‘How can I help Labour this election? The party insider’s guide to campaigning’

Labour may on the verge of an historic UK general election victory. You can help make that happen.

A Labour government will positively transform our country and bring the change our communities are so desperate for. The opportunity is exciting and something we can all be a part of delivering. If you have never tried doorstep campaigning (or haven’t been out for a few years) now is the time to get involved.

If you have never done it before, knocking on strangers’ doors and asking them to chat about politics might a bit scary, but it is honestly so much fun. You will have great conversations and meet lots of like-minded Labour activists on the campaign trail. I have made lots of wonderful friends through campaigning. It is also a useful way to build your network. So here are some tips and advice for first-time or returning campaigners.

Planning your time

Labour has key battleground seats across the UK and sessions run through-out the week. There are sessions during the day, evenings and weekends. You can use the Labour Party website to find local campaigning will be taking place. They can direct you to the areas where your support will really count.

Campaign groups are also running regular sessions you can join. This is a good way to meet people who share your interests. (Shout out to Labour Digital for running comprehensive campaign sessions across England to support candidates with an interest in tech.)

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You may want to go support certain candidates, or campaign against opposition candidates you would particularly like to see a Labour MP replace. If there is a particular constituency you want to support, you can get in touch with their campaign team via their website and they can add you to their WhatsApp groups or mailing lists.

If you are new to campaigning, let the session organisers know it is your first time so they can pair you up with an experienced campaigner who you can shadow for a bit to get the hang of conversations. The organisers and other campaigners will be grateful for your help and happy to have you join them.

What to wear/bring

You don’t need me to tell you this, but wear comfortable clothes and shoes. As a candidate standing for election, I was always told that every conversation with voters was a job interview so I should dress smartly.

For activists, however, you are fine wearing your normal clothes. The rules of common sense obviously apply so don’t wear anything people might find controversial (e.g. T-shirts with offensive slogans) not that you would anyway.

Summer elections mean light evenings and better weather, but British Summer is British summer with four seasons in a single day so bring an umbrella, light layers, suncream etc. Traditional campaigning used to be paper based, but Labour can now record voter preferences directly into mobile phones or tablets.

You may not be asked to do this, especially if you are new, but it is sensible to bring a charged phone just in case. You might want your phone anyway for sharing photos of the campaigning session and posting on social media.

Having great conversations

Each constituency will have a script or guidelines for talking to voters, and these may vary depending on the area and local political context. The person leading the session will explain how to frame conversations. Labour’s approach to speaking to voters has changed so even if you are an experienced campaigner listen carefully and ask any questions to make sure you understand the new approach.

Depending on where you are, you may be speaking to Labour voters, offering them posters or garden stakes and checking they know how to vote, what they need to bring and if they would like to meet the candidate. You may be speaker to undecided voters to get a sense of their priorities and any issues or concerns they might have. You might speak to people who voted for opponents in previous elections and trying to persuade them to put their trust in Labour in 2024.

One of the things I love about campaigning is you never know who is going to open the door and what you are going to talk about. You will have some great conversations with interesting people. Some people won’t want to talk or won’t support Labour. This is fine. You will politely thank them for their time and move on to the next front door. If people aren’t supportive, that is still useful data for the campaign. It isn’t personal.

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It is rare to have very negative experiences. I think one of the most difficult sessions I did knocking on doors in Basildon in the 2014 council elections. It was the end of the day, we’d been in Stevenage and Harlow and had a good response but by late afternoon I was tired, hungry and sunburnt. It felt like everyone just shouted “F-off we are voting UKIP” at us.

But Labour won two seats on Council and kept Labour voices in the room. The time we spent was worthwhile and the result was something the local party could build on. But most of the time (especially in this election) people are happy to chat.

It was genuinely moving and humbling in May 2022 when I was out in Chipping Barnet with my rosette on and passersby would stop me in the street to tell me they were voting Labour. Every person you speak to, every conversation you have will make a difference and help deliver a Labour government.

How else can you get involved?

Not everyone can go door knocking. Maybe it’s time, maybe its mobility. I was pregnant during my 2018 council election so did a lot of telephone canvassing instead.

You can do this at home or go to group sessions, which are fun and a great way to meet other activists. Labour has a useful online guide to other ways to volunteer. If you can, also consider donating to Labour. Even small gifts make a big difference and can pay for leaflets in a marginal constituency or targeted social media adverts.

As I said, this is a once in a generational opportunity, so it is the perfect time to get involved and help deliver the change the UK urgently needs.

Read more of our 2024 general election coverage here.

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