2016 is no longer relevant.
Public opinion has shifted, influences on public discourse have changed,and the political landscape has swung away from its previous centre.
December 2019 provides a ground zero moment, from which meaningful, active, and successful community can be built on the principles of understanding, fairness, and working towards common goals.
The Leave/Remain divide is no longer a healthy, productive, or useful societal distinction to maintain. Parliamentary arithmetic and the democratic mandate is now very different, as such it is necessary to put an end to vanity projects and exercises in false hope.
A second referendum was never a functional argument for several reasons. The most important is that support for it immediately established the idea that over half of the population is not sufficiently entitled to hold a valid view, casting a large number of people as somehow having less worth than others. Everybody in this country is valued equally, should be at least, and having lost a democratic vote is not a justification for even partly dismissing this principle.
Likewise, the extreme drive to criminalise (often misguidedly) or force the politicisation of the judicial system was never going to provide a positive outcome.
These are among the most counter-productive elements of strategy which ultimately failed.
A key component in the process of moving forward is disengaging with party politics in order to avoid the tactical voting soup and create a new way for every community to find consensus and reengage with the democratic processes of this country.
We also have a much better understanding than ever before of the issues which people care about and how digital campaigns impact (and fail to impact) real world outcomes.
This is the moment to let go of dysfunction and adapt to the new terrain with the intention of making things better – and the understanding that this is an achievable outcome with a prolonged period of time to get it right.
For what it is worth, I see the way forward as relatively easy to see. A simple proposal is one for the creation of a new organisation, run on a not for profit basis.
Some very rough sketches of timelines, functions, and budgets are below.
Week 1: Creation and registration of entity.
Week 2-3: Post Mortem
Week 4: Realignment of data and analytical measures, moving away from Leave and Remain
Week 6: Statement of Purpose and Core Values
Month 3: Establishment of digital infrastructure (national, regional, local)
Months 4-12: Canvassing and Polling to establish what communities care about most
Year 2: Local Community Building, Positive Influence Campaigns at a local and national level.
Year 3: Community Outreach and Activity (National, Regional, Local).
Year 4: Media engagement, Repeat Polling and Canvassing and Update Statement of Purpose
Year 5: Party Alignment pre-election (with a single entity / creating a new entity), and 2024 election campaign.
A post mortem of the 2019 general election will highlight which issues were important to voters, how digital campaigns performed and advertised, and how votes took place across the country on the day. The process will also examine how the grassroots campaigns have performed over time and additionally explain how “reactive addiction” to trending topics has negatively impacted success. The report would be published online.
With the simplistic division of Leave/Remain no longer functional or healthy, core data analysis will shift to a “friends of Sarah” model, enabling more rational and granular analysis which is fit the five year purpose.
Statement of Purpose and Core Values:
A formal document will be produced in Week 6, providing a clear charter for the community.
An interim statement of purpose should be: “To build and sustain an effective, inclusive, agile, and informed community with the expertise to positively influence public discourse and political policy.”
The interim core values should be:
To carry out the purpose with honesty and integrity
To educate and empower communities
To act ethically and maintain transparency
To support local communities and help build a fairer society
To campaign effectively on issues for the benefit of all
To influence policy makers with fact and not fiction
To communicate across societal boundaries without fear or favour
The new organisation will design and build a digital infrastructure across platforms, providing strategic presence at a national, regional, and local level. ensuring that communication at all levels is functional, meaningful, and conducted in line with core values.
The organisation will work closely with the platforms to align the infrastructure with current and intended community guidelines and build relationships to enhance the community experience.
Canvassing and Polling:
The organisation will support in community (local) efforts to identify issues which people care about and conduct regular representative polling at a national and regional level, using data ethically to inform strategy and provide actionable insights rather than target individuals.
The organisation would identify key influencers in all areas and across all platforms, using the polling data to ensure it is able to effectively engage with broad audiences on issues which truly matter to communities.
The organisation would work on and offline to build engaged communities, grow audiences, and take ownership of the national conversation in order to drive positive change for all. It would reach beyond existing echo chambers and find common ground upon which communities can work together once more.
