ConservativeHome has often highlighted the lack of direct co-ordination of activists in the General Election – a problem that arose in part from the failure to continue the Team2015 operation that had made a good start two years before.
The Pickles/Brady review will report back this weekend, and we expect it to include several recommendations on the role, management and co-ordination of activists. However, in the meantime CCHQ has launched a new app, called ‘Conservative Campaigner’, that hints at some improvements in the way the Party communicates with its volunteers.
At the moment, the app’s functions are limited to connecting activists with one another, recruiting new subscribers and sharing news from the Conservative Party. It’s obviously intended as a platform to which campaigning work can be added in future, though.
So far as I can see, it’s essentially the same as the app used by Vote Leave last year. It runs on the basis of gamification, awarding Action Points to users for greater participation – filling out their profile, friending other users, inviting fellow Conservatives to download the app, sharing Conservative messages on social media, and so on – and runs a public leaderboard to show the most active users. Activists get promoted as they gain points, though the decision to award the title of “Leader” to anyone earning 50,000 Action Points perhaps invites jokes about whether some Cabinet ministers will be using it more keenly than others.
Vote Leave used their similar app to allow users to promote campaign events, find and join local groups, and so on, and I’d imagine this app will go on to do the same. The competitor it’s up against, though, isn’t Vote Leave’s platform – it’s Momentum’s new app, M.app, which is already somewhat more advanced.
Launched with a focus on the Labour conference, M.app promotes Momentum events, urges users to vote for particular motions in the Labour rule- and policy-making process, offers discounts at various venues in Brighton, and features a “Photo Booth” in which people can upload pictures (selfies with Russell Brand and Owen Jones, for example) and Like other people’s pictures. The Corbynite group also already has its own phone-banking app, and apparently they intend to use in-house developers to expand M.app into a more general campaigning network once the Labour conference is over, with a greater emphasis on interaction between users.
It’s certainly positive that the Conservative Party now has this platform, and is recruiting activists as users of it. But while it’s good that this work has started, it’s troubling that the opposition is already ahead on this front. I suspect that Momentum’s freedom of action is rather greater than either Party’s HQ, which allows them to steal a march.
To download the Conservative Campaigner on Apple or Google Play devices click here . By using the invite code “NRQE-” we’ll both gain points (see what I mean about gamification?).