The Effective Activist: Part 2
One major issue for the Labour Party is the distribution of leaflets. Roughly half the households in the UK are not on the internet, so they have no source of information other than main stream media.
Ideally we should be delivering four good leaflets a year to every house. The big obstacles are the effort of writing them, the cost of printing them, and a team to deliver them.
If you can buy good leaflets from the Labour Party that is easiest. As they are mass produced they should be cheaper. Sometimes Labour produces templates you may use.
By mail or delivery service one pays about 25p – 33p for each leaflet to be delivered. At say 30p a comrade who delivers 200 leaflets has made an in kind donation to the Labour Party of £60.00. Across a constituency of 75,000 voters you are looking at 40,000 homes, or £12,000 for delivering our mailing.
We have to build a delivery team who are reliable and robust. In an ideal world these would be the people who do not canvass (voter identification), because canvassers are always in short supply.
In one well run branch I knew those comrades with cars came to a house on Thursday evening. They collected a plastic bag or bags. Each bag had the leaflets counted out, a map with the route coloured in, the details of the comrade responsible for delivery and a “help or query” telephone number. By the end of Thursday evening every leafletter had their leaflets, to be delivered by the end of Sunday.
The organisers had no delivery responsibility because they were the fallback or relief leafletters for regular leafletters who could not deliver this time. As a rule of thumb 20% or so of leafletters have to excuse themselves for this delivery so have a few enthusiasts in reserve.
There is a certain amount of turnover among the leafletters so you are on a continuous recruitment drive.
In practice there are some properties that are best left to the Royal Mail because of access difficulties or remoteness. The more leaflets we can deliver ourselves, the better.
The natural question to ask is how to recruit our team of leafletters. Party members are a first resource. Lots of us are old or busy. If a quarter of your members will deliver a hundred leaflets each you are doing very well. Former members, supporters who display posters at election time, and “hard” Labour supporters are the next target groups. “Hard” Labour supporters are known Labour supporters who vote at every election. They can be identified from the party’s electronic records.
By now you should have most streets in your patch allocated to people who live on or near their routes. For the few areas left over look for “hard” Labour supporters and visit them.
You may find deliverers who will drive a mile or so to deliver an orphan route.
Make sure you have people you can telephone or email on each leafletting route whom you can telephone to check that they have received a leaflet. Of course you trust comrades, but checking up on newer comrades or people delivering a new route is sensible.
You will be surprised to find that a number of your leafletters refuse to join the party. It may be that they have had bad experiences with individual members. It may be that they wish the freedom to hold their own views. Although a member I once refused to distribute a Labour leaflet with which I disagreed. That is every comrade’s entitlement.
Remember to cosset and to value the leafletters. It is “only” leafleting but don’t say “only” until you have say ten thousand leaflets under your belt.
Read more by this author at www.charlesjames.uk