Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lessons in LibDem Telephone Canvassing

We're only a week in to the Welsh and Scottish election campaigns and already the LibDems are looking, well, just that little bit desperate. Take this email which was sent out this morning begging their supporters in London to go into their Cowley Street call centre to call people in Scotland and Wales...
Not winning where you are? Help Wales and Scotland to win!

It is only five weeks before the elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. The importance of these elections cannot be overstated. In Scotland we being squeezed on all fronts and the SNP’s polls are looking impressive. In Wales we are facing intense opposition from Plaid Cymru and Labour. On Tuesday nights we are telephone canvassing for Wales and Scotland from Cowley Street from 7pm onwards. It really is very easy to do and requires no knowledge of either situation. Just dial and ask how people are going to vote.

If you can help please contact Andrew F (xxxx@parliament.uk) or Sarah G (xxxx@parliament.uk). We really do need the help so if you can spare an hour then it would be appreciated.

Is it really appopriate for parliamentary email addresses to be used for overt party political electioneering? I think not. I can't get very excited about that, but it is very revealing that people are being told that telephone canvassing requires no knowledge of either situation. presumably because the instruction is that you just 'tell 'em what they wanna hear'.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never thought I'd step in to defend the Lib Dems, but you really are making something out of nothing here, Iain.

As a seasoned campaigner, I'm sure you know that all parties (the Conservatives included) gather volunteers from all over the place to help with telephone canvassing. Many of these people will have only the vaguest idea of the local issues. You must also know that, far from "telling them what they want to hear", canvassing is very much an information gathering exercise. All we want to know is how the person at the other end of the line is intending to vote. The callers will be following a script and will be strongly discouraged from engaging in conversation with their 'targets', simply because it wastes valuable time.

All in all, a non-story. (Although it's nice to know they're feeling the heat!)

Ali Gledhill said...

Can anyone just turn up? Using parliamentary e-mail addresses for canvassing might not be allowed, but surely there are no rules about hijacking the Lib Dem phonelines for anti-Lib Dem canvassing...

Anonymous said...

Well, its just a two horse race you know...

Why are all Lid Bems just complete fools who believe the same crap about horse races.....

Is there a need for liberal party anymore, the public don't seem to think so!!

Anonymous said...

Well, its just a two horse race you know...

Why are all Lid Bems just complete fools who believe the same crap about horse races.....

Is there a need for liberal party anymore, the public don't seem to think so!!

Laurence Boyce said...

This is clearly the way to go. All the main political parties could sub-contract their canvassing to the same call centre in India. You can imagine a few embarrassing scenarios initially as the call centre employees get the various crib sheets all muddled up, but I’m sure things would soon settle down.

Anonymous said...

How are the Tories doing in Wales and Scotland then?

Anonymous said...

Iain - nonsense - there is no problem with this. You sound like an old Tory fart who just can't be bothered to do any campaigning and just think people are going to turn up and vote for you. This is the essence of what proper campaigns are about...

Iain Dale said...

Erza, very well in Wales, and in Scotland [enough - ed]

Crossfire - bollocks.

Anonymous said...

Ezra

A hell of a lot better than Labour sir!

"LABOUR is at risk of losing power in Wales AND Scotland in the May 3 elections, leaked papers reveal.

Documents from Labour HQ warn Tony Blair the party could lose ...."

Anonymous said...

Hey Iain, didn't you ever do your time on 'Geneva'?

Iain Dale said...

Indeed I did, but a)I wasn't invited to take part from parliamentary emails and b) I was briefed on the area we were phoning.

Anonymous said...

Although not a member of the Lib Dums, I'd really love to be involved in their campaign.

I certainly think that I could have a real "impact" on the electorate for them!!

Laurence Boyce said...

My favourite canvassing story from the 2005 election went something like this. Labour canvasser rings up a potential voter.

