure you get yourself a duplicate set of Candidate Forms)
  • Get ALL of your signatures as early as possible during the Formal Campaign.
  • Submit your completed Candidate Forms to your Democratic Services Department as early as possible – just in case you need to correct a mistake! (You will normally be given a schedule of dates with the Candidate Pack and from this will be able to find out when the Democratic Services Department will be making appointments to receive Candidate submissions. Get an appointment as early as possible!)

And the don’ts…

  • DO NOT simply accept a Proposer’s, Seconder’s or Signatories word that they are on the Electoral Roll without checking that they are. (Some people are unaware that they are not Registered. Others never got around to Register. A few may have even lost their Registration without being aware. It doesn’t matter why they aren’t there; you need signatures from people who are OR YOUR CANDIDACY WILL NOT BE VALID!!!)

 

Election Expenses

July 3, 2018 1 comment

As a candidate, it’s really important that you understand there are rules governing elections that you MUST follow.

If you don’t follow the rules, you could yourself being disqualified as a candidate before you even get started on your formal campaign. If elected, you could find yourself losing your seat. Worse still, you could even find yourself being charged with a criminal offence.

Some of the most important rules you need to focus on as early as you can, are those concerning your election expenses.

The basic rules:

All candidates are entitled to spend the same amount on their election campaign.

You can spend less than the allocated spend for your election if you wish. But you cannot spend more, as this would give you an unfair advantage in a democratic process.

You (or your election agent) MUST submit a signed declaration of your election expenditure after the election has taken place. The information you provide must be accurate to the best of your knowledge and understanding.

As an Independent, whatever you spend on an election campaign must be provided by you or by your supporters.

There is currently no public funding available for election campaigns in the UK of any kind.

If you have no formal organisation supporting you, it is essential that you keep a record of where any money or goods/services in kind you have received has come from, along with the financial value of what was received.

How much you can spend:

The key information you will need about how much you can spend on your election campaign should be contained within the candidate pack you will receive from the Democratic or Electoral Services Department. However, the Democratic or Electoral Services Department will answer questions for you concerning election finances when information is available.

If you are not provided with the figure for your specific maximum election spend by the Democratic Services Department, you will need two figures to calculate what you can spend in total on your election campaign.

They are:

  • The total number of voters in the Ward or Division where you are going to be a candidate. [Electorate]
  • The allowance or allocation per voter for the Ward or Division where you are going to be a candidate. [Allocation]

The total number of voters will be available from the Electoral Roll and can be checked with the Democratic Services Department.

The Allocation figure – per voter, should be in your candidate pack.

The calculation for your maximum election spend can be made as follows:

 

Electorate  x  Allocation  =  Maximum Election Spend

 

For example, in a Ward with an Electorate or total of 2149 people registered to vote, where the spend or Allocation per voter is 39p (£0.39), the Maximum Election Spend would be £838.11 (Eight Hundred and Thirty Eight Pounds and Eleven Pence)

The calculation would be as follows:

 

2149  x  0.39  =  838.11

 

The Allocation per voter will probably sound small when you first see it and will almost certainly be in a multiple of Pence. But when you calculate your budget in this way, it will begin to make a lot more sense.

What you can spend your budget on:

This is where you need to be really careful. Anything you spend on your campaign – either directly OR indirectly, is likely to be considered as an election expense.

This means that if you have 5 volunteers helping you during the campaign and after canvassing one day you all go to the pub and you buy them lunch, the value of the bill you pay might be considered as an election expense.

What you should spend your budget on will be things like:

  • Printing
  • Paper
  • Printer Cartridges
  • Design & Artistic Work (If you cannot do it yourself or find a volunteer to assist)
  • Phone calls
  • Rosettes
  • Stickers
  • Loud hailer or megaphone hire

You will need to be frugal and buy only what you need. Anything purchased specifically for the election must be accounted for – even if you do not use it or need it. Make sure you buy the minimum number of extra items possible to allow for mistakes, damage and wastage and no more.

You do not have to account for the time of volunteers, no matter what they do for you, as long as they have not been paid by you, or by someone else on behalf of you – even if that payment was offered by a third party as a gift.

Ideally, your expenditure should be for goods and services ONLY. Otherwise, things will get messy and probably expensive very quickly. Your budget won’t go that far!

REMEMBER:

  • You only have to stick to the rules on Election Expenses during the formal Election Period.
  • Whatever work you have done and whatever you have spent and used BEFORE the Election is formally called will not count against your Election Expenses.
  • This is why giving yourself as much time as possible to campaign and develop your presence in the community BEFORE an election is potentially so beneficial.
  • You can begin your campaign at any time!

Other: 

If you are unsure of anything at any stage, ALWAYS give the Democratic or Electoral Services Department a call and preferably obtain the response you need by e-mail.

 

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