My thoughts are very mixed. On the one hand we managed to steer clear of 4th place and the UKIP/Independent meme. I wonder what the balance was between doorstep and leaflets?
I have reached a few conclusions:
1. The age of Rennard is dead in its philosophy – throw enough literature at a place and it provides a `bandwagon` effect. Not when everybody else does! Glad to see that there wasn’t a surfeit of vacuous `women’s magazines` – it works a bit where the leading contender is a man but that’s about it. In Crewe & Nantwich very few people were fooled.
2. The need for doorstep activity with experienced campaigners who can technically report back both professionally and objectively. I’ve been picking up the UKIP trends for some weeks on the telephone. UKIP now take from all sides even from the Lib Dems – `It’s you or the Independence Party` is the cry meaning `rebellious non-mainstreamers` that must have added at least 500 to the UKIP’s 4000 total. They now also take from the BNP who some people have now seen through.
3. The Conservatives didn’t do that well. This is a by-election where people were bound to put their crosses to the main anti-Labour challenger. They achieved 39.5% which is below the magic 40 number that gives Governments some moral legitimacy. I doubt if they will achieve that in Norwich North next time.
4. Chloe Smith’s `contract with Norwich` went down well there – we are behind the curve when it comes to campaigning. Note: not literature but campaigning.
5. It’s time to decide our three main messages and repeat them ad nauseum. We also need to seal the deal on our `TINA` messages. I can think of two: `you only get the best economy when we change things for good` and `you only get Vince Cable as Chancellor by voting Liberal Democrat`.
6. Presenting amateurs with 5 sheets of telephone canvas with a complicated script doesn’t really work (as happened to a friend of mine) – this needs to be done by experienced campaigners. I would suggest Voter ID in such a place as NN to start with going on to more technical work later on.
7. This is not to deny the candidature of April Pond nor the energy of the people on the ground without whom we would be in 4th place. This is just to say that we now need to rewrite the Rennard rule-book and start afresh engaging people on the doorstep. Oh, and for once, Irfan Ahmed has a good idea. And no I’m not talking about emails. Have a look.