Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes


9:10 am - May 13th 2011

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contribution by Andy May

The first ever national UK referendum on our voting system was always going to be a difficult affair. But the size of the loss cannot just be attributed to the political environment we were in. Those who ran the Yes campaign must take a long hard look at themselves.

From the very start the self interest of the major funders and the senior management’s lack of creativity, lack of experience and inability to listen to staff and activists’ concerns had a very negative impact on the chances of success. These are just some of the contributing factors.

Staffing: We lacked staff with experience in basic political campaigning. Although some certainly stepped up to the plate and did some outstanding work – this cost us.

The most experienced people in the campaign were often the regional organisers – who had up to 20-30 years experience from Labour or the Lib Dems in some cases. At HQ there were just a couple of people who had any deeper experience than running a constituency campaign – yet had hugely important roles with national influence.

Phone Banks: The phone bank strategy yielded somewhere in the region of 500,000 contacts when 3 million had been originally projected. I do not have the overall complete cost of this but know it was somewhere over £600,000 or £1.20 a contact.

This turned out much worse than quotes from a commercial company. The reasons for this were partially technology failure, partially a lack of willingness of activists to do high volumes of calling and also a very unrealistic target being set right at the start in terms of the numbers of calls that could physically be made.

Public awareness levels about AV and the referendum were very low so many of the early contacts made were not Yes or Nos but ‘Don’t Knows’ which were of little use to follow up ‘Get out the Vote’ calls.

Campaign literature: Until sometime in March 2011 the central campaign never had a coherent literature plan for political parties. Not one single piece of literature, bar the polling day leaflet, was produced on time. The first A4 leaflet took five weeks to produce (unheard of in political circles) after escalating complaints from activists and regional and central staff.

Most of the time regional staff did not get an opportunity to even look at the material they were supposed to be trying to sell in to local political parties to delivery before it was already printed. This massively reduced the goodwill of local constituency parties.

Media and communications: At a national level we had a very experienced head of communications who had extensive links into the lobby and some very useful relationships with newspapers in England and Scotland. However our media was too reactive.

Every proactive idea came too late, allowing the no campaign to tar us as the dodgy donor campaign, or the campaign that would allow BNP supporters more votes. Either we should have got down and dirty with them or totally ignored them and played the moral high ground. Yet we fell between both positions and went into reactive mode, which simply played into their hands.

At a regional level our regional staff never received even the most basic of media support. For instance they would often receive second hand the national press releases hours after the useful period had passed.

For nearly the whole campaign they never received template press releases, any sort of communications grid, and only really received proper support on regional media work in the final two weeks.

Advertising: Not one of the creative concepts designed ever saw the light of day despite costing the campaign tens of thousands of pounds. There has already been a report in the Guardian about the giant pin striped bottom, but there were half a dozen more where that came from.

Fundraising: A number of consultancy arrangements were made on the campaign at considerable cost to the war chest. This meant things like the Freepost and above the line advertising suffered badly from lack of funds.

The Freepost was only sent to about 11 million households due to lack of money – yet we never had a professional fundraiser from the start working to raise more money.

Polling: A six figure sum was spent on polling and the original message testing back in August to conduct a series of polls and focus groups. This was a huge spend and no further focus grouping was conducted until well into the short campaign when last minute focus groups were pulled together.

This found that one of the key messages that the campaign had run with for months ‘a small change that makes a big difference’ didn’t even resonate particularly well with the public.

* * * * * * * * * *

Mistakes are always made, strategies are always changed and referendum campaigns are rare so things are likely to go wrong. It’s not the things going wrong that we activists who worked so hard should be angry about. It’s that a chorus of voices in the campaign at various levels were saying that things were not working but were repeatedly ignored.

And yet, the ground campaign we managed to build up the closest equivalent ever seen to a political party machine, created by a non-party campaign. And we did this in less than nine months. This was only possible through a superb network of regional staff, from all parties and non-aligned backgrounds who bonded and worked together across party lines.

All those organisations fighting for constitutional reform – though some of the problems and the wider environment were out of your hands, telling people we would have lost anyway is not good enough. Reform yourselves first – then reform the voting system.


Andy May was National Manager of the Regional Staff for the Yes Campaign and formerly National Organiser of Take Back Parliament.
This is an edited-down version of a longer report he has written.

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Reader comments


I had planned to make a major contribution to the Yes2AV campaign in my area. However, circumstances changed. I found myself standing as a candidate in the local District Council elections, and heading a strong local campaign opposing library cuts and closures. Something had to give. Unfortunately, it was the AV campaign.

Well said, Andy. As I argued in my earlier post on the same topic, lessons MUST be learned. It is very very valuable to have your perspective on this. It is important to have a real insider validate the concerns that many of us have been expressing about this campaign…
It is just tragic that these kinds of concerns weren’t listened to earlier. But it also makes one angry. Someone ought to carry the can for some of this. And yet I hear that the Yes campaign is not planning to have any full or formal debrief!?! Incredible – and unacceptable.

I’d love to know just how much was spent on what overpriced consultants.

5. Jack Ashton

I want to Eco what Andy said. I worked in the regional campaign in Yorkshire as one of the phone bank mangers. We worked dam hard to make the campaign a success but when a stack of leaflets turns up at the office a week after the event has finished it is rather demoralising and a total waist of time and money.

You were betrayed by your own smugness and self-righteousness.

I mean, come on, you needed to win over Labour supporters.

So you chose Eddie Izzard (he’s made it a hat-trick now, hasn’t he?) and Stephen Fry to attack John Reid and John Prescott.
While disdaining any support from the likes of Nigel Farage.
But then he’s not “one of us” is he?
Then, for your finale, you brought in Mandelson.

Sheer genius!

7. Laura Gordon

Gosh… this echos a lot of concerns we’d had at local level (I was on the steering group in Oxford, made hundreds of calls, delivered thousands of leaflets, and ran several street stalls). A lot of the flaws you mention are things we’d definitely suspected, but worse than I’d ever imagined. I realise you can’t post it here, but would love to know through unofficial sources the agencies etc involved so that I can avoid them in future…

The YES campaign was eminently winnable. But it ended up being run by readers of the Guardian for readers of the Guardian. Readers of this newspaper are about 1% of the voting electorate – and are also a statistically extreme group. Their views do not chime remotely with mainstream British opinion. There is no purist Guardian editorial proposition that could ever come close to winning a referendum in the UK.

I never voted on this, but I think there is a lot right in this criticism of the Yes campaign.

http://hurryupharry.org/2011/05/11/why-yes-to-av-lost/

I am glad someone articulated the frustrations I have been feeling.

“The Freepost was only sent to about 11 million households due to lack of money – yet we never had a professional fundraiser from the start working to raise more money.”

After receiving some pretty poor fund-raising calls I contacted the campaign, twice, to say that I used to be a professional telephone fundraiser, that I could see the technical problems with the calls, and offered my services to help improve the quality of the fundraising.

My emails were not even acknowledged, let alone my offer taken up, save to receive more weak calls asking for more money (sometimes more than once on the same day).

Getting a clear message (‘AV is fairer because X’, and – importantly – ‘FPTP is bad because Y’) out to most of the country was far more important than snazzy websites or social media campaigning that was only ever going to reach a small proportion of the population.

11. Elizabeth Baldwin

Andy May came to Oxford to set up the Oxfordshire group last August; I became involved shortly after. As group secretary I coordinated a very large and successful group of fantastic, passionate activists. Thank you so much, to all of you.

We were consistently let down by central office.

I echo Any May’s call to the organisations involved. Reform yourselves.

@ 6 cj

Nigel Farage?! Seriously?