Canvasser: May I persuade you to vote for our esteemed candidate XXX?
Voter: Oh yes, I fully intend to vote for XXX notwithstanding his stance on the Iraq war.
Canvasser: Ah, but XXX opposed the Iraq war in both parliamentary votes!
Voter: I know.

Bizarre situation then ensues where Labour canvasser berates voter for supporting Labour party policy.

Anonymous said...

With respect, Iain, this is a non-story. We do exactly the same and tons of people use their Westminster email addresses for party-political purposes.

Given that you say that you didn't do much tele-canvassing in North Norfolk, could this help, in part, to explain the poor result? Just a thought - no criticism of you or your team implied!

Justin

Anonymous said...

Iain:

It's 10.50 pm and you have just 14 comments on your latest entry.

Previous postings have raised 19, 21 and 8 comments at the time of writing.

Far be it for me to criticise, but don't you think it's time you brought up something that would create a bit of controversy and debate?

If you need a kick-start, how about starting a thread on:

"How would Margaret Thatcher have dealt with the current crisis of the 15 British Marines being held in Iran?"

Anonymous said...

ezra said...
How are the Tories doing in Wales and Scotland then?

Conservatives will win Wales, forget Scotland.

Auntie Flo'

Iain Dale said...

Justin, where did i say that? we did loads of telephone canvassing - maybe too much!

Hemlock. A quiet day. We all have them!

Anonymous said...

professor hemlock - maybe you are just being thick, or you are too bloody lazy to read the earlier posts, but if anything Iain's blog has been in need of a quiet day post the discussions on, er, Iran and, er, Margaret Thatcher, and, er, how Tony Blair 'measures up' to Maggie in view of the current crisis co-inciding with the 25 year anniversary of the Falklands Invasion. These averaged over 40 posts, if you want to play a crude numbers game.

Sorry to be somewhat rude, but Iain gets a lot of stick, much of it justified, but this ain't it - and 'if you can't take, it don't dish it out'...

Tartan Hero said...

I would have thought a wee telephone canvassing campaign from Conservative Central Office for the Scottish campaign wouldn't go amiss. The Tories are flatlining massively. If you thought it couldn't get worse than the rout in 1997, then think again. Most Tory voters I have canvassed are voting SNP to get Labour out.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11.25 pm

You're probably right. I am almost certainly thick and bloody lazy [sic].

However, in the rather agreeable school that I was educated in, I was never taught words like:

"er"

and

"ain't"

and, before you volunteer to pass on your proletarian knowledge of the English language, I have no great wish to understand them, either.

BTW I can "take it" which is why - unlike yourself - I don't hide behind "anonymous."

Anonymous said...

This really is a non-story, Iain.

The Lib Dems put far more into campaigning on local issues than certainly your party do. Just look at how the Tories were so quick to copy our Focus leaflets!

Besides which, i've been telephone canvassing at Cowley Street and they brief you on the issues in the area etc.

Did you seriously expect them to be throwing activists in the deep end with no knowledge of the local issues whatsoever?

Poor show Iain. Your blog is a shining example of why the blogosphere will never be a substitute for the professional press: non-stories like this are just petty political point-scoring.

Unknown said...

Iain, as for North Norfolk, the Tory National Phone Bank did a major haul across North norfolk the day the election was called, As I was delivering "flying start" leaflets, people were telling me that they had received a phone call from someone from the Tories who wasn't local. A ohne round at the time fromother ward activist showed that most of the Constituency towns got a phone call that day.

I can also confirm that you also had an earlier "sweep" from a central phone bank in, I think, February 2005.

As for "cock-up" campaigning, how about the Tory leaflet in 1995 from the candidate standing against my father in Horsford which told people to vote at Freethorpe Village Hall, some 25 miles away and on the other side of the District. Who was the candidate ? David Prior !

To be fair Iain, this is a non-story.

Anonymous said...

Bit of a storm in a teacup this one, Iain. In my view anyway.

Matt

Anonymous said...

Ezra,

In Scotland, in the South, the West and the Lothians the party is doing ok, rather well in the South in fact, but other than that terrible. Absolutely terrible.

