Every week the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the Young Britons’ Foundation, Donal Blaney, explains one of Morton Blackwell’s Laws of the Public Policy Process. Morton Blackwell is the Founder and President of the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
Number 6: A prompt, generous letter of thanks can seal a commitment which otherwise might disappear when the going gets rough.
Conservative politics has more than its fair share of people who take others for granted. We fall victim to it and we are guilty of doing it. Hand on heart I expect that all of us will have treated other activists in a manner we would rather not be treated ourselves.
Gratitude is a scarce commodity in politics and yet it is essential. For my own part, I have helped out a number of candidates throughout the years. Some I have helped only once because they didn’t have the manners to thank me at the end of a day’s canvassing. Southampton Test Conservative Association in the early 1990s was a wholly unwelcoming place: its officers stood in stark contrast to the more welcoming officers of Southampton Itchen Conservative Association. The officers in Itchen thanked us for our efforts, invited us to political discussions and actively sought our ideas and input. The officers in Test found student activists to be an irritant (or so it seemed). Even though Southampton University was in Test, the university Conservatives worked in Itchen and campaigned for Chris Chope and Peter Fleet.
On the other hand I have been moved to spend more time campaigning for other candidates who thanked me after I had given my time to help their campaign or, more impressively, who had written to thank me. There is no substitute for a handwritten letter of thanks (such as those the old Michael Portillo was wont to send).
There will be times when help is needed, often at short notice. Failing to thank activists adequately for work done on previous occasions could make it far harder to obtain assistance when it is most required. While the issues we care about are incredibly important, we must not lose sight of human nature. Thanking people for helping you out – particularly if done in writing – is invaluable.
THE PREVIOUS ENTRY IN THIS SERIES – A WELL-RUN MOVEMENT TAKES CARE OF ITS OWN.