We were looking forward to sharing this at an All Members’ Meeting but we’ve no idea when this will take place. So instead we’re sharing highlights to remind us all that our next campaign may be just around the corner. We would love your memories, photographs and feedback on the campaign. Please contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org .
Julie Wintrup and Mark Beach, Campaign Coordinators, on behalf of the 2109 GE Campaign Committee: Derek Keen, James Wilder, Gary Puffett and Ian McKay.
Our GE2019 Campaign
It seems like another age now, but it was only five months ago that we tramped the frozen streets of West Berkshire leafleting and doorknocking, held stalls in Northbrook Street, and enjoyed packed hustings events across the region.
Our campaign was widely praised and James received the best of feedback – for his inspiring and engaging approach, and his grasp of a packed manifesto. This was despite our having only six weeks from start to finish: to discover that James was our candidate, to organise the campaign and to get election materials designed, approved, printed and distributed. Our campaign committee worked flat out, posting canvassing events, meeting places and organisers’ names a week ahead to maximise accessibility and involvement. If you would like to see our round up, or you’d like to get more involved in future, please do email us for a copy of our project report. We wanted to set a new bar for open and accessible local campaigning and we hope we did so. Please let us know your thoughts on how well we did.
James was a joy to work with and became an authoritative voice at hustings and media events: “I agree with James” was heard more than once. It was daunting but James learned ‘on the job’. We willed him on, listening in to early morning interviews, as he alone was made to answer for all of our national Party’s problems while other candidates were able to focus on well-rehearsed local issues. But that’s politics. James rose to the challenge, particularly on the night of the count when he made us all so very proud.
Our online campaign reached thousands of people. We learned the power – and limitations – of social media. Our Wilder4Newbury page was produced at speed by a team of incredibly talented people. Together we created one of the most engaging and professional social media campaigns we’ve seen. Many questions came our way via email, twitter and facebook, and we needed to dedicate an immense amount of time to keep up.
We replied to as many of those asking James to make pledges as we possibly could. Our responses were warmly received – often we would receive a reply saying we were the only ones to get back in touch. We chose to prioritise support for the School Cuts campaign and worked closely with local campaigners to promote its vital objective to properly fund our schools.
Our short video about James gave a sense his values and reasons for entering politics. It was stunning in its reach, generating interest particularly among young people. We remain incredibly proud of James. He was the youngest candidate in West Berkshire to participate in all hustings and interviews throughout the entire campaign, and at 26, one of the youngest candidates in the country. James was praised for remaining polite, good natured and highly professional throughout, by those in other parties as well as our own.
Check out just a few of James’ campaign activities: in our ‘energetic’ campaign, we leafletted almost every evening, knocked on doors at the weekend, met with Newbury Community Football Group, hosted meet-and-greet stalls on Northbrook street, as well as in Thatcham and Hungerford. James spoke in schools, visited Andrew Balding’s yard, gave excellent performances on Kennet Radio and the Andrew Peach show, gained an endorsement from Lord Andrew Adonis and received excellent coverage in the Reading Chronicle and Newbury Weekly News.
Finally, our wonderful campaigners and ward champions. Thanks to you, we leafletted with groups of up to fourteen people and covered most of West Berkshire, on some of the coldest, wettest and most unpleasant evenings imaginable. We thank each and every one of you for unfailing good cheer and much laughter – and for your generosity in fundraising. More than sixty of you were out and about leafletting and doorknocking, often single handedly in your own streets and villages, over the six weeks of the campaign. We warmed ourselves up on a few occasions with breakfasts, bevvies, curry nights, discussing together and planning every aspect of the campaign to ensure it really was ‘people driven’ as James wanted it to be.
It’s this spirit of determination and commitment that we know will win us the next General Election, and see Keir Starmer as our next Prime Minister. Thanks to Keir for endorsing our campaign.
For a personal take on the campaign, see Julie’s blog here.
Finally, please join our campaign team! We are a very supportive, positive and welcoming group and we need you. Thanks for reading.
Julie and Mark