by | Jan 23, 2024

How should campaigners be thinking differently during a General Election year?

Last Thursday at The Conduit, alongside campaigners, legal professionals and journalists, I attended Link for Change’s Social Change in 2024 panel. Here’s what I heard.

An experienced panel, chaired by Kat Sladden from Breakthrough, saw housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa (SMK Young Campaigner Award winner 2022), Matthew McGregor (38 Degrees), lawyer Raju Bhatt (Bhatt Murphy), and journalist Ros Wynne-Jones (Daily Mirror Real Britain columnist) come together to offer insights on the trends, tools, and tactics we need for campaigning in the year ahead and what the election year means for campaigners.

Panellists’ insights on campaign tactics and tools included:

  • Big issues this year will come out of inquiries such as Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the ongoing Blood Scandal Inquiry plus migrants’ rights cases, the Rwanda Bill and the Post Office scandal inquiry.
  • Campaigns must be centred around the stories of people with lived experience. Reflecting on how his own story led his campaigning, Kwajo Tweneboa advised ‘be a massive pain in the ass’.
  • On what campaign tactics will cut through, Matthew McGregor said the same tactics still apply – from a petition to other entry points into campaigning. If the story is good, and the purpose is clear, then these are still great tactics to use.
  • Panellists all reflected on content and digital channels being absolutely critical. Content must be compelling and used in the right way for the channel it is meant for. Funny and emotive content is a key ingredient.
  • Creativity and innovation is really important and cuts through. Just look at what Led by Donkey’s does. Being innovative with digital content makes a big difference – check out Kwajo’s content for some inspiration.

The General Election isn’t going to be easy for campaigners.

  • Politicians are going to have to start reacting to pressure placed upon them and this is a major opportunity for campaigners. Campaigners can leverage this, so get in early and shape the discussion because the closer we get to the election, the harder it will be.
  • Campaigners need to understand that each day parties will be working to a prescribed grid and only issues on the grid will be discussed, nothing else will get through unless something breaks in the media
  • Start to do influencing work NOW. For example, shadow ministers have until 8 February to finalise their policy pitches for the Labour manifesto. If this is too soon, opportunities across the year are in influencing individual MPs who might get behind your issue. And remember, human stories are key.
  • Resilience will be a must for all of us. This election is going to ‘be the culture war election of our lifetimes’. It’s going to get nasty. To remain hopeful, we need to tackle the challenges head on so the more we can work together across disciplines and sectors, the more impact we will have.

Emma Boyd

Emma Boyd is the Head of Marketing and Communications at SMK



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