CCHQ have announced that they are replacing plastic membership cards with a paper certificate as a symbol of our commitment to the environment. Party members on Twitter were left baffled by the decision, especially as a lot of us keep our membership cards in our purses and wallets, something we now can’t do with a certificate. Why doesn’t the Party develop an app that doubles as a digital membership card and a hub for Party updates, information and event details?
The NHS Give Blood app is a good example of a digital membership card. On that app, you can find a digital copy of your donor card, simplifying any trips to give blood. Beyond having a digital membership card, the Party app could have multiple spaces under different tabs in a menu – Party news, events, association updates, membership information, donations and the merchandise shop.
The emails we receive from CCHQ could be uploaded onto the app into the Party news space, sending us a push notification when they’re live. Many of us get our news from apps and social media platforms, so having an archive of all previous Party statements and announcements would be helpful to members who might not be too organised in their personal email inboxes. This would also allow the Party to send us more content. From key speeches in Parliament and results of votes, to behind-the-scenes videos from MPs, the app could be a brilliant way to communicate with members and to keep us all in the loop. If there is ever a story which needs a rebuttal from the Government, this could be sent straight into member’s hands. If we need to hear for the 100th time that we aren’t selling the NHS to President Trump in a trade deal, the Prime Minister or Liz Truss could record a quick selfie video to push out to members. It’s simple and makes the membership feel like they have a relationship with the country’s leadership.
Event information could be uploaded to the app. Not only national events like Party Conference, but also local events. If the app is only accessible for members and it recognises which association you are a member of, this could be tailored to the member’s location. Information about local campaigning sessions are usually shared in WhatsApp groups. Whilst this is a quick and easy way to communicate with your regular members, it may be preventing others from getting involved if they aren’t on the chat and do not know the event details. A member of the association could be elected as an Association Digital Officer. As part of their role, they could be an administrator on the app, allowing them to upload information about campaign days. If we really want to push the boat out, why not enable this to link to our smartphone calendars?
Having a local digital administrator would give an association a better idea of members in the area. From personal experience – I was a member of one association as a teenager, but I now live elsewhere and campaign locally but haven’t updated my membership details. Ed McGuiness, a former parliamentary candidate, mentioned the idea of having a membership space on the app where you could amend your own details. Whilst changes may have to be approved by the Party, it would make the process of joining a new association simpler. The administrator could be the only person who sees those using the app who are also members of their association. This is also an opportunity to engage younger association members.
There could be a donation section on the app. This would make it simpler for members to donate smaller amounts of money and may encourage more people to donate if it is easily accessible on their smartphone. The merchandise shop could also have a section on the app (improving the quality of merchandise should also be discussed – I want a smart, high-quality, winter campaign coat, please).
For those who don’t want to use the app, the old systems can still be in place under a hybrid model. I am aware that a lot of members may be older and not accustomed to using this technology so we can still opt in to receive the same emails, members can receive their paper certificate if they want one and WhatsApp groups will still exist. An app would, however, bring politics up to speed with the outside world whilst improving the membership experience. Yes, this would be costly and it would require a new team of staff at CCHQ, but for all the perks, I would pay more for my membership.