Campaigning for one of Scotland's smaller parties doesn’t bear much resemblance to campaigning with some of the larger and more historic ones. For one thing, it’s still activist-led with a focus on more door-to-door politics than the top-down model that New Labour brought over from the States. There are major advantages to this - notably the high levels of motivation and involvement, plus the genuine development of ideas - but it can make for some drawn-out debates when quick action might be better.
Our other major asset is our willing activists, and mass leafleting is one of our strongest campaign areas. With the local elections under proportional representation for the first time, we’re confident of getting much-needed groups into Scotland’s Councils this year. As our English sister party have found, this can be the best way to make a noticeable difference.
It's a standing joke on election night: the next election starts today! In some sense that's right, but we began our planning in earnest about a year before the election. The party's Elections and Campaigns Committee started pulling together in May 2006 looking at how to coordinate all the party's election-related activity under one timeline. Everyone on the Campaigns Committee like all the other committees in the party is elected by the whole party at conference. No-one on the committee is paid for their work on it.
Major decisions we make are referred up to Council, our governing body, or to Operations, as required. The model for Elections and Campaigns seems to be that the meetings get longer and longer until they're about four hours long, then more meetings are inserted to ensure that each individual one is a manageable size. It's a bit like the way cells divide. We're approaching the time when daily meetings will be required, I've been warned. Plus all those late-night phone calls about the next day's papers.
However one of the best ways to win a seat is always to really care about your constituents. One of our members was standing for a London local authority, and as he toured the estates canvassing for votes and offering his help, he found the most common problem for council tenants was plumbing. He spent weeks bothering the council’s maintenance department, who were slow and unresponsive. Then he did a plumbing course. And got elected.