Political Promise

The Political Frontline: An Insider’s View

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Before I begin this piece it is necessary to address a misconception. The political frontline is not Parliament. It is not Downing Street. It is not the headquarters of the major parties. These are the corridors of power, but they are not the avenues of democracy.  Rather, the frontline is at the grassroots of the political system, the local, rather than the national. It is here, rather than in a party’s PR department, that elections are fought, here that they are won and lost.

Much has been said of the peculiarities of the British electoral system in recent weeks, as it appears increasingly likely that a party with a significant minority in the popular vote will find itself with a majority, if not an overall majority, of Parliamentary seats. While many criticisms can be levelled at this peculiar system, inherited not from a coherent vision, but from a stalled evolution, this is not my aim in this article. Instead it is built upon its most significant asset; the link between the local and the national.

No matter how successful a national campaign, elections are often decided by the performance of individual candidates and their ability to communicate with their constituents. The constituency link ensures that grassroots electioneering remains at the core of any successful campaign. As I write this, I have just competed organising 5000 leaflets into delivery rounds. Tomorrow, I will begin to contact local party members and ask, persuade and probably cajole them into assisting.

But this should not be the case. If the recent televised leaders debate has demonstrated anything, it is that the British public is far from bored by politics. I have had more political discussions with my apolitical friends in the past week than during the entire lifetime of the last Parliament. People remain committed to political causes, and yet mainstream political participation is at an all time low.

Grassroots campaigning is hard work. It is exhausting, and often frustrating. Yet it is never dull. To witness a campaign from start to finish, to meet candidates, attend debates, talk to voters and above all to fight for that in which you believe is a hugely rewarding experience.

Political parties can often seem to be distant organizations. Local parties often appear tired and lifeless. From personal experience, making yourself heard over voices forty years your senior can be difficult. But perseverance will bring its own rewards. To truly experience an election campaign, one must be part of it. So contact your local constituency party, and get involved. It is a decision you are unlikely to regret.

Alexander Guest


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