Come on…. not only is he “not one of us”, he’s a comedy character from a comedy party. The fact that a proportion of disaffected, blimpish Tory little Englanders take him seriously doesn’t mean everyone else has to. The only value he and his deeply unpleasant movement have is in diminishing Tory support.

There you go!

Strangely enough I bet Farage would have had a far better chance of getting Mrs Duffy on board than any number of Izzards.

But then I always forget how much metropolitan Labourites actually hate their supporters.

The fact that a proportion of disaffected, blimpish Tory little Englanders take him seriously doesn’t mean everyone else has to. The only value he and his deeply unpleasant movement have is in diminishing Tory support.

At the beginning of the campaign, Labour and Tory supporters were split between Yes and No, while Lib Dems were overwhelmingly Yes.

The No campaign focused on recruiting high (ish) profile Old Labour MPs like Reid, Beckett and Prescott to at least keep Labour split on the issue, as well as leveraging high profile Tories (Cameron, Osborne etc). That way they could portray the No campaign as bi-partisan and avoid framing the referendum as a left/right split. It also sought to avoid being seen as an establishment campaign – even though essentially that was what it was.

The Yes campaign concentrated on persuading those who really ought to have been persuaded already. Who was the public face of the campaign? Eddie Izzard & Stephen Fry? Two better examples of the liberal establishment it would be hard to find. The message was also about ‘stopping the Tories ever winning power again’, and ‘permanent progressive majorities’. They only ever played, in other words, to half the audience. Trying to win a national referendum by appealing only to the metropolitan progressive vote was about as doomed a tactic as could be imagined.

The reason that Farage could have been useful to the Yes campaign was that he offered a reason to vote Yes from the right. He is also probably a more effective populist campaigner than Eddie Izzard (European election results?). But because the Yes campaign weren’t interested in trying to persuade the right, they didn’t bother.

@13 cj

The fact that you “bet it” doesn’t make it so.

I’m not a “Labourite” (did you fall through a time vortex from the 1950’s or what….?), nor am I “metropolitan” so I couldn’t comment as to whether they hate their supporters whatever their geographical status. It sounds much more like an unsubstantiated prejudice you have than an actual phenomenon.

Trotting out celebrities didn’t make any difference one way or the other; the Yes campaign failed chiefly because it was a system nobody really wanted, with significant subsidiary reasons that Clegg and the LD’s had become toxic and some used the vote as a chance to give them a kicking, and as noted in the OP that the Yes campaign was a shambles.

16. Rob Rankin

I really hope JRT, ERS and UD read this report carefully and take note, a lot of the lessons Andy details should have been learnt from the Power 2010 campaign where inter organisational squabbling, dodgy advertising, poor press/campaign strategy and even poorer support for grassroots campaigners outside of London characterised what was on the whole an ineffective campaign. I find it incredibly frustrating that these problems still occurred during the most important campaign for democratic reformers to date.

The overwhelming positive to take away from the Yes campaign is the number of dedicated activists and volunteers who worked tirelessly on the ground up and down the country. I believe, if future reform campaigns are to be successful, then developing and supporting grassroots activism must be at the centre of a long term strategy to win the public, not political, support.

Excellent report Andy, well done!

I’d have to agree with cjcjc on the Farage front, UKIP would have seen a gain from an AV yes vote. The point of electoral reform is surely to make all voter’s votes count, not to just advance a left-leaning agenda. By leaving Nigel out in the cold and not even attempting to persuade the right the Yes campaign effectively gave the impression that electoral reform was solely a left wing concern.

18. Becky Luff

In time I hope to write more, but for now I just want to support all that Andy has written. It is a fair and accurate reflection that remains impressively free from mud-slinging.

@ 17 Cylux

“I’d have to agree with cjcjc …..”

Uh huh… a pretty good expectation that it will be bollocks already then…..

..and we have a winner!!

“By leaving Nigel out in the cold and not even attempting to persuade the right …”

The non-UKIP right supporting electoral reform is insignificant, so it would have been wasted effort, and since the few UKIP voters not busy biting carpets and writing strongly worded letters to the Daily Mail were already aware AV would be good for them… what was the point in preaching to the converted? Cosying up to mentalists like UKIP would have frightened more people off than it attracted.

The battleground where the issue was lost was amongst Labour voters and left of centre disaffected/ex LD supporters.

20. TorquilMacneil

“The fact that a proportion of disaffected, blimpish Tory little Englanders take him seriously doesn’t mean everyone else has to. ”

No it doesn’t. But he had a better chance of moving those ‘blimpish little Englanders’ (and the snobbery just drips from that phrase, doesn’t it?) than Eddie Izzard ever did. And I think it is likely that he could have reached wider than his core supporters because he is very good at making the sort of anti-establishment argument that the Yes vote completely failed to articulate. But imagine! What if your friends had seen you with someone like THAT! Does he own even a single piece of Prada????!

21. Ivor Cornish

As an outsider I feel that whatever the competences of the YES campaign it was an uphill struggle to combat the black propaganda from the NO campaign.
The NO’s quickly established the debate on their ground using emotive posters and lies, forcing the YES campaign onto the back foot. The YES campaign had a hard time attempting to sell a mediocre product, especially as it was associated with Clegg . The inadequacies and naivety of the LIbDems initial negotiating tactics with the Tories are to blame. Rather than be seduced by the prospect of sharing power they should not have been so supine and realised that the Tories were more desperate for power than they were. The LibDems should have drawn a line in the sand with many policies and PR was one of them.

22. Chris Burgess

Well said Andy – completely agree with your analysis. It was very clear to those of us on the ground how disfunctional the Central Team were.

I was the Deputy Regional Organiser for the West Midlands, and have committed the past 9 months to the campaign as a volunteer (including up to 20 hr days in the last week). I pay tribute to all the very hard-working volunteers – who gave so much of their time.

You have said exactly what needed to be said. All the organisations involved need to be in a better place to win if we are ever to get a chance to win similar campaigns in the future. Thanks for speaking out.

Galen’s dripping disdain is fine – in fact I love it.

It shows how little has changed since Orwell wrote this in 1941.

“In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box. All through the critical years many left-wingers were chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British. It is questionable how much effect this had, but it certainly had some. If the English people suffered for several years a real weakening of morale, so that the Fascist nations judged that they were ‘decadent’ and that it was safe to plunge into war, the intellectual sabotage from the Left was partly responsible. Both the New Statesman and the News Chronicle cried out against the Munich settlement, but even they had done something to make it possible. Ten years of systematic Blimp-baiting affected even the Blimps themselves and made it harder than it had been before to get intelligent young men to enter the armed forces. Given the stagnation of the Empire, the military middle class must have decayed in any case, but the spread of a shallow Leftism hastened the process.”

Come on…. not only is he “not one of us”, he’s a comedy character from a comedy party. The fact that a proportion of disaffected, blimpish Tory little Englanders take him seriously doesn’t mean everyone else has to. The only value he and his deeply unpleasant movement have is in diminishing Tory support.

See, this is the problem – that’s how you see him but not how much of the British public sees him. One of the great, glaring problems of the Yes campaign is that they built their propaganda round their own perceptions of the world without taking other people’s into account. Lots of British people – let’s remember how UKIP performed at the Euro elections – would see someone they’d trust more than a bunch of liberals.

As it is, Yes2AV had people and promotionals who’d win them a lot of retweets but not many votes.

Always heartening when someone is willing to step forward and acknowledge that mistakes were made. Should any further campaigning be done I hope these lessons are taken on board.

Did you see The Sun headlines the day before the election with Cameron asking readers to vote NO! There was no way the YES campaign had a chance against all the propaganda against it that was pumped out in our right wing press!! Get real. YOU ONLY WIN ELECTIONS AND VOTES WHEN THE SUN AND THE MAIL ARE ON YOUR SIDE!!

