Not many are happy about what has happened. Myself, I was devastated.
I lost three government jobs because of the coalition, but I always changed three laws through campaigning with the charity I started working for afterwards, so it’s levelled out.
I’ve worked in media relations and campaigning for a number of years now and so I wanted to offer some tips on how I think this government can be combated.
We’ve all been handed a job that won’t appear on our CVs, but one that could be more important than anything we’ve ever done.
We’re all now political campaigners.
Take it offline – as people have pointed out since the election result, online engagement doesn’t lead to offline changes of opinion. If it did, we’d not be in the situation we are. Never forget that your Twitter followers aren’t representative of the nation, so don’t blow your blood pressure getting angry online. Instead be effective offline.
If you take the debate offline, then you stand a much better chance of reaching someone who doesn’t already agree with you with your logical and thought out argument.
Don’t sign another online petition – generally politicians don’t care about an online petition. They don’t care for a number of reasons:
1. Most signatories don’t live in their constituency, so therefore they have no obligation to listen.
2. The Government run their own petition site, so why would they listen to the campaigning petition websites?
3. People sign through outrage, and the Katie Hopkins, Jeremy Clarkson and other similar petitions have hugely devalued what an online petition means.
Pick up a pen – politicians listen to letters from their constituents. They do. You may not believe it but their staff open every letter and report back on what people are contacting them about. So once a week, or once a month, pick up a pen and write to your local MP about the issues that concern you.
You can hand deliver your letters to their office or invest in a book of stamps.
Go say hello – every MP has a surgery, so go and talk to them. In my experience this can effective and again, more powerful than signing a petition.
By going and talking to an MP, you’re letting them know what matters to you, the person who is responsible for them keeping their job next time around.
There are no friendly mainstream press, only manipulatable press – you only have to look as far as The Independent to see that even the supposedly more rational press can be bought and dictated to by their owners
The Guardian is attentive to the cause of right, but as a rule of thumb, people who read The Guardian aren’t pro-Tory so they’re only preaching to the converted.
This can be combatted by working on message. Everyone has their weakness, a story they’ll not be able to resist – but the message has to be tailored to their wants.
My first point of call would be the social affairs correspondent of newspapers and online media outlets. On the whole they tend to be more affable to a story of injustice, so if you know of a story that you believe should be covered then take the time to email them to tell them about the story, and then follow it up.
You may not like it, but everyone is a quotable and photographable spokesperson for the left – if you graffiti a war memorial, then you’ve screwed up any chance of any positive press surround the march you’re on.
Look around you, at the thousands of faces of people who are suffering, and tell every single one that you’ve stopped their voices being heard on that day. If you haven’t got the bravery to do that, then do not even think about picking up a spray can.
If a camera or microphone is pointed at you, don’t scream and shout and call them ‘Tory c*nts’, remember that you’re a wonderful and articulate human being so say something which reflects that. “I’m here today because…*insert your reason for being there without swearing*.
Take notice – I ran a campaign against the bedroom tax. About a year before it started I asked the people I was campaigning for to complete the government consultation on bedroom tax, but none of them did because it was at such an early stage of development.
Eventually we managed to secure some concessions after the bedroom tax law had come in, but not many, because people hadn’t been vocal early enough.
If the law comes in, it’s too late.
Laws begin to be changed months before most people realise. The government run consultations, and anyone can respond to these – so respond.
Contact a charity that works in the area that you’re concerned about and ask them what government consultations are currently open. They’ll be able to advise you, they’ll be able to share their own policies, and this means you’ll be able to complete the consultations as an informed and rational member of the electorate.
Don’t forget that MPs are, in general, hugely intelligent and backed up by armies of advisors. To take them on is a unique and thrilling battle of intellects.
They have to listen, it’s their job, but they don’t listen to swearing and shouting. Protests don’t bother them – remember the millions of people marching against going into Iraq? Around 1 in 50 of the population actively stepped out against it, and it still happened. That’s the scale of what we’re facing. But it can be done.
Fight from within – join a political party. That will entitle you to say how the party is run. So then you can’t complain that no one represents you.
Myself, I’d love to see a million people join the Tory party and force them by their own rules to change their own party policies.