UKIP, like all political parties, comprises three categories of Members: supporters of the cause who for a variety of reasons cannot be active; members who could but choose not to be, and activists. None of these are dead!
Most selection is by a process of rejection – ‘last man standing’ to coin a phrase – which means voters are at least as much voting against other options as for their chosen candidate; be that a TV competition contestant or their next local councillor. Any communication needs to include both elements to answer the individual voter’s “How is voting for you going to make my life better compared with voting for one of the others” question.
As an election veteran, having been a County and District Council Councillor for 16 years, the key to winning is to canvass: telephone as many as possible as it’s less intrusive; can be done between 8 & 9:30 pm when it’s dark outside (so you can’t do face to face canvassing) and being quicker is a more efficient use of your finite time than walking up long drives only to find they’re out. Fill in with face to face, which can be offered if someone really wants to meet you.
Local elections have a notoriously low turnout: usually between 20% and 35%, with most voters aged 55+. If canvassed prior to receiving a leaflet they’ll often refuse to answer with the easy get-out of not knowing what you stand for. Any declared support needs to be encouraged with: “So you will actually vote then won’t you?”
If you have time because of having so many activists, by all means show an active local presence by supplementing the above handing out another leaflet on a high street or to railway commuters on their way to work for them to read on the train (rather than on the way home when it’ll more likely be stuffed unread into a pocket and be forgotten). Be active on social media (with care!) and in your local newspaper which will often carry short biographies of candidates (so make sure you meet their copy deadlines) and letters on local issues of concern. Although readership is nowadays limited, these people are very likely to vote.
Because we all receive so much junk mail, you have only two to three seconds to encourage people to read-on with an impacting headline, rather than ditch, with three main options:
- UKIP – no, because while there have been many UKIP councillors, UKIP is seen as a national issue party i.e. Brexit, which as most erroneously feel is happening and so feel UKIP is irrelevant, is currently unlikely to encourage a read-on decision.
- YOU – maybe if you’re already elected, have been very active and so are well known locally, perhaps to the extent of having a personal following even among political opponents.
- A Key local issue – probably the safest option if as will mostly be the case you’re not the currently elected councillor. Potholes, an unwanted housing development on a local green field or a badly maintained local facility such as a dirty leisure centre are obvious examples. You need to be careful that your lead issue is actually the responsibility of the council for which you’re standing if you have multi-tiers of local government in your area.
Taking potholes as an example, you could super-impose the faces of your current council leader and local candidate onto a photo of some local potholes (with their faces framed by a pothole) with a caption “Is this what you voted for?”, followed by your pledge “I will prioritise fixing potholes over wasting money on unnecessary anti-car traffic calming such as: [photo of locally irritating/controversial traffic calming/revised road layout scheme]”
A UKIP flyer which doesn’t mention Brexit will rightly be seen as fake; not least because people will vote not just on the issues governed by the council for which you’re standing – but localise it. Saying the following would suffice: “UKIP has reverted to the £-sign to symbolise the PM’s broken Brexit promise as Brexit is increasingly looking nominal rather than actual. The proposed breach of the 2-year Article 50 Letter deadline with a so-called transition period delays us being free to make our own trade deals, reduce food prices and spend money on the NHS and local services rather than continuing to waste it on the corrupt EU.”
Your headline could be “Broken promises” with a short bullet-point list, including Brexit, potholes, and uncontrolled migration being the root cause of the unwanted [name] housing development and local shortage of local school places/NHS long waiting lists.
Of course include UKIP, a short relevant biography, and photo of you, but try to put yourself in the shoes of your potential voter when deciding the content of what is basically an advertisement as to why they should vote you into the job.
You don’t need a fancy programme to design an effective leaflet/advertisement: it’s amazing what can be achieved on Word, which having got it approved you then save as a PDF file to upload and have printed. Use your imagination and other flyers as a design model. I’ve seen 2,000 double-sided full-colour A5 leaflets on eBay available for £38 and there is a comparable UKIPpers’ printing facility in Essex.
Having carefully designed your leaflet, it equally follows that delivering a folded or otherwise damaged leaflet is less likely to make its full intended impact if the recipient can even be bothered to unfold your detritus. If you don’t want to risk a life-changing loss of finger injury from a silent territorial dog by putting your hands through a letterbox, there is in my opinion only one tool for delivering it flat on the mat – as many UKIP Conference attendees have already seen demonstrated and agreed.
Finally: Good luck. As it doesn’t cost anything to stand, you’ve nothing to lose, so go on, if you qualify, stand for your local council, and if enough do that we’ll qualify for a UKIP TV election broadcast. Even that is a useful victory in our fight against the Feeble Appeaser Re-may-ner Theresa PM’s proposed fake Brexit.