I agree with Andy! I think we feel let down and so should the people of the uk, our campaign just wasn’t good enough. I should imagine some people still haven’t found their easter eggs

28. Roy Everitt

I’m grateful to Andy for writing this honest an open assessment of the campaign.
However it is worth noting that given the sheer size of the crushing defeat even if the YES to AV had run a flawless campaign and the NO to AV a hopeless and entirely ineffective one we still would have lost by quite a large margin for two reasons:

1. to quote Professor Robert Hazell, Director, UCL Constitution Unit on April 15th “I predict that the AV referendum will be lost. I’m pretty confident about that for a range of reasons. The main reason is that The British Public know nothing about electoral systems and frankly care even less.” and you cannot MAKE people interested in something they don’t care about – hence why 58% of the electorate didn’t vote.
2. Of those that DO care to vote are easily manipulated by the PRESS, MEDIA and ESTABLISHMENT.
3. It doesn’t help when the Prime Minister is against you and the most hated politician in modern history is for you.

For this reason I have now concluded that this was a referendum we could never have won.

29. TorquilMacneil

Good lord! Professor Robert Hazell is unusually up-front with his ‘we can’t win because people are too stupid to know what is good for them’ analysis. I don’t know if that is refreshing or depressing.

@23 cj

Ah yes, the Bob B school of “throw an Orwell quote at it, it might make me look like I know what I’m talking about”.

Some of what Orwell says has resonance, and some doesn’t. As a Scot, I’ve long felt that the English have a stunted sense of their own nationality; in some ways that’s no bad thing of course. Whether the rest of what Orwell says about the English left & intelligensia 70 years ago has much relevance now is more open to question.

Many of the things that people on the centre left in this country were ashamed of in the 40’s remain problems today of course; but the context is so different that it’s difficult to see how they apply.

No wonder lots of people are disaffected and disillusioned with our system: 18 years of Thatcherism, 13 years of New Labour… and now a right wing Coalition enabled by the LD’s who have written their own death sentence as a party, and managed piss away the prospects of electoral reform for some time to come.

There is plenty of blame to go around of course… but sometimes people bite back, as my fellow countrymen did last Thursday. Perhaps the English should take a leaf out of their book and give the discredited Tory, Labour and LD parties a bit of a fright by voting for something else?

Refreshing and delightfully delusional.

More Izzard! More Fry! More Zephaniah!

Perhaps the English will!

Meanwhile I hope the Scots get what they richly deserve.

33. TorquilMacneil

” Perhaps the English should take a leaf out of their book and give the discredited Tory, Labour and LD parties a bit of a fright by voting for something else?”

The shade of Nigel Farage rises, nodding furiously.

@33 Torquil

If you actually think conjuring the shade of Nigel Farage as the English answer to Alex Salmond, or think that UKIP could do in England what the SNP has done in Scotland…. you need to start saving up for some therapy.

35. TorquilMacneil

“If you actually think conjuring the shade of Nigel Farage as the English answer to Alex Salmond, or think that UKIP could do in England what the SNP has done in Scotland…. you need to start saving up for some therapy.”

Because its not like the Scottish electoral system was explicitly designed to stop anyone doing what Alex Salmond has just done or anything like that, is it?

@32 cj

“Meanwhile I hope the Scots get what they richly deserve.”

The election results suggest they are happy to take responsibility for deciding what it is they deserve cj. Of course they managed to do it using a reformed electoral system specifically designed by New Labour to stop the SNP succeeding….. strange that eh?

The Scottish vote DOES have something to say about the “British” system however, and it’s tendency to stifle meaningful change; why else would we still have the semi-feudal system we do if not because succeeding governments of both Left and Right have been content to do what we’ve always done. The result? We get what we’ve always gotten, except in Scotland where a left of centre party takes votes and seats from all the other main parties and gains an absolute majority.

37. TorquilMacneil

“The Scottish vote DOES have something to say about the “British” system however, and it’s tendency to stifle meaningful change”

Because a quick glance at the political history of the UK since 1945 throws up few examples of ‘meaningful change’ does it? Thatcherism? Yawn, business as usual! The NHS and welfare state? Same old same old. Decriminalisation of homosexuality and abortion? Hardly ‘meaningful’! Devolving of power on Scotland and Wales? Just rearranging the feudal furniture. Anti sexism and racism legislation? Kids stuff!

38. Thatcherite Clegg

The description shows the campaign to be akin to one of the comedy episodes of The Apprentice where a bunch of out of their depth hapless incompetents make it up as they go along while getting every facet utterly wrong.

The fact of the matter is the elections show Nick Clegg the voter repellent was the main reason No won since everyone knew it was his idea, and Clegg’s foolish decision to hold the AV referndum it at the same time as those elections was the reason the campaign wasn’t run by professionals who were busy fighting elections.

39. DevonChap

The insulting of UKIP and Farage is wonderful. He was on your side for once and all you can do is insult him. Was voting AV something that would be sullied if evil little Englanders did it too?

40. TorquilMacneil

What a question, DevonChap! Have you seen the carpets these people have? Have you not noticed their nasty little houses, their ghastly clothes!

@37 Torquil

“Because a quick glance at the political history of the UK since 1945 throws up few examples of ‘meaningful change’ does it?”

The examples there are (however welcome) have frequently been woefully late, and of course opposed tooth and nail by the forces of reaction.

“Thatcherism? Yawn, business as usual!”

Not an example of change likely to appeal to many of a progressive frame of mind. Indeed, it might even be argued that the nasty medicine administered by the old trout was only necessary due to the sclerotic nature of the British establishment and system in previous decades.

“The NHS and welfare state?”

Huge achievements as far as most are concerned of course; but isn’t it a pity that similarly radical steps weren’t taken to dealing with the rest of our system at the same time? We had to wait much too long for thing like…..

“Decriminalisation of homosexuality and abortion? Hardly ‘meaningful’! Devolving of power on Scotland and Wales? Just rearranging the feudal furniture. Anti sexism and racism legislation? Kids stuff!”

All great, and all well overdue on account of the supine inability of succeeding governments to modernise (hardly surprising in the case of the Tories, unforgiveable in the case of Labour).

@ 39 Devon chap

You only have to listen to him to realise that he is a clueless chump; read any of the biopics about him, his belief system and the kind of thing he supports. the fact that his message resonates with a section of the population is nothing new….but, even if you were prepared to hold your nose and share a platform with him….. what would have been the point? The vote wasn’t lost because UKIP voters didn’t vote, or voted against.

The biggest problem from my pint of view was that less than half the population actually voted. There was no local election here just the referendum so no one got a polling card. Most of my friends didn’t vote because they didn’t know they could or even what day to vote on. More media coverage was given to the royal wedding then was given to this important issue, and as a result the only people who voted in large numbers were those scared into it by the No campaigns propaganda.

44. DevonChap

42: Roughly 30% of centre right voters were open to the idea of AV before the start of the short campaign according to Unlock Democracy. Many (such as myself) quite like the coalition. If AV was going to make more governments like it likely then those voters were open to be convinced. I myself pondered for ages about how to vote. Farage, whilst a buffon, would have allowed Yes to have been a non-party campaign. He would have given right wing cover for such pro AV Tories as existed (supposedly Grove was one) to come out and that could have recast the campaign. Instead Yes promised me no more Conservative governments ever and left wing rule forever. Why would I vote for that?