Anonymous said...

tartan hero is right, many Tories are voting SNP to rid Scotland of Labour MSPs. However, as someone who lives in a Constituency where the Tory candidate can defeat the Labour one, Dumfries, I will be voting Tory!

Paul Evans said...

Using your Parli email to ask some colleagues to help out with canvassing? Good God, what a scandal. You really are looking for Whiter than White aren't you Iain? I once used mine to email my cousin in Canada, maybe there was a register I should have declared it on?!

Tim said...

Iain, was it really appropriate for Nick Boles to use his Policy Exchange email address for overt party political electioneering?

Iain Dale said...

Since when did the taxpayer pay for Policy Exchange's email system?

And if you missed it I said "I can't get very excited" about it.

Do keep up. Do try harder.

Anonymous said...

Have you banned us from called Borfolk Blogger an over-pious self-righteous tosser? I do hope not. His comment self defeats though - he was on foot at the door in Norfolk, and your supporter on the phone 'not local'. Maybe not a dodgy thing to do but surely given Borfolk's own comment, then certainly an unwise tactic.

Just on the off-chance you have though what is the score about declaring such telephone canvassing in expense returns?

Tim said...

Iain, it's the same issue, regardless of the source of the funds. In both cases there are rules about using certain facilities for party-political campaigning.

Yes, you declared the Nick Boles matter to be a non-story, but here you are today running with this.

Can't you smell the hypocrisy?

Rob Fenwick said...

I think all our volunteers should be made to impersonate the accents of the area they're calling "Al-right moi bab? Oim jast calling from the Leeeberal Demokrats"

Look, YOU try writing in a Brummie accent...

Paul Evans said...

Also worth noting that the Tories (and Labour) ran their telephone campaigns at the last General Election completely centrally, and using push-polling techniques on TPS registered households, which the Information Commissioner ruled illegal.

Tim said...

"...push-polling techniques on TPS registered households, which the Information Commissioner ruled illegal"

I was a TPS-registered individual who received such a call pushing Anne Milton. I started asking questions about who exactly was calling and the caller became evasive, then downright rude. I complained to Anne Milton about it; she feigned ignorance and promised to investigate the matter when she knew damn well what was going on from the start. It was this incident that prompted me to start the Anne Milton weblog.

There's a lesson in there for Iain... perhaps he can dig it out.

Iain Dale said...

Are you threatening me?

Tim said...

Are you threatening me?

Ahahahahahahaha!

I guess that depends on how you *perceive* it.

Now would you mind responding properly to the point I raised about parallels between this and the PE matter? Don't you think it reveals just a smidgen of hypocrisy on your part?

Iain Dale said...

By the way, your use of asterisks around words is a dead give away. You really should stop using them when you use your many aliases on other peoples' sites and this one. You have been rumbled.

Now, for the umpteenth time, go away. You're not going to be allowed to hijack this thread like you have tried to do with so many others.

Iain Dale said...

Oh, did I forgot to mention? You're banned from this blog now. We're tired of your moronic meanderings. Nobody's interested in you. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Iain
you've got to like the SNP
small time outfit beating labour and about to bring independence to a nation ...doesn't get more impressive

Chris Paul said...

Using the parliamentary emails is naughty. But if you are into semi-serious modern voter iD you just ask the questions and you don't engage.

Labour have five questions. Having not 'phone canvassed for anyone else I don't know how many others use.

But I could canvass anywhere on my phone if I wasn't so busy knocking on doors and also blogging a bit.

Chris Paul said...

Dear Iain

I also SOMETIMES *use* asterisks round words as well as emboldening, italicising and CAPITALISING. Not such a give away. Whihc is not to say I blogged the rabid nonsense you are referring to or that Timbo doesn't give himself away. My greatest tell is starting sentences with prepositions. But some people copy this. And I am trying to cut down.

Best w

Chris P

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff indeed Iain, i am sure i'll mention it in my show on Wednesday!