"Being right in the sense of being correct is not sufficient to win.
Political technology determines political success. Learn how to
organize and how to communicate. Most political technology is
philosophically neutral. You owe it to your philosophy to study how to
Elections are not won by being philosophically pure. Education
vouchers, a flat tax or EU withdrawal may be the philosophically "true
path" but such a path alone does not lead to victory. Likewise
expensive advertising campaigns, highly paid consultants or a top-down
campaign… They are insufficient too.
The key to winning elections lies in applying the latest political
technology. This was recognised by the Conservative Party decades ago
by the creation of local Party associations, the development of the
concept of canvassing and the recognition of the importance of training
by the creation of the likes of Swinton College.
Applying the latest political technology was also crucial in the 2005
general election with the use of consumer databases juxtaposed to
previous canvassing records. It was not sufficient, however, to carry
the Party to victory.
The maxim that "political technology determines political success"
requires that candidates, campaign managers and activists of all ages
and of all levels of experience recognise the importance of studying
the latest techniques. No one should be too proud or busy to learn or
to continue to learn.
It is not sufficient to rely on an army of tellers on polling day and
1950s canvassing techniques. The left has its own army of politically
motivated public sector workers, trade unionists and others with a
vested interest in preserving the status quo whose numbers exceed our
own. It is therefore critical to achieve victory that a greater
emphasis is placed on political technology.
Community or single-issue groups can often lend credibility to
Conservative candidates in a way that a campaign being pursued by the
Party itself cannot. Much of Greg Hands’ success in Hammersmith &
Fulham sprang from his own local council campaign that saw his election on a 15% swing from the Liberal Democrats in May 1998.
Direct mail, desk top publishing software, email communications, blogs
and the internet are examples of other crucial political tools that are
underused by Conservatives. In an age when the number of committed
activists is on the decline, smart politics requires that those scant
resources, be they financial or personnel, be applied to the best
effect and the abilities of those activists be used most productively.
There is nothing so disheartening as seeing a keen young
computer-literate student simply being handed a pile of leaflets to
deliver when the smart application of political technology could see
that student using his computer skills to design a direct mail package
that would raise enough money for those leaflets to be delivered
professionally in far greater numbers than is the case in most
Law 1 of the Public Policy Process is therefore this: POLITICAL TECHNOLOGY DETERMINES POLITICAL SUCCESS.
The Young Britons’ Foundation offers training in the latest campaign
techniques and other aspects of political technology to activists of
all ages. For further information, contact Donal Blaney via
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the introduction to this series.