I’ve spent three Saturdays on the doors in marginals and, though it’s tough in places, we’re making progress. Every seat is different, but what I’m picking up is that the sheer volume of “undecided” voters is large. The Tories will try to tip these voters over with a campaign of fear and carefully targeted lies in the last ten days of the campaign.
That’s why I’ve pulled together the ten things that I personally keep in mind when I’m canvassing and at the hustings. I hope these tips help…
1. Win the battle for credibility over tax and spend. Explain why borrowing to spend money on long term infrastructure is the only way to rebuild our country.
2. Win the battle for verification over assertion, truth over lies. The entire Tory strategy is to normalise lying and get the broadcasters to accept it. Stop the broadcast until lies are corrected and demand an on air correction.
3. On the doorstep… Listen. Understand where the anger is coming from and tell a different story – of hope about the future of our communities and our country.
4. Relentlessly focus resources on real target seats and wards. Feel-good events won’t win the election but do boost morale of volunteers, so keep them short and interesting. Polls show we’re making progress, which means we have to adjust our targets in real time, unsentimentally, both nationally and within single seats.
5. Accurate voter ID and preparations to get out the vote (GOTV) will be key. Many traditional Tory activists are discouraged from campaigning by the nastiness of their own offer, and the tie up with Nigel Farage. Their campaign looks heavily digital – our strength is in human connections.
6. Be proud to be Labour. We’re a mass party rooted in every community. The Tory strategy is to stigmatise us – it’s not working because our ordinary working class members are our secret weapon.
7. Accept that some voters are already making tactical decisions in response to the Farage-Johnson pact. And there will be more towards the end. Make sure they know that if they lend us their vote to stop a far-right government there will be humility from us in return. If a Green or Lib Dem candidate stands down, say a public thank you and keep saying it.
8. Align the ground war with the air war. Over the last week, it has been about NHS waiting times and free broadband. As a news journalist, I know it takes three to four days for any big news to clarify into people’s minds – don’t move on until the big issues have “landed” on the doorstep.
9. Focus your time online effectively. We have to be our own media, so after campaigning tell everyone in your social media network what’s come up, spread the party’s key messages in your own words – with selfies, videos, posts. One genuine short video to sent to 50 friends is worth five retweets of a Jeremy Corbyn meme – but keep RT-ing as well!
10. Our campaign is focused on a mix of defensive marginals and offensive ones. It’s not just about taking new seats: just like in warfare, the resolute defence of a place where our opponent is wasting huge resources trying to capture can be a route to victory.
Finally, remember the final phase of this campaign will be a frenzy of Tory lies, amplified by the media. The feeling that “We’re being lied to…” is one of the strongest reflexes in working class life going back generations. I think if we can win the battle for credibility and truth now, that’s a great investment for moment the fake news factory goes into overdrive.