Freesteel Blog » The Publicwhip Crewe Two

The Publicwhip Crewe Two

Monday, May 19th, 2008 at 3:30 pm Written by:

Following our escapades on Tuesday in relation to the critical by-election nearby, Aidan and I went down again on Saturday with a new colour leaflet because it was the right thing to do — even if nobody else bothered to join us.

I’d say it’s because we’re stepping into the no-man’s land on the border between totally ineffective on-line democratic activism, and the physical world where the game of political reality actually takes place.

Here are the links:

So what next?

The main lesson is there is a lot to learn. What we have done here in the capacity of a non-party generic-selected issue-based election campaigning centred around on-line tools was Version 0.1.

Someone had to do it.

The parties have been doing it for decades, and have learned the ropes and the tricks of the trade over generations. The actual policies held by the parties are often ephemeral, like the players on a city football team. What seems to matter is that your side wins, even if every player was purchased from the opposing side during the previous year. If voters were actually aware of and cared about the policies they were choosing between, then elections would matter. Until then, it’s only about who has the best manager and commands the most money.

We need to think about what to do for the next by-election. This may be in Henley if Boris Johnson resigns his seat. That’s how one learns what to do for the next General Election, so that what you come out with isn’t some crumby web operation you hurriedly slapped together in the first week. Things need to get going now. Stuff to do includes:

Website design – I don’t want something pretty. I want something that works. The design must be data-driven. I have gathered quite a lot of data from the website I currently have. I am inclined to add more monitoring tools and participate in more street-level demonstrations. Anyone who wants to contribute should have ideas about sending different versions of the webpage to users in an effort to find out what works best.

Leaflet and poster design – This is where the political parties have a lot of experience. I’m not a designer at all, but things improved with time. For example, the first leaflet had:

Energy – Alan Simpson MP proposed a renewable energy tariff to pay household consumers for electricity they generate and exported back into the national grid.
On 30 April 2008, 125 Conservative MPs, 37 Labour MPs and 35 LibDem MPs voted for this; however 252 Labour MPs voted against it.

In the second leaflet, this became:

* A law to create a renewable energy tariff to pay household consumers for electricity generated from solar power and put back into the national grid – 30/4/2008

The party-policy chart is interesting. It was made as a paper version of the website in case people didn’t want to type in the URL which we were going to be handing out. People were actually able to fill it in, although they didn’t necessarily know how to read it properly.

As with the web-page, multiple versions are necessary to see what comes out as effective. Poster design would also be quite a challenge. What does it tell people you stand for?

Leaflet distribution – Aidan quipped half in jest that we could run a half-day course in delivering leaflets through letter boxes. I got quite a few cuts on the middle finger of my left hand. Coordinating a leaflet distribution is quite a job, as you can imagine. It’s easy to spec out a really killer application built on top of Open Street Map data where it could calculate optimal distribution routes, and where volunteers could log on and pick them, and report that they have done that area.

Once house numbers have been incorporated into the system, they could be cross-referenced with the electoral role, and the correct number of leaflets could be allocated in the wards where the complete set of data has been gathered. There’s no point in delivering to addresses where nobody can vote, or where they’ve registered for a postal vote which they’ve already sent off.

A tight list of instructions derived from these data-sources and the map could make even a novice delivery person perform as effectively as a pro who has been beating the same ward for years.

Further action and ideas needed

A public whip by-election pledge has been created!
Go sign it

1 Comment

  • 1. Freesteel&hellip replies at 24th March 2009, 12:52 pm :

    […] Party which got 118 votes on the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. (For the record, PublicWhip got none by wasting no time with electoral […]

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