Party Policy Influence:
The organisation will help local communities influence positive actions by MPs and parties in order address the issues people care about, ensuring that party policies are increasingly aligned with the representation of the concerns of the public and not internal ideology. Where a party or politician responds to those needs, the organisation and the community will activity support them.
The organisation and the community will be active on and offline, supporting initiatives and those in need, raising public awareness at all times.
When the community is established and is achieving positive impacts, the organisation will increasingly engage with the media, developing productive relationships which raise the profile of initiatives and issues adversely affecting local people.
The organisation and the community will constantly seek to bridge pre-existing divides through positive activities and will strive to reach disadvantaged and hard to reach groups.
Tactical voting has become cumbersome, divisive, and ineffective. When the 2024 election arrives, the community will roll its full weight behind the politicians and parties which have responded to the preceding four years of community-led work.
If no party has effectively done this, the community may stand in its own right.
The organisation and the community will be an active and effective participant, and will positively influence the result of the campaign.
The organisation will provide centralised support functions, analytical products, and single points of contact to ensure strategic objectives are delivered and all information output generates actionable insights and deliverable results. This structure will also be streamlined, cost efficicent, and non-intrusive while ensuring the community guidelines are adhered to and legal requirements are met.
The organisation will provide costed, structured support to each region and local initiatives on a regular basis, providing limited but stable monetary input to help communities grow and succeed.
The organisation will provide and facilitate targeted annual spending to assist community audience growth, and will deploy the spends on the basis of measurable data.
The organisation will provided targeted advertising throughout the year, ensuring communities are visible and that their messages reach beyond the traditional constraints of special interest groups. Such expenditure will be deployed on the basis of measurable data and targeted at campaigns which deliver maximum costs efficiency.
During the election period, a hyper targeted advertising campaign will assist the community in achieving its objectives within whichever guidelines are applicable at the time.
Volunteer Hours: (Managed by Bank)
Data Operations: £60,000 per annum
Operations Management: £60,000 per annum
Team: 6 x £30,000 per annum
Region Support Budget: £144,000 per annum
2024 Election Campaign Budget: £100,000 (single sum)
Community Building: £30,000 per annum
Advertising: £100,000 per annum
Annually, the budget is £604,000, or £3.12million over the full five years, which would roughly equate to £2.00 per month if funded by the public with around 30,000 members chipping in less than a cup of coffee regularly.
Due to the operating cost outline being specified early we can accurately budget for the five year period and, also, understand how the community could easily become entirely self-sustaining. The existing pro-European community alone, for example, has an engaged audience of over 600,000 people.
In short, the budget and subsequently the ability to fund community projects, growth, and advertising can rapidly scale with the community itself, without the need for spend and splurge crowdfunders which seem to have become a norm.
Over the five year period, this streamlined, community-focused model with centralised expertise provides exceptional value for money.
In summary, the strategy is:
Create an efficient and effective community-led campaign which is self-sustaining and scalable
Reach beyond the constraints of existing audience boundaries to produce positive change
Conduct sustainable, measurable, and achievable operations over a five year period
Positively impact the result of the 2024 general election through community building
Operate at all times on the basis of actionable insights derived from analytical product
From ground zero there is substantial and viable opportunity to shed dead weight and bring together a range of communities, creating a movement capable of doing public good in a measured and rational way between now and the 2024 election.
There are no real barriers to achieving the purpose as set out.
The last few years have been divisive and often traumatic in many respects, but that does not have to be the way the next years are spent too.
This is a simple strategy, based on Community Census (learning about what matters), Community Cohesion (uniting or reuniting with common purpose), and Community Resilience (building supportive networks which leave nobody behind). It creates a genuine opportunity for communities to influence politics, ensuring Parliament is driven by the people as it should always be.
I’ve given a little though to what such an organisation should be called and arrived at something enjoyably fluid: We-Are.uk
It struck me as inclusive and adaptable – for example it could be We Are Britain (National), We Are The North East (Regional), We Are Derbyshire (Local), We Are Lymington (Hyper-Local), and so forth. And this would mean that standard branding could be rolled out with relative ease, which in and of itself would build broader recognition as time went on.
While I was writing this I saw it made a lot of sense to provide community directories for local business and the like too which can all be provided through that one domain. That is, after all, how we are going to fix this mess: together.
There is something in this. I hope you can see it too.