Mar 5th, 2013
By Robin Priestley
After all the hype Mike Thornton of the Liberal Democrats has been signed in as the new MP for Eastleigh. 38 Degrees have spent the last few weeks down there making sure that the issues important to our members were debated in what was seen to be a key battleground for the coalition.
Campaigning at the by-election was a first for the 38 Degrees team, but something we’ll need to do more of leading up to the next General Election.
People power could play a hugely important role in the general election in 2015. Although there are lots of safe seats across Great Britain (and yours may be one of them), there will be some towns and cities viewed as key battlegrounds, and these could help determine the election result.
Billboards and bicycles reminding people to register to vote
The members in Eastleigh worked hard to get their voices heard. Adverts were run in the local paper and on mobile billboards to remind people to register to vote. Local members voted on the most pressing issues and then emailed the candidates about them. We even held a ‘quiz the candidates’ event where nearly 200 people packed out a local hall and grilled the candidates on everything from the NHS to immigration.
Advertising for our hustings event and a packed hall
We’ve learnt a lot in the process about what our organisation can do in an election, what works and what doesn’t. And we’ve also shown prospective MPs that 38 Degrees members are actively engaged in the process and expect to be listened to.
Come the general election there will be dozens of battlegrounds like this across the country and we’ll need everyone to chip in and help make sure that the debates are around issues we care about, rather than those of the big parties and their spin doctors.
See below to see the edited video of people power in action at the hustings and click here for the full version, candidate responses to our questions, our election packs and more.
Some comments from Eastleigh 38 Degrees members:
“I was one of those who was crammed into the hall, and very pleased I was to be there and witness the evenings events. I thought that the whole proceedings were extremely well organised and very well orchestrated by the young man in the “chair”.”
“I would like to thank everyone on the team for the splendid job that you carried out on our behalf in highlighting the issues, carrying out surveys and promoting petitions for the Eastleigh By-Election. There is no doubt whatsoever that your efforts have been very successful in bringing to the attention of the candidates exactly what the electorate expects of them, irrespective of who the winner is tonight.
“I want to thank you for Chairing last Evening’s Meeting at Pavillion in the Park, so well. Despite a couple of folk trying to ‘Steam Roller’ the Proceeding and some Residents making some memorable comments, I feel the Meeting went well….This was the first such meeting I’ve been to and, for my interest in Politics, it shouldn’t be my last. “