There is no progressive majority in this country. There are majorities for certain progressive ideas, as there are for right wing ones. You need coalitions of opinion to prevail on any given subject, which means working with those who agree with you on those issues, regardless of what you think of their opinions on other subjects. I doubt John Prescott and David Cameron agree on much yet they worked on an issue they agreed and won. Lesson to learn perhaps?

In Oxford we had an amazing team and we ran a great campaign. Andy fought hard to explain what we needed to a centre that wanted to sell a message of grassroots campaigning but really didn’t understand how to make it work. I Joined Charter 88 (which became Unlock Democracy) back in 1988 I’ve waited over 20 years for an opportunity to reform our politics. It was immensely frustrating to see that opportunity squandered by an inept central organisation.

My thanks to Andy for fighting for the right things during the campaign and for writing this. His analysis is spot on – we need to reform the reform movement. Katie Ghose of the ERS and Peter Facey of Unlock Democracy have a very short window of time in which to explain to us how they are going to fix things and they had better make it a convincing.

An interesting read Andy.

To be honest it just confirms my previously held view of these big lefty organisations – jobs for their ‘great and good’. The aristrocracy just became liberals. And so up themselves that they are *HAPPY* to lose rather than acknowledge that any view other than their own can ever have any value.

Its seems activists were ‘involved’ for two purposes – to deliver leaflets and make phone calls. The first (100% coverage) was available *FREE*, the second (you explain) would have been *CHEAPER* to have been done professionally! What a complete waste of the huge amount of time/effort/good will…

No doubt the ‘great and good’ thought it would be nice for these little (ie. not paid £500 a day) to feel involved…

ERS, Unlock Demcoracy (formerly Charter 88) etc… they ain’t got anywhere so far – when will the get the message that their approach is fundamentally flawed, and they are tying up funds that could be used for real change?

The local Brighton group had some great people – I hope they continue as an *independent* group so they can get on with things without awaiting orders from above — they simply don’t need orders from above, just resources!

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_202624526442754&ap=1

47. Neil Pocock

Hi. I became involved in TBP Bristol that morphed into Yes! Bristol and then Yes! South West. I helped to set up the initial group along with David Gould, Anthony Butcher and others, and backed away when I started to get more involved in my local area. I helped to start up Yes! Wiltshire, and on the eve of the referendum and the day itself delivered over 1000 leaflets in and around Bradford on Avon (ably helped by Sam Lawes, Peter Hayes and some others from Yes! Bath).
Andy’s piece above reflects the view I had of the campaign from the bottom up. Local organisers would routinely receive weekly bulletins, read them, decide what would actually work themselves and ignore the message from ‘on high’. This was mainly because the central HQ message was usually ineffectual and ill conceived. HQ were repeatedly told this, but never listened.

48. Richard Bell

I was Regional Organiser for West & (bits of) North London. There are some points that I would probably choose to emphasise to slightly different degrees than Andy has here, but I wanted to add quickly that I support every criticism put in this article.

Just reading the full version of Andy’s report and he mentions a ‘head of fundraising’ who was on £500 per day. £130k pro rata. And she couldn’t even come up with a strategy!

That’s got to be Pam Giddy, surely? She’s a JRRT Trustee, and from what I know of Power2010 that sounds like her MO (unbelievable laziness and incompetence). That’s £2m her and the JTR have wasted in two years now, across two awful campaigns

I was genuinely undecided at the start of the referendum campaign. I read my “no” campaign leaflet and waited for a “yes” one which for the reasons set out above never arrived. I must confess the idea of pissing off Nick Clegg seemed tempting. However, trying to be responsible, I waited to be convinced by someone. I heard no argument that caught my attention in either direction (although I found David Starkey the most interesting of those who tried). I made the effort to watch young voters’ question time. I didn’t hear anything that convinced me that AV would change anything nor any articulation of why FPTP was a particularly bad thing (as opposed to an an imperfect system in an imperfect world). And so I decided that while AV might be fractionally better it wasn’t ENOUGH better to justify the aggravation (note I didn’t say “cost”) of a change, the consequences in terms of formation of governments of which (if any) I didn’t really get. So I voted “no”. I’m sure I could have been convinced to vote “yes” and in many ways that would have been my instinct. I guess there were quite a few others like me.

51. Rebel Saint

I got involved with the campaign locally (leafleting a few hrs on the phonebank) and made a small donation to the national campaign.

I’ve got no experience of political campaigns and so can’t really comment on the effectiveness of the campaign on that level.

But here is the feedback I got from people I canvassed … our leaflets didn’t explain what AV was or how it worked or why it was fairer. That was all left to the NO campaign who did so with malicious lies & exaggerations.

Not until the final TV commercial (pub versus coffee) did people understand what AV was or how it worked. By then I suspect it was too late. I forwarded the video to a few people who said, “Ah, now I understand”. I suspect some focus group said people wouldn’t be interested in the ‘mechanics’ so chose to go with emotive themes instead. If my sample is representative then it was a poor decision.

The other factor of course was demographics. The overwhelming people of pensionable age that I spoke to were voting NO. Not because of any understanding of the issues but because of that word “change” and the idea that what they knew “already worked”. A lost cause I fear.

Thanks Andy, that’s a good read. Our impression of the phone banks was even worse though; they were set up to cold call members of the public but it then transpired that this was an illegal use of the data and we had to revert to pretending that it was part of a ‘survey’.

It seems quite astonishing that no one thought to check if the major platform for the campaign was even legal, let alone feasible in terms of getting volunteers to phone millions of people *before* spending the money.

There’s then the issue of whether people would be put off by being cold-called. I hate it and find it very invasive; it would be more likely to make me vote the other way if anything.

Another issue was recruitment. I know that James Graham was complaining about working solo for much of the web campaign, but there were several of us who volunteered to get directly involved. We could have created and run a fantastic web presence between us for far less money. Instead we were told to go off and do our own thing.

The central campaign didn’t really understand how to plug in the volunteers. Three or four of us could have assisted James. He could have assigned us various small roles to play to ease his load. However the organisational culture seemed to be that the salaried people would do everything.

Making better use of volunteers has to be a major learning point for the future.

This seemed to carry on throughout the campaign – we had many very experienced and qualified people whose skills were never utilised.

With regard to Blue State Digital, had anyone bothered to ask our opinion I could have told them to avoid them. We used them for the Libertas campaign in 2009 and they were very poor IMHO.

I tried to push for an online campaign coordinator position to be created several times but was rebuffed (although I know that you supported the idea Andy). Given our supporter base, we should have been winning every debate on the web through having three times as many people posting.

It is a real shame that Andy May didn’t have a more influential position given his obvious ability to pull people together – what he achieved with TBP in such a short time was amazing. I couldn’t believe how many people turned up to those first rallies.

Take Back Parliament should have been the official YES campaign. 🙂

a good post, but the real reason Yes2AV didn’t win was because it couldn’t convince me and many other supporters of electoral reform to vote for it. each of those identified reasons were mere part contributors.

so a thousand and more steps went into my decision to abstain and each of them are relevant, and anyone jabbing their finger too forcefully in any one single direction needs a poke in their eye to tell them that they are shirking their responsible for the failure.

I’ll keep away from specific complaints though and say the plain desperation of the yes campaign was the biggest turn-off.

Just ask yourself, if it were a free choice would you pick AV as your first choice voting system – the ironic truth was that AV could’ve won, but only if the referendum had been decided by AV!

Thanks Andy!
This is a very informative post – and I would consider the longer version required reading for everybody who was involved with this campaign.

I got involved in one of the May 2010 TBP demonstrations, and later on, joined my local campaign as a little volunteer. However, as the local organisers put into place by the campaign disappeared (with one very crucial exception), I ended up more or less running the local campaign in my city (Swansea). As you might imagine, it wasn’t a campaign to match some of the well-supported well-organised organisations in other places, but at least we got some things done.

