Insights from local Green Parties on my Elections Coordinator campaign

In standing for Elections Coordinator, I thought it was crucial to contact (at the very least) the coordinators and election coordinators of each local Green Party. Greens believe in the principle of subsidiarity, so our local parties are our lifeblood and the outworking of how the Green Party campaigns and presents itself around the country.

Here are the insights I got back, which I hope – regardless of the upcoming result – will be worked and acted upon by the next Elections Coordinator and Green Party Executive.

Amongst the responses from local parties, I found that there was…
• Acknowledgement of the challenges in terms of improving our overall organisation and communications since the Green Surge (which quadrupled our membership numbers).
• Desire that any changes nationally continue to respect and support the autonomy of local and regional parties, and scepticism of the trend towards increasing centralisation.
• Desire for the timing of information and resources to be improved (i.e. good stuff too late doesn’t have the desired impact), and the national party to dramatically improve its listening to data, insights and perspectives from the regions.
• Gratitude that I am campaigning for local parties’ views on the progressive alliance idea to be taken into account, and emphasis on the importance of local parties making decisions regarding the standing of candidates in an alliance situation.
• Scepticism that a progressive alliance will ever happen, or that local parties have a clear idea how it would work – and the importance of giving people clear information on several options before asking their views.
• Concern that if some local parties were asked not to stand a parliamentary candidate, then this would (to some extent) disenfranchise GP members/supporters by denying them the chance to vote Green, and we would lose the raison d’être and energy of local parties.
• Desire for Green Party to prepare for a snap General Election in which we stand in all seats and for the national party to offer advice and updates to local parties to practically help them.
• Keenness on my idea to reform Elections Committee to include representation from the regions.
• Dismay at the party’s record in by-elections and a view that these should be de-emphasised to focus more clearly on our present target to win (TTW) strategy, but a desire that local parties should be kept up-to-date with by-election results from across the country.
• Need for more professional targeting and campaigning at all levels.
• Highlighting of the difficulty of TTW in some areas, and the need to recognise and identify alternative strategies that can be adopted.
• Shock at the lack of any robust selection procedure for parliamentary candidates.
• Need for practical guidance on mobilising inactive members (ie most members) in many areas.
• A clear interest in the idea of parties twinning where they can learn from each other, as parties may be geographically separated but in a similar position electorally.

If you have any further views on these or any other electoral matter, I’d be interested to hear your views, either here, or on email: rob.telford@bristolgreenparty.org.uk

Rob Telford’s statement for the position of Green Party Executive (GPEx) Elections Coordinator

IMG_5240All political parties exist to stand in elections, and the Green Party is no exception. We are one party, driven by a passion for environmental and social justice, but we operate as hundreds of distinct local parties. This needs some coordination!

Proven track record of elections management
As a former councillor and a current ward and constituency campaign manager for Bristol Green Party, I have the skills necessary to help build an effective national strategy for winning elections at both council and Westminster levels. An active participant in the 2015 Bristol West parliamentary campaign which produced our largest swing (26.8%), I have also coordinated target ward campaigns in successive years in four different council wards, standing twice for election myself. This year, I was the election agent for eight of the 10 Bristol West council wards.

Building our national strategy
I am a supporter of progressive parties working together wherever possible, and – as a current council member of the Electoral Reform Society – I am excited by the idea of a pro-proportional representation agreement between Greens, Labour, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and SNP at the next general election. However, the decision of whether to stand Green candidates in elections must be made by local parties, not by our national leaders or executive. With this in mind, I will urgently initiate a comprehensive survey of local parties’ views so that we can develop a practical national negotiation strategy supported by a democratic mandate.

Improving communications
We need a comprehensive, pro-active plan for all forthcoming by-elections, so we can encourage members to campaign in them through email communications. I will establish a shareable local elections calendar, so we develop a stronger emphasis on supporting each other across the country, not just in our localities. We must also find new and innovative ways to communicate our electoral successes to national and local media, and I will work with the External Communications team on this.

Internal committee reform
As its convenor, I will work through Conference to reform Elections Committee so that regional election coordinators are directly involved. I will ensure that the committee meets bi-monthly (via Skype) and will establish regular progress reporting on how local parties’ electoral strategies are progressing, to ensure GPEx, and staff to have up to date data to hand when making strategic and executive decisions.

A presence in your community
I am passionate about helping small, growing and more established local parties to form effective strategies that produce electoral success over four- to five-year periods. I have previously given canvassing training and advice to a range of local parties and at regional events, sharing my understanding of the range of factors we need to master; from data collection to body language. I want to get out and directly help with election campaigns. Natalie Bennett has shown effective leadership at a grass roots level is down to physical presence and tireless work, and I want to follow her fantastic example.

Please give me your first preference on the ballot paper.

Why I am standing for Elections Coordinator

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I’m excited to be able to make this announcement, not least because it gives me something positive and active to push into amidst the chaos that is engulfing the UK’s politics.

The Greens are a beacon of hope. Our presence on the ballot paper is needed. Even if people do not agree with us, they can respect the sincerity with which we hold our views and the honesty that we bring to public life.

I only realised quite late in the day how important elections are. I was 26 when I took the plunge and become a Green Party member, but I (and we) must never forget that electoral success is intricately linked to our activism in the social and environmental movements of our day. I am proud of our development into a campaigning force across this country, and I want to serve the national party as an ambassador for good practice of election campaigns and lead us to greater and more sustainable electoral success in the next two years.

I will flesh out further the ideas I have for this role in due course, but for now, I am keen to hear from you about how we can improve our electoral success, our organisational practices and our national set-up.

Email me: rob.telford@bristolgreenparty.org.uk
Tweet me: @GreenRobTelford
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