THE CAMPAIGN OFFICE! Lessons from the Labour Party (UK)

In the lessons from Axelrod’s Believer, I mostly focused on the Candidate and the Campaign Team. One thing that we did not talk about is Campaign Office or in other words Campaign Headquarters. In this brief entry, our subject will be the CAMPAIGN OFFICE. Having a Campaign Office is as crucial as having a team itself because it’s the centre of coordination.

The Campaign Office helps in organizing ideas, managing resources, planning, and all other key issues needed for the campaign to run smoothly. It is a logistic hub for both “software” – i.e. ideas, messaging, communications etc, and “hardware”- meetings, resources, campaigning tools, etc

Yesterday, my bro- Shirumisha came across an interesting article from the Guardian UK and he immediately shared with me. It was about “Labour party’s general election campaign war room”. The article even shows the floor plan and who sits where. This article was a significant hit on me as to how a Campaign Office is an integral part of a successful campaign.

With the Labour party doing very well at the moment in this campaign, we can gain some insights and lessons from this office arrangement, composition, and division of work. It is important to note that the sub-teams in the office are similar to what we learnt from Axelrod. And this should not be a surprise because such Campaign Offices also known as War Rooms have their origins in the 1990s USA Democrats of which they called “catalysts for decision-making”. The Labour Party had also commissioned Axelrod to help them- I am not sure if he is still doing it.

In the Labour Campaign Office floor plan, we see two major rooms/sections: (1) the leaders’ room – where Ed Miliband (the party chairman and also the CANDIDATE) and his personal staff sits and (2) the main room where there’s the top that sits the Campaign manager and subteams.

In the Leaders Room:

  • There’s a daily meeting at 7:45am. This meeting looks at the plan of the day and make decisions.
  • Remember THE CANDIDATE is often on the ground than in the office.

The processing of everything happens in the Top Table where the following sits:

  • The Campaign Manager/Chairman co-ordinates the overall campaign. He works closely with the Chief of Staff and assisted by Campaign Vice Chair.
  • There is also Director of Strategy who works closely with the POLL-STER
  • Under the Director of Strategy there’s Strategic Intervention Team that includes Speech Writer (Axelrod calls them Wordssmith), Media Adviser, Press Team, Digital Media Team. This team deals with air war as well – i.e. social media and online issues.
  • There’s a Party Manifesto Head, who is assisted with policy attack, rebuttal, and messaging team.
  • Finally theirs a Director of Field Operations, who works closely with the leaders’ staff.

Other important factors to learn from the Labour campaigns are: the use of statistics, for example they know how many volunteers they have recruited online; they have targets for door knocking and they keep record of numbers of door they have knocked and people spoken to.

 

For people/supporters to own the campaign, they are encouraged to contribute with whatever they have. In this way, people walk together with the CANDIDATE and THE TEAM towards the vision.

 

I am yet to learn about CAMPAIGN OFFICES of the Tories…and most curiously of other campaigns around the world including in my beloved country Tanzania. I will be sharing more.

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