Even from my position twice removed from central I kept asking what on earth was going on, and so much in Andy’s report now explains details which were difficult to understand from my perspective. For example, I remember wondering what had happened when we heard that the campaign had run out of money, although they hadn’t actually used their free mailshot to send literature to all households nation wide! It’s a bit clearer now, thanks to Andy. I was also wondering about recruitment criteria and subsequent control of actual services provided by those people who were paid by the campaign.

Don’t get me wrong – most of the oficial capaign people were superb, but some of the teams needed a different mix of skills, and some people clearly didn’t do their job and were perhaps not even suited for it.

I have seen so much brilliant work during this campaign, including stuff that happened in our region. I hope we can continue the momentum, and I hope we can learn from the mistakes of the YES campaign.

I was / I am the co-convenor of the Edinburgh group. We won one constituency and were within 60 votes of winning three. I reckon the group I belong to did our job.

I personally have been involved in the campaign since May last year. I spent the 5th of May standing in the rain handing out polling day leaflets. I was not alone in Edinburgh. There were dozens of us.

Those parts of the operation I have direct expierence of I agree with Andy’s analysis. For those parts I didn’t have direct experience, Andy’s analysis helps explain the failures I did experience. I can see how the internal failures that Andy points out would lead to the experiences I had of the campaign organisation.

Overall my experience was of no plan and of not being listened to.

I agree with Chris in point 45 and Neil in point 47.

I also think we should have made huge overtures to UKIP and the SNP. The fact that UKIP poll 1 million votes in a First Past the Post General Election and 3 million at the Euro elections tells me that 2 million UKIP voters know all about how different voting systems make them vote in different ways. Oh, and in case anyone wasn’t paying attention I’d say the SNP were the most effective political party in the UK at the moment.

I knew we didn’t have enough people in Edinburgh. I repeatedly asked for events we were organising to be publicised to the “thousands of potential volunteers” on the central email register. I was repeatedly let down.

My Regional Officer seemed hugely over worked.

It took months to approve budget for a phone bank office and phone bank manager for Edinburgh. We were phone banking in my living room for months. My wife was almost in tears on occassion at having her home filled with people. When Gregor arrived he was a God send but he arrived quite late in the day.

Who ever was on fund raising duty for £500 a day should realise that a day of their time would have bought a month of a decent office in Edinburgh. We’d have reached thousands and thousands of additional people. Also my marriage would be a much happier place than it currently is.

Phone banking felt painful. The lists were not quality checked. You would find that four people living in the same house with different names were a few lines apart from each other. When I phoned round the list of super hot potential volunteers I got as many vervent No voters as I got volunteers.

I’m horrified at the lack of support my group got. We were one of the first to set up. We campaigned solidly on the streets throughout the winter. The demographic of Edinburgh supported Reform and we were having a General Election. We were already going to the polls. There was no need for a Get Out The Vote programme in Scotland, we had the SNP for that, all we had to do was persuade people to vote Yes. Where was our celebrity visit to a phone bank? It was in London. I think this is evidence that the people planning the campaign, weren’t.

I won’t stop campaigning for constitutional and electoral reform but I’d be really pleased if a few of the people running the Yes campaign did.

56. The Dexter

Interesting article – but you forgot one major point:

You were campaigning for a half-arsed bit of ‘reform’ that no one, not even your guru Clegg, wanted in the first place.

And you did not just lose – you were humiliated. You were trounced. You were destroyed.

I worked in the No campaign and we suffered from all of the points in your article. But the main thing we had going for us is that the public understood that AV would have been a disaster. We could have not printed one leaflet, not made one phone call, not produced one advert and we still would have won hands down.

As they say on the internet – LOL!

57. Paul Wingrove

The main message of the campaign was also wrong. An Australian political scientist, interviewed on BBC the day after the poll, said that the Yes Campaign had spent a lot of time talking about ‘peripheral’ issues such as MP behaviour, and, consequently, the public had little idea of what AV was about. Too right, mate. It made me laugh (hollowly) when I got an email from Yes Campaign, in the final days, which informed me that ‘the more people understand AV, the more likely they are to support it’. I responded with yet another of my pleas for the Yes people to explain AV to the great British public, since up to that point they had signally failed to do so. This may have been the most incompetent political campaign I have ever witnessed; probably driven by consultants; it has certainly killed off electoral reform for at least a generation.

@The Dexter

I think you are correct on one specific point – the No campaign had almost nothing to do with the result.

Peoples default position would be “no to change that I don’t understand” the work was all for the Yes campaign to do (get people to understand), and overall they failed to do that.

My experience was that people who could be persuaded to listen would support AV over FPTP. In three wards I was the only person doing Yes2AV, so looking forward to getting the results for the wards (which I have been told will be possible!).

The fact that we were in a position of having to not only explain the mechanics of AV but also to explain why we needed it was a major indicator that the YES campaign was fighting a major uphill battle.

This has simply highlighted the disparate nature of the reform ‘movement’ if such as thing exists. The Lib Dems want STV. UKIP wants AV+. The Greens want a two vote Additional Member System. No one really wanted AV.

We need to get the reform parties and organisations into a unified front now, with everyone supporting a single system. We then need to engage in a constant public education campaign to explain not only how the system works but why we need it. We mustn’t go into the next referendum, if we are lucky enough to have one, on the back foot.

I was involved in campaigning for the re-election of my local Lib Dem councillor (successful) and was willing to distribute leaflets for AV but nothing happened until the weekend before the referendum when he was lumbered with thousands of personalised letters to deliver. There was no planning time and I could not just drop everything and race out helping him and others distribute the literature. I know a Labour activist in another district who single-handedly posted hundreds of these bloody letters with no-one to help her. It was a stupid campaign that was very badly organised. It would not have been so difficult if the Lib Dems had not pushed for the referendum to be held on the same day as local elections.

How could the biggest grassroots campaign in centuries lose 32-68 to a campaign to keep the very reason that Britain is on a terminal decline?
I am a non-partisan political psychologist, formerly of NO2ID and was Bristol Yes! co-ordinator.

“Grassroots campaign eh?” I hear you say. Did you notice?

There were many good people in this campaign. I joined after travelling to London to meet the author of this piece, Andy. Our Bristol group contained 7+ extremely talented people. It seems that nearly all regional groups did a great job given the budget of £0 and the dithering of the central campaign. Andy can take credit for a lot of that.

Have you ever heard of a grassroots campaign where the leadership never talk to them, never mind listen? I still have no idea who people Andy mentioned are.

Core, partisan voters accounted for ~80% of the votes. This was predicted by myself and others as soon as the May 5th date was set. Outside of non-voting London, Scotland and Wales (who understand how bad FPTP is) and Oxbridge, it seems the grassroots had at most 7% influence over the result.

This was always going to be a result determined by the media. The reason grassroots won for Obama is not so much because they were a grassroots campaign but because the media portrayed them as one.

Yet only ~10% of our resources were aimed at the media. One thing I disagree with Andy on is that an early decision was made to ignore the Daily Mail – fatal.
The BBC refused to let ordinary people represent the Yes! campaign on TV. I’m not sure whether their policy was changeable but putting LibDems/badly-briefed non-LibDems on clearly hurt us a lot.

From what I’ve seen of polls we got perhaps one message across: Luvvies support AV.

We tried to get across MPs would work harder and AV would reduce expenses-type scandals. This wasn’t believed by the public. Why? Because they were barely-believable unsupported messages that weren’t stated by anyone credible.
Secondly, the 80% core voters are hardly likely to go for the “make your MP work harder” message.

