Before reading this, sign up for Yes In May Get Out The Vote campaigning on the fifth of May. You can come back and read why later.
I’ve not been online much for a couple of days, but even so I’ve seen quite a few people, in the lead-up to the referendum in May, complaining about the Yes campaign having not been hard-hitting enough.
I have my problems with the campaign, too, but I have a few things to say:
Firstly, the polls have us neck and neck – and that’s with polls currently biasing against people who say they’re Lib Dem supporters, to correct for over-weighting us in the last election. As Lib Dems are most likely to be in favour of electoral reform, it’s not looking bad at all.
But here’s the crucial thing – the No campaign just aren’t motivated. On the Yes side, we started organising street stalls nearly a year ago, and I’ve given up at least one weekend a month (two a month since January, and every weekend for the month leading up to the event) to stand outside accosting strangers with bits of paper, whatever the weather. By contrast, the No campaign have organised one street stall – at the same time as ours two weeks ago. Two members of the local Tory party turned up for half an hour, giving out leaflets about how Nick Clegg wanted us to spend fifty grazillion jillion quadrillion pounds on keeping him in power forever, and then left. They had a joke with us before they left about how they didn’t believe the rubbish they were spouting themselves.
The No campaign have had more money and more PR experience, but we’ve got people who actually care.
And that’s going to be the key – the No campaign’s whole thing has been about sowing FUD, and getting people confused and bored. Bored people don’t vote.
But people on the Yes side are going to be far more likely to be enthused enough to get up and vote than the No side – when was the last time you made an effort to enthusiastically endorse keeping things exactly the same as always? When have you marched, delivered leaflets, knocked on doors, or made phone calls for “don’t change everything, we’re fine as we are”?
We can win if, *ON THE DAY*, we get everyone we can out and voting. Get Out The Vote campaigns can win elections – I helped out in Northenden at the council elections in 2008 where the Lib Dems won by *two* votes, and I persuaded at least three people who weren’t planning on voting to vote that day (probably more, but those are the ones who actually said “I’m not going to vote” and who later said “OK, you’ve persuaded me” and went to the polling station). I made that difference.
And you can make a difference too. I don’t know exactly what the Yes campaign’s plans are for Thursday of next week, but from my experience at elections I can tell you that polling day is crucial. You need people to go door-knocking, people to make ‘phone calls, street stalls, people to tally at polling stations (so that the campaign knows who’s already voted and doesn’t knock on their doors and phone them up), people to deliver leaflets, people to offer lifts to the polling station. people to attend the polling station to supervise the counting. These are the MOST important jobs you can do on polling day.
I’m still working out exactly how much time I’ll be spending on specifically AV Get Out The Vote work and how much on Lib Dem (but Lib Dem voters will all be Yes voters anyway, so Lib Dem GOTV work works for both).
But understand this, if you’re a British voter, this may well be the single most important day of your life – the decision made on Thursday the Fifth of May will decide how elections are run for the forseeable future. Which means it’ll decide who gets to form every government for the rest of your life. Which means it’ll decide how much you pay in tax, whether we go to war and who with, whether the NHS stays public or gets privatised… this is the biggest decision you can ever make.
So if you can give *any* time at all – a couple of hours on the phones after work, a round of leafletting in the morning, the whole day door-knocking, volunteer here. If you’ve done nothing else for the campaign, do this. If you can persuade one other person who wasn’t going to vote to vote yes, you’ve doubled the power of your own vote. If you can get three other people to vote yes, you’ve effectively got four times the power of the No voter who can’t be bothered getting out of their chair and persuading people. I’ve already convinced dozens of people to vote Yes, and I plan on convincing many more on polling day. Will you be making that difference too?