Post UK Election: Next Steps for Campaigners

Lots of UK campaigners, who tend not to be Conservatives, will no doubt be feeling deflated and dispirited at the way the UK General Election turned out.

So if you are running a campaigning NGO, what should you do ?

There will be no shortage of knee-jerk post-mortems, with or without forensic analysis. Here are my equally un-researched thoughts.

  1. Don’t try to plan based on how the political system plays out. There will be endless analysis of the effect of how the Scottish referendum was played by the main parties, the media dominance of UKIP over the last years, where the LibDem vote went, and what might have happened if someone else than Ed Miliband had been fronting the Labour Party. That’s for the political classes to do but hardly any of it – probably none of it – will tell you anything useful about what to do as campaigners.
  2. Unless there is somehow a sudden reform of the UK electoral system so it converts to Proportional Representation (possible but unlikely), expect a surge in support for campaign groups. That happened when Mrs Thatcher seemed to keep winning elections despite widespread public dislike of her and her governments. The consequent gloom and feelings of powerlessness drove some of the more activist-inclined and more universalist-minded souls towards unconventional politics (mainly but not only Pioneers): ie informal public politics, or ‘unpolitics’ such as NGO campaigns.   It will probably happen again, possibly even in Scotland, if the SNP Great Awakening fails to deliver a Great Feeling that everything is different.
  3. Start now, thinking about what you want to normalise, so that it becomes a mainstream concern, not something seen as a ‘campaign issue’. Only by achieving that, will such concerns be picked up and included in manifestos, and just as importantly, understood by politicians at an intuitive level rather than just by a few odballs and researchers. All political minds – ie the ‘minds’ of parties – are rather small and very (small-c) conservative, not least because the fewer ‘key issues’ there are, the more workable the agenda.

It is far too late to start trying to get any change in party positions or get things into manifestos, once an Election starts to occupy the minds of individual politicians. If you now face a five year wait for another General Election, its years 1 and 2 where you need to plant seeds, grow them to fruition and make them an unavoidable part of the social landscape. Success comes when the parties all adopt your concern and then seek to differentiate themselves on how they will deliver on it. Failure is usually associated with backing by only one party or the political margins, and just getting ‘nods’ and ‘mentions’ for media and social media purposes (ie politicians seeing it as mainly a PR exercise).

This means that even quite large demonstrations that lots of people care about X, usually have no effect in the run up to a British General Election, if the parties have not already embedded it in their own DNA.

  1. This (above) will hardly ever be achieved by one campaign. It means a swarm of campaigns, probably not obviously linked, or not linked at all.
  2. To perhaps state the obvious, this also means your target is not politicians but society. This is about creating the conditions with which to later ‘make the weather’. It requires starting a long way out.
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3 Responses to Post UK Election: Next Steps for Campaigners

  1. Kev Coleman says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more on the point of educating the masses about issues of importance and also educating the politicians of all parties. If they become educated about an issue that is showing apparent concern among the masses then they will start to take note very quickly. Especially if the issues are being raised in their constituency.
    The other issue is the press and the media. For far too long they have been the domain of those with vested interests. There is nothing free about the press and media these days. The issues of concern would have to be issues of concern to the owners of the press and media outlets too.
    So first things first. What is the single biggest threat to our life and liberty that is on the immediate horizon? An issue that if implemented will be forever, irreversible and totally destructive? TTIP springs readily to mind. It incorporates all that is bad about capitalists and fascists and serves to enslave the people in a system that allows no freedoms. Surveillance will be taken to an all time high and there will be nothing that can be organised that the powers that be won’t know about first and be well prepared to deal with.
    Second issue of concern is the NHS. This is linked to the first but it is also being run down deliberately by the Tory government priming it for privatisation with the claim that they tried everything to make it work and now the only option left is private sector ownership. We already know the truth about privatisation of public owned services and industries.
    Next issue of concern and one which is like the first irreversible once implemented and even more dangerously so is Genetically Engineered Crops and food. Once out there in the wild you cannot take it back.
    Final point I will make is Hydraulic Fracturing. An unconventional fuel that we neither need nor desire as a nation yet it goes to prove that this government is a dictatorship and not a democracy when it disregards the masses opposition to this destructive and highly polluting technology.
    For the people of the UK who are activists (pioneers?) there now appears to be an insurmountable mountain to climb if we are to avoid the problems I have listed above and I am sure many people can think of other issues of importance on a social and ethical level like blood sports (Fox Hunting) and Badger culling and HS2 (which we do not need) and the issues surrounding statehood (Scotland’s independence, Devo Max etc) and employment and immigration. However the above issues have far greater long term and permanent effects on our world let alone our national culture and the UK as a whole.
    I would be interested in other peoples thoughts but my pick would be tackle TTIP and remind the people that it has an ugly sister……TPP, which is all set to close the loop of trade deals around the entire planet. If that is fast tracked as is being pursued by the US Senate then we are all screwed.
    Best wishes
    Kev C

  2. Kev Coleman says:

    Oh and I nearly forgot. As I posted in my tweet of this article ‘The End of the World is Nigh’ only if we surrender. We can win but only if we fight back in a positive and well directed and unified way. There are too many NGO’s that all seem to be pulling in their own direction looking more for funding than for the moral and ethical imperatives that we all need to fight for. Our freedom is all our freedoms. It is not one NGOs or another’s to take individual ownership of. Remember- United we stand, divided we fall and doing nothing is not an option.

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