We didn’t even get across the point in the name of the campaign, that AV is fairer. And I think that the name ultimately worked against us, itself sounding like a LibDem campaign – a point I made back in October.

We didn’t get across that FPTP is bad or broken.
We didn’t get across that experts unanimously reject FPTP and quite like AV.
We didn’t get across that the NO campaign is funded by tax-avoiding Tory donors and hedge fund bankers.
We didn’t get across that 90+% of Labour MPs supporting NO fiddled their expenses.

Given that ~80% of voters would be core voters, we needed to reach them, probably in a partisan way. We needed to channel resources into Labour Yes. It would have been very very helpful to split the Tories and I stated this should have been a primary goal early on. Farage was complaining about the Yes campaign being uninterested in UKIP on referendum night.

I think the BBC let the country and license fee payers down in a big way. It’s in their charter to educate the public on issues like this. But I also think the Yes campaign should share that responsibility and have been briefing key journalists so that they didn’t simply repeat NO lies.

I want to talk about other key mistakes of the campaign:

– Around October/November, we had the perfect opportunity to get the country using AV and in fact, proving it was a superior system. I wrote to our National Events co-ordinator about doing a national AV poll on the last 4 contestants in X-Factor. She agreed it was a great idea and had already starting working on it. Someone vetoed that idea.
I was quite tempted to resign at that point but I thought that we’d do one later.
Since we didn’t, the NO campaign’s 2nd ‘strongest’ argument was that AV was complicated (first being Kick Clegg).

– Slightly before then, a team consisting of 2 Londoners and a competent Bristolian offered to do the campaign’s IT for free. Instead, Blue State Digital was paid an allegedly obscene amount of money. As somebody who did Comp Sci and read about countless IT failures, I’ve never seen anything quite as incompetent as BSD. It’s hard to estimate how much more effective our campaigning could have been with a decent IT system. Some examples:

1. When phonebanking, we couldn’t try to persuade people to vote Yes because we didn’t actually know which list they’d signed up to. And regardless of the outcome, we had no way to utilise the data.

2. Bristol sent out tens of thousands of posters with around 1% going up. When I asked who we could chase up to put up their leaflet, we had no data on that. Had lots of posters been visible in most cities in the country, it would have made a huge difference.

In the last few weeks, the polls showed we needed to change tactics but we didn’t. We put out a broadcast (albeit our best) to appease complaints of campaigners rather than talk to voters. However, it would only have made a difference if the campaign wasn’t already lost by that point.

tl;dr We sent weak messages to a small percentage of the electorate, and generaly the ones who wouldn’t actually vote.

Andy, thanks for speaking out clearly about what was going on behind the scenes while many of us on the ground in our local areas have fought hard to get the message for electoral reform across.
Like David Gould I travelled to London (from Devon) last Summer, driven by a compulsion to do something about our failing electoral system and felt empowered by Andy and others who were already involved to get actively involved in campaigning – something I had never done before. The group we went on to found in Devon was made up mostly of ordinary people like myself who had no experience of Political campaigning but a very real passion to make things happen and get the message across that reform is needed. We did our very best but sadly I think it is fair to say that we all felt badly let down by the lack of well thought out information to pass on to people – there is clearly a limit to how many people a few individuals can talk to. We had brilliant support at regional level and from a few identifiable people nationally. We passed messages up the line about what we needed to campaign more effectively, about the ineffectiveness of those key messages, about the desperate need for an informative leaflet rather than a bunch of weak sound-bites. What a shame that those at the very top level, for whatever reason, seem to have chosen to take no notice whatsoever of the feed back from those of us who could really see what was happening at ground level across the country.
Thanks Andy, for your inspiration, your support and your honesty – we needed more people like you and less of those £500 per day gravy-train people.

63. Susan Francis

I’m shocked at the wastage of money referred to in this post. Failing to get a leaflet through every front door in the land, when you have the opportunity of using Freepost, is ridiculous!

The thing that irritated me during the campaign itself, though, was the communication with contacts about phone-banking. The only practical things I did for the campaign were a post on my social network and participating in a banner-raising event. When I first got an email asking me to do phone-banking, I replied asking if there was anything else I could do, but all I got was a series of emails, presumably sent to everyone whose email address they’d collected, urging me to go phone-banking.

I often have difficulty using the phone when I *want* to. I’m certainly not going to attempt large numbers of phone calls. I asked whether there would be anything useful I could do at a phone banking session without using the phone myself – no response.

Sure, people who have problems with their voice – or with their hearing, or with talking to strangers, or with getting to the location in question – may not be a large proportion of your potential volunteers, but you’ll never know if you refuse to talk to them.

Even more: phone banking? Cold calling people? Seriously? My voice is a rare problem, but I doubt that “Who are you, so I can make sure I never buy anything from your company and tell all my friends to boycott them too” is such a rare response to cold calling (if it’s even legal). You should never call anyone who hasn’t said “You can phone me to talk about this” – it’s unethical, and *makes you enemies*.

I’d just like to say that Andy’s post chimes very much with the impression that I got as an activist. The most frustrating thing is that we could see where things were going wrong but no one from the central campaign would listen to us.

65. markrlowe

Don’t be so hard on yourselves. The problem was a poor policy, not poor communication. The more people learned about AV, the less they liked it. There was nothing you could have done about that. Here’s a useful contribution http://bit.ly/lMQtEu

66. David Gould

Au contraire, markrlowe.

The more people knew about AV, the more they preferred it. Indeed of the people who know most about voting systems, 21 out of 22 preferred AV, with zero of 22 approving of FPTP.
http://www2.lse.ac.uk/CPNSS/projects/VPP/Home.aspx

Certainly when confronted with a dry verbal explanation of AV for the first time, poll numbers dropped by a good 10%. But that is a limitation of the medium as well as the explanation.

Indeed, it’s possible to prove that every time AV returned a different candidate than FPTP, that candidate was preferred by the electorate.

I was undecided on AV until I received mailshots with multi-millionaire comedians telling me how to think. That was the first crack.

Then there were people telling me that I should vote for AV so a ‘progressive majority’ will always be in power. I had previously been under the impression that AV was supposed to be fair and FPTP not. Crack number two.

Many of you appear genuinely alturistic but a substantial majority look down on blimps like me. So I believe I made the right choice.

I guessed there were problems early on when I tried to donate money on two occasions, emailed to explain the website wouldn’t allow donations from those living abroad, and simply had my emails ignored.
I was horrified at the waste of money on a poster campaign about the largely irrelevant BNP. Not a central issue, and just reacting to one of the ‘No’ campaign’s sillier assertions.
The really powerful and professional aspects of the campaign only arrived at the tail end when it was too late, such as Dan Snow’s excellent videos. Much more of this kind of informed campaigning from early on would have got many more opinion leaders on board.
Nobody ever said in the campaign, unless I missed it, that FPTP returns parties to power who have fewer votes nationally than the ‘losing’ party. This happened in 1951 and 1974 and could easily happen again. A killer fact, but never used.
Next time, and there MUST be a next time, it must be PR that is on the agenda. The ‘miserable little compromise’ statement was always going to resound with many.

69. Richard P

@68 “Nobody ever said in the campaign, unless I missed it, that FPTP returns parties to power who have fewer votes nationally than the ‘losing’ party. This happened in 1951 and 1974 and could easily happen again. A killer fact, but never used.”

Sorry but this isn’t a killer fact – the simple reason being that AV is perfectly capable of doing the same thing. Imagine a parliament with ten constituencies, and Party X wins 55% of the vote in six of the constituencies, while Party Y wins 90% of the vote in the other four. Party X has won a majority of parliamentary seats on a minority of the vote.

