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Communicating with the Electorate

August 24, 2021 1:00 PM
By Lisa Smart
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Last week saw Jeremy Hargreaves (Federal Policy Committee Vice-Chair) join us to discuss policy development from the perspective of the FCEC and the impact our recent research projects have made on this work.

We noted that whilst we needed a great deal of support from Liberally inclined Tory voters next time, it is imperative that we retain our core vote and are able to draw people from the Labour party as well.

We encouraged Jeremy and FPC to work closely with the campaigns team to use real-time 'on the doorstep' feedback. We discussed the need to join-up central policy with training of campaigners to speak to specifics with voters and the need for some star policies, alongside broader thematic messaging of our policies.

One area of particular discussion was a sense of disenfranchesment from political life felt by many voters, something that policies, such as our forthcoming policy on Federalism for England, will start to address.

The two committees will maintain ongoing communication through email on ways for FCEC and FPC to remain in close contact and we are all, across the party's committee structures, thinking of ways to improve communications and joint-working as we establish 'new normal' working patterns.

Chesham and Amersham

Now we have had more time to reflect on our stunning victory in Chesham and Amersham, the first of many bricks in the Blue Wall we intend to topple, we discussed a detailed update from Dave McCobb and his team.

Key lessons, which I would encourage everyone in the party to think about, included:

  • Deploying our squeeze message early helped us build a strong platform for the mid and late campaign;
  • 'Switch' voters made their minds up late. Pushing hard until the end really matters; and
  • We win where we are most active, recruiting, encouraging and training activists is key to our chances.

We also discussed the best use of HQ resources, new Campaigning techniques and approaches to financing early groundwork, and the use of voter surveys.

Future of the Communications team

We would like to warmly welcome back Baroness (Olly) Grender as interim Director of Communications.

Olly update the committee on her proposed approach to the coming months, and we were particularly pleased to hear her thoughts around increasing the speed with which we can respond to breaking news, improving our engagement with broadcast media, tightening our messaging, taking calculated risks, and team management. We also discussed our approach to social media, how we use Conference as our 'shop window' and how the Committee can proactively support Olly in her role.

Our thanks to outgoing Director, Mimi Turner, whose work formed a framework around which much of our policy direction and communications team structure now hangs.

Seat tiering and selections

Following extensive consultations with the State and Regional Parties, and others, we discussed the latest proposals for which seats should be 'Tier 1' ('target') in the next General Election.

The Party is striking a careful balance of ensuring that particular resource investment is targeted on our most winnable seats - we cannot achieve our aims without sufficient Parliamentary numbers to influence government - and ensuring we support seats across the country to develop. This is not an easy balance and the Committee will keep seat tiering under regular review.