2017 Elections - Policy comms "strategy"


That title makes this all sound sooooo serious.

Basically, I want to talk about what we’ll be telling people in the 2017 local elections when we’re asking them to vote for us!

Obviously there are local issues that folks will want to highlight, but there’s plenty that applies to any area about our policies that we should try and highlight. Here’s what I’m thinking…

Local Democracy

Transparency & Accountability



Crime & Justice

  • Abolish PCCs, return oversight to local representatives (proposal)

We should also set up local pages, like the Horsham one for each area where we stand someone.

2017 Elections: Leaflets

One of the difficulties is that some are only actionable at a national level, not locally. We could shout a lot about what we want to do locally, but a lot of it isn’t anything we can achieve by being elected to a local council, so we have to be wary of seeming to make empty promises.


I was having a think about this too.

Perhaps the main thing that we should be getting across to voters is what makes our party fundamentally different from any other:
The fact that by voting for something new, they are not really voting for an individual political representative but for a platform through which the local community can govern themselves.
The fact that local constituents can directly write their own local manifesto.

I came up with a slightly tongue in cheek campaign slogan which may introduce this concept and get some attention. Please feel free to use or discard depending on if you all like it, its rough but hopefully you get the general idea:

Don’t vote Tory.
Don’t vote Labour.
Don’t LibDem.
And don’t vote for me!
Vote for somethingnew.org.uk

Please don’t vote for me, I’m not a politician and I don’t want the job, I’m just standing for election to make a political point. I wouldn’t actually have the first clue what to do if i got in for real.

But then again, if you do vote for something new, I wouldn’t really be in charge, you would be!
Because if you vote for something new you’re not really getting me, you are actually voting to have a local wiki platform through which local community can quickly and efficiently organise to govern themselves without the politicians and government getting in the way.

Imagine that, instead of having to petition the council for funding to clean up a local park you could suggest it to the wiki for the local community and if it was voted in by your local community members then it would happen instantly.

Imagine some community members wanted to use some council owned waste land for say, a new public park, again they would suggest it to the community and it would be approved or declined by the community immediately.

More funding for local NHS services? Done
Less funding to corrupt institutions? Sure
People taking the power back from the politicians and having a say over their own local lives? That would be something new.

post-industrial politics for an internet age.

if you think that you can make our local manifesto better then please go online and edit it to improve it in anyway you can!


I love your thinking with this - I’ve had similar thoughts!

While I don’t think we should actually say “don’t vote for me” I do think we need to emphasise why we’re different. The way that @Floppy ran such an open campaign for the 2015 General Election is a great example of what we all should do, and point to, during our campaigns.

For example, I am going to blog the experience of going to a candidate open day at my county council yesterday.

We should definitely think about what being an “open councillor” would be like, and put that across in our campaigns. Some ideas to start off;

  • accessible via social media, e-mail, telephone
  • blogging with people able to subscribe by e-mail/other methods
  • regular (monthly?) in-person surgeries

It’d be nice if we can agree to a set of “guidelines” that we (Something New) expect all our elected representatives to aspire to. We can add it to our field guide.


Once the nomination is in, I’m considering starting an open neighbourhood plan project for the area, so that we can show that we’re doing it locally, using the same system as the manifesto. That could be something for other areas too perhaps?


Yes, “don’t vote for me” might be a step too far :joy:. I was just trying to empathize the fact they are voting for a platform not a person but maybe there is a more subtle way to do this!

@philipjohn, you mention the difference between what is actionable locally vs nationally.
I think that how far we can progress local policy away from areas of regressive national policy is a really interesting area to focus on. To see how far we can differentiate ourselves from the competition.
For example:
Drug policy; we cannot change national drug law, but would we have the power to choose how to police (or not police) it on a local level? Would we have the power to use local funding to implement harm reduction strategies such as safe injection facilities for heroine users or drug testing facilities for people to test their drugs purity/safety.