I’m not even clear whether it’s less likely to happen under AV than FPTP. I think it’s happened in Australia at least once.

70. Radicalibral

Recriminations and blood letting are very important after such a heavy defeat for the Yes Campaign. The question we should now al be addressing is where next for Electoral Reform. I have a suggestion.

May 5th 2011 could become a landmark date for radicals, and reformists for all the wrong reasons. The decimation of the Lib Dems, and the No vote in the AV referendum has set back the progress that has been made thus far by progressives. Not even the Greens benefited from the vacuum that was left by the Lib Dem demise. Instead it was yet another victory for the forces of dogmatic protestant conservatism which has permeated our political system since 1979.

The lost opportunity for voting reform has meant that the Lib Dems cannot put forward any further options on this subject for the lifetime of the Coalition. Clearly even supporters of the Yes Campaign within the Labour Party such as Jack Straw have now no appetite for further discussion on this subject. If voting reform especially through the advocates of PR is now going to be taken forward it has to form part of the agenda of political parties, or even one party’s manifesto which would not necessarily require recourse to another referendum to take it forward. So how can this be done?

I believe the only way forward may be the creation of a new political party alliance or even a new political party to progress the issue. A rainbow coalition of progressives coming together whos sole campaigning issue will be to introduce PR. Once this alliance gets elected there should be an immediate General Election under the preferred new PR system.

Irronically, exactly 30 years ago the famous LimeHouse Declaration set up a new political party called the SDP. This laid the foundation for the creation of new political parties, and the realigning of old ones. It was this event that brought about the pressures we have today of an existing First Past the Post Electoral system trying to support a multi party political system.

I believe it is time for the equivalent of a new Limehouse Declaration to set the wheels in motion “now” to start what may be a long road ahead campaigning for the introduction of PR into Westminster, and Local Council Elections in England. I am very keen to know what the strength of interest there is in this idea. I would be grateful if people would contact me either on email radicalibral@hotmail.co.uk, or on Twitter @radicalibral

@70. Radicalibral

That’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think that a new party would be the way forward; single issue parties struggle at the best of times and electoral reform is hardly an issue that excites the masses.

Before anything else, we need to know what we are campaigning for. ‘PR’ is a very broad term that encompasses many different systems some of which aren’t even proper PR (I am looking at you STV!).

We need the existing parties to start talking and agreeing on a system that they will all promote. Perhaps Take Back Parliament could organise a meeting of senior party officials from the Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP and English Democrats, and reformers from the big two just to discuss the possibility of a unified policy.

They worked together for the YES campaign and it was great to see; let’s have more of it.

@71

I disagree about promoting a single system. Getting to the bottom of the detail on AV took long enough – it effectively allows open primaries, recall on demand and other stuff which no one else had picked up on… (

To get to the bottom of every form of PR to select one would take a huge amount of time and energy and probably still not resolve the issue.

Promote electoral reform, but let the *people* choose what form it should take.

I’d go for AV+ or use weighted voting in divisions – which Jenkins ruled out ‘out of hand’ (idiot), and with electronic voting would be trivial to implement (and still fully transparent).

66/David Gould: Indeed, it’s possible to prove that every time AV returned a different candidate than FPTP, that candidate was preferred by the electorate.

Your proof is flawed, then. Consider the following set of (not unrealistic) preferences:

3 voters A B C D E
10 voters B C A D E
6 voters C B D A E
5 voters C D B E A
10 voters D C E B A
2 voters E D C B A

If every voter votes honestly according to their preferences, with no tactical voting, then C will be the FPTP winner, with 11 votes and no-one else on more than 10.

Under AV, E will be eliminated, then A, giving at the start of the third round 13 votes to B, 12 to D, and 11 to C. C will then be eliminated, and B will be elected on round 4 of the count.

But C is preferred to B by 23 voters, and B is only preferred to C by 13 voters. Indeed, C is preferred by a majority of voters to every other candidate.

(It is true if the FPTP winner makes it to the final round of the count, but that’s not guaranteed)

One of the big problems I found with arguing for AV is that there are actually really few “neat properties” like this which don’t have fairly easy counterexamples.

71/Anthony Butcher: It’s not my favourite PR system (that would be Open List), but I think it’s unfair to describe STV as “not proper PR”. STV meets the property that – assuming sufficient places available to avoid rounding errors, and sufficient candidates standing – every co-ordinated faction of size X% of the electorate can get their chosen candidates elected to X% of the places even if everyone else votes “against” them, which seems to be the definition of PR to me.

Why don’t you think it’s proper PR?

74. Richard P

cim,

There are various ways of doing open lists, so I think we’ll need to be more specific.

1) Do the voters select their preferred candidates from the list by FPTP or by STV? If by STV, how do we explain to them that they’re not allowed to mix and match candidates from different lists? And if they are, it’s much the same as STV.

2) Are the voters forced to vote for candidates or can they vote for the party list without expressing a preference? If they are forced, why force them when most people are unlikely to have a strong view? If they are not forced, how do you deal with the problem that the minority who choose to vote for candidates are determining the order of the list, and that minority may not be representative? Should people who voted for a list without preferencing a candidate be taken to have voted for the candidates in the party’s preferred order, or in the order of the minority who expressed a preference?

There are a couple of advantages of STV over lists, but the main one seems to be that most list systems involve a potentially large proportion of wasted votes. Any party receiving less than 4 or 5% of the vote (depending on the particular threshold in use) gets its voted discounted, and no second preference party can be specified by the voter. Yet abolishing the thresholds entirely (another possibility) will encourage fragmentation and besides, there is always a de facto threshold because the number of seats cannot equal the number of voters.

@ Paul
We went in to the referendum in exactly that state and look where it left us. The reform movement looks like a cluster****. We have people campaigning for all kinds of different systems and it looks very confusing for people who are interested, let alone the general public.

We can’t go into the next referendum with the public still not thinking that there is a need for reform or what the solution is. We should have won the debate before the campaigning ever starts.

@ David
While I understand your point about the theoretical proportionality of STV, the reality is very different. The problem with STV is that the constituencies are going to be relatively small, somewhere between three and five candidates. Even at that level we are talking about 350,000 voters per constituency, which is huge. How does anyone actually campaign in an area that size?

With just 3 to 5 candidates the bar for getting elected is still *very* high, and the level of proportionality is very small. If we increase the number of seats per constituency to improve the proportionality, we also further reduce the link between voters and their MPs, and increase the complexity of both the voting and counting. For it to approach acceptable levels of proportionality we would need seats of 10-15 MPs I think, which is unworkable.

I refer again to the ERS model of the 2010 General Election where they added in some survey data about how people would have voted under STV. Bear in mind that the ERS favours STV, so this is quite possibly a kinder version.
http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/blog/?p=36

What they concluded was that STV would do nothing for the smaller parties and the Greens could even lose their seat. It would also disproportionately reward the Lib Dems, giving them more MPs than their percentage of first preference support deserved, while penalising the big two.

The problem is that while STV is ‘proportional’ within each multi-member constituency, it is not proportional nationally. There is no direct correlation between the first preference votes and the distribution of MPs in Westminster as there is with other PR systems. For me it is even simpler than that – if UKIP and the Greens don’t get some MPs out of it, then it isn’t PR.

STV+ would resolve that issue, but would result in even larger constituencies.

STV would be trashed by the media too, for removing the constituency link and leaving us with the same situation we have with the EU elections – very few people can name a single one of their MEPs. I don’t think that making MPs less directly linked to the public should be an aim of electoral reform.

And let’s not forget that the public have rejected the simplest form of preferential voting. Offering a more complicated version is asking for another public beating. This equally applies to AV+ which is a system that I do like 🙂

@75. Anthony Butcher

I think you have it round the wrong way *this* referendum was on a single alternative that reformers weren’t really united behind.

