The pandemic forced us to cancel local and mayoral elections, pushing them into next year. With almost a year of social distancing under our belts, it seems right for Digital Tories to explore how campaigning has changed due to the virus and how we are getting prepared for 2021.
We have not been able to knock on doors to speak to residents and when delivering leaflets has been allowed, we have not been able to get big teams together to cover a lot of ground. We have really had to think outside the box to keep in touch with our communities.
Associations have kept members engaged and raised crucial campaign funds by organising Zoom calls with Ministers or high-profile members of the Party. In my view, this has been brilliant for getting more people involved in politics, especially young members and women.
Zoom calls are a very safe place. You can network in the comfort of your own home and can have as much of an input into a conversation as you want. Recently, Camden Conservatives hosted a Zoom panel event with Baroness Anne Jenkin, Cllr Maria Higson and me. We spoke about how we must make sure that we keep a hybrid system of campaigning in a post-Covid world to allow members across the country, particularly women, to stay connected to Westminster. I guarantee that we will see huge numbers of new faces pounding the pavement next year as so many people have been able to access events that usually seem restricted to an impenetrable bubble of the SW1 inner circle. People have gained confidence and I hope they take that energy to the doorstep when it is safe to do so.
Our own launch event last week brought together an extraordinary group of MPs, industry experts and Party members from every corner of the country. We used Zoom’s breakout room function to have small Q&A sessions with the panellists, ensuring that as many attendees as possible could ask questions. It is so important that Conservative groups continue to use this technology to improve member’s accessibility to those making the policy decisions in Parliament.
Beyond this, we’ve had to level up our social media game. It has become widely known that if a person is likely to post on community Facebook pages, they are likely to make the trip to the ballot box to vote for their representative at council level. I know that a lot of campaigning for the mayoral elections is happening across social media platforms, with Shaun Bailey pumping out some brilliant content for cyber soldiers to share across their online networks.
To explore digital campaigning in the Conservative Party, I have pulled together a number of writers to tell you about their expert knowledge and experience of digital campaigning. Across the week, you’ll hear from Andrew Bowie MP who will tell us about his work on youth engagement, as well as Cllr Mike Rouse discussing all things local government. It is all well and good hearing about the positive impact of digital campaigning, but we cannot ignore how this is impacting other industries, so I asked Simon Jupp MP to remind us how the shift online has impacted the radio industry.
We have got some other great articles lined up, so please stay tuned for what is guaranteed to be a thought-provoking week. With the news of successful vaccines, it won’t be long until we move from predominantly online campaigning to a new hybrid system as we prepare for battle at the 2021 elections!