What other areas are there where we could effectively disobey/replace national policy on a local level?
How far can we push on big areas such as education and healthcare to differentiate ourselves on a local level?

A potentially huge one would be if there were any possibility to experiment with universal basic income on a local level. I’m looking into what power local councils have over welfare budget spending, but interested to know if anyone has knowledge on this area already.


I think that this local planning platform will be key.
Whilst I believe that the national/global manifestos are important, success will have to come on a local level first. Therefore I think that we should put a great deal of focus on creating amazing local policies and platforms that engage directly with local people and paint a picture of what their local area could be.


I’ll get to work on that as soon as my nomination is complete.

I had another thought - most people don’t know what their county councillors actually do - what can they influence? I thought perhaps we should list the things that are actually relevant. Something like “you have an election coming up, and the person you vote for will influence healthcare, schools, transport, etc. Here’s what we have to say about those things.” Except less wordy, more immediate.


I’ve decided that before I consider doing any advertising I’m going to engage in a good old fashioned PR campaign. I may even only do this, and we can see how it compares. So far, I’ve made these notes on what to include in the Press Release:

  • What councillors do
  • Where I’m standing
  • Why I’m standing
  • What kind of councillor I hope to be
  • Who am I
  • What is Something New
  • Join us!

I’ll share it as soon as I start drafting properly :slight_smile:


Draft PR here: 2017 Elections: Press Release


@philipjohn so it’s just us two. What’s the competition and vote split like in your area? Where do we put the money?

I’m in a seat with just Con, Lab and LD candidates. Last time the tories had 46% of the vote, with UKIP second with 25%, mostly taken from lib dems. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holbrook_(electoral_division)#2013_Election. So some of those floating votes might come my way, but in general this place is very safe.

Yours, on the other hand, is a very marginal one between Labour and Tory, by the look of it: http://moderngov.staffordshire.gov.uk/mgElectionAreaResults.aspx?XXR=0&ID=178&RPID=70658788. What do you think? They’re very different profiles…


BTW, I think that we’re better spending the money where you are, because (1) you’ve already got the press releases out there, (2) you’re standing for two positions, and (3) it’s a less-safe seat. Also, I have a bit of recognition from the last election, which might help me a tiny bit anyway.


Last time (on 29% turnout) it was;

  • Labour: 35%
  • Conservative: 34%
  • UKIP: 23%
  • Lib Dem: 8%

There’s no UKIPer this time, but there is a Green candidate. In general, Lichfield is very Tory, but it was tight last time. To have any chance of winning I need to be very visible, which I think means proper door knocking.

I’m reasonably comfortable footing a decent chunk of the bill myself for things. So I’m fairly easy on that one to be honest.

That said, I’ve gotten myself quite excited and I’m in the mood for having a good stab at it!


That’s a good thing. Add to those reasons that I’m finishing work and madly racing to get everything done over the next 3 weeks, I think treating yours as the main one and mine as the “control” is sensible…


Righto, that does make sense. Feels a little strange to go from very reluctant to main focus :slight_smile: but I’m already enjoying it!


I thought it worth providing an update here on what I’ve been doing.

To start with, I got myself a blog where I’ve been posting things: https://medium.com/@something_phil

I also did a press release that I sent out to about 11 local media outlets, including TV & Radio. The only one to pick it up was Lichfield Live (which I help to run, but have no editorial impact on).

The comments on that Lichfield Live post are great, and people are already saying they are giving me their vote, which is fantastic.

I’ve been trying to focus on the idea of representation vs party politics to get the point across that, regardless of policy, I want to represent as a good councillor should. The latest in that is a blog post (also sent to Lichfield Live) bemoaning the fact that less than half the candidates even live in the divisions they’re standing for.

As being open and transparent is very much one of our things, and the kind of councillor I want to be, I’ve been trying to do that as part of my candidacy too. I shared my experience of the candidate open day and blogged about how I’ll be a good representative following a phone call with a local resident.