You are asking for the next one to work in the same way!

I like single MP consituencies – end of… If people choose otherwise in a referendum so be it, but I wouldn’t campaign for STV or any other multi-member system.

I am sure there are others who would accept the outcome of a referendum, but would not feel compelled to campaign for any system other than their ‘favourite’.

Calling for consensus before anything starts will not put off reform for a generation, it will put it off for ever…

@Paul,
I think that the huge diversity of opinion is exactly why we need a big debate on the future of electoral reform. It may be that there is no such thing as the electoral reform movement and that it is in reality two or three rough groupings campaigning for very different things.

However, I would like us to see if there is enough opinion behind one electoral system to get something coordinated going. If it is split all over the place then we might as well not bother campaigning for ‘reform’ at all, and need to start campaigning to win other reformers over to a unified approach instead.

Perhaps we could begin by getting TBP to run an AV poll on which system people would support? We could make it into a big thing with proponents of each system putting their best arguments in, making an introductory video etc. That might be a fun exercise.

Like you I think that moving away from constituency based MPs is a terrible idea. I would back AV+, AMS, TR or RTU, although I think that we have to abandon AV+ or anything that uses preferential voting following the referendum result.

The only way for electoral reform to be introduced now is as part of a complete overhaul of the constitution – that is, defining tand devolving he powers of the constituent nations (including finally dealing with the West Lothian issue), reforming the upper house, separating powers, disestablishing the church of England and removing the monarch’s de jure constitutional powers.

74/Richard P: Select from within list by FPTP. If the party is internally split enough that there’s significant chances of spoiler effects between internal factions, it probably stands a better chance if it’s externally split too.

I’ve no objection to the “unrepresentative” minority determining list order if there’s just a generic “vote for list” available. After all, they’re the ones with an actual opinion on the matter beyond general party loyalty. Conversely if there’s not one most lists will probably have a couple of high profile candidates who’ll pick up most of the votes for that list, which means the remaining order is still decided by an interested minority.

The problem with STV – as Anthony Butcher says at 75 – is that it gets horribly complicated in large constituencies. But if you keep the constituencies small, then it imposes a de facto huge threshold.

At a 5% threshold, to make the threshold do much at all, you need about 20 seats per constituency already. That’s probably at least 100 candidates – fine for FPTP open list where the question is “pick the best one” most voters can rule out 95 of those 100 without having to think too hard – but if you have to actually give all of them a preference in STV it’s massively impractical to both vote and count.

The ‘wasted votes’ argument is true, yes – though with large enough constituencies it’s relatively limited. I find Asset Voting to be a more practical solution than STV to that problem for large constituencies (lists without enough votes to elect any candidates, or with spare votes after electing some candidates, can give those votes to other lists – presumably in exchange for either some policy concession or a reciprocal arrangement in another constituency) – the idea that politicians might make deals with each other would, however, probably lead to it being rejected in the UK.

80. Roderick Parks

Well said, Andy. I’d been waiting since the grossly unfair election of 1982 for this opportunity and after the heady days of last May’s London demos there never seemed to be much momentum and pretty sterile and untimely email from the centre. For most of the campaign I was frustrated by leaflets that really did not capture my imagination, let alone grab attention from the public. It was little wonder that I struggled to get any of the so-called local supporters out to help. In the end, I delivered over 2500 leaflets in my ward, knowing that no other ward in the borough was being leafleted. Turnout was significantly higher than in most other wards but it resulted in a higher Conservative majority in the borough elections than before. Thus I can only speculate that my days of backbreaking leafleting were actually counter-productive because the message was not sufficiently crisp or seductive to change minds, only enough to bring out the vote, and most of that for ‘No’.

81. Pinkerton

Predictable post-mortem, but of rather academic interest. I’m sure insiders on the No campaign could tell a similar story. In the end you lost because AV was unconvincing non-reform which was not what most of its supporters really wanted that even the most brilliantly run, well financed campaign would have struggled to sell. Electoral reform is never likely to come about as the bastard child of a coalition deal – and especially one where the main advocate is widely seen as having ratted on its promises to get into government.

Andy, thanks so much for writing the report (I read the full one). It certainly seems to reflect the reality of the campaign as experienced from a local (Camden – one area where we won) group perspective. I also very much appreciate you taking the initiative,time and risk to write it.

Just a couple of thoughts for now:
(3) Building up a party-style on-the-ground prescence: You would know how much that was achieved nationally a thousand times better than me, but FYI the situation in Camden was much more nuanced than that. Essentially, we built a really strong alliance with the local lib dem group and to a lesser extent the greens. It was their local knowledge, campaign experience, resources (e.g. office space, technology, ward maps) and, crucially, their manpower that enabled us to win in Camden. For example, it was them that organised leafleting the borough (most wards got two rounds of leaflet drops) and provided nearly 100% of the man power to do it.
This leads me to wonder whether lib dem local parties couldn’t have been more usefully involved around the country, not necessarily instead of yes campaign founded groups as it was useful for us in Camden to have a non-partisan chair (me), but definietly as well as, and working in close co-operation with our teams. The lib dems in Camden all campaigned as ‘yes’ people – i.e. in a non-partisan way – as they understood public sentiment towards them.
The No campaign operated effectively on the ground in Camden – tube stations, street stalls etc. They could set that up very quickly because they used the existing Conservative structure/personel. I appreciate the Lib Dems are structured differently, but still… I mean, it was meant to be something they REALLY wanted.
(4) The polling. It has struck me for a while that the orginal polling/focus groups are responsible for quite a bit of what people of the ground felt didn’t work – e.g. our failure to explain what AV is (in a pub/coffee kind of way). It would be interesting to know how they were done/what questions were asked. However, more than that, the fact I was told many times that they were conducted with ‘swing voters’ suggests someone, somewhere felt there was a ‘core vote’ that the campaign could take for granted. Who were our core voters? PR might have had a core vote, but AV didn’t. As a couple of people have already shown/noted, people who should have been natural supporters of AV didn’t vote for it and that probably has a lot to do with this basic assumption and the decisions that stemmed from it, particularly who received info and what they received.
(5) The evaluation. In the full version of your report, you talk about the need for organisations like Unlock Democracy and the ERS to develop better relations, work together more closely and stop trying to gain sole control of local groups for their own advantage (I may have exagerrated that final point slightly). Why then can’t they (and TBP) work together on setting up ONE, full, thorough and properly (but modestly) resourced evaluation of the campaign, led by experienced evaluation/research professional(s) (no, I don’t mean me). If you all carry out separate evaluations then reponses from people involved/knowledgeable commentators will be split between 3 separate reports and each report will be poorer for that. Also, please please tell me the same mistakes aren’t being repeated and that professaional, very experienced researcher(s)/evaluator(s) are being employed to design and do the evaluation? Ditto, please tell me someone very experienced has written a proper and carefully considered evaluation strategy and that noone ist collecting info without one?

83. Radicalibral

@71 not true. Look at the voters of Wyre Forest. They managed to get an MP ,and Local Councillors elected on a single issue.However I have another suggestion. For those of us who belong to different political parties who believe passionately in the cause of Electoral Reform let us not all fall out over acrimonious debate about who did, or didn’t do what. If we do that then we let the conservative forces in society win to the detriment of “all progressives” and the 2 party system is back on the agenda. We have made too much progress to let that happen again.
I think for future campaigns we must recognise the strength of opposition to this, and how well organised it is. We must also recognise with the benefit of hindsight the date of the Referendum was wrong though originally chosen for all the right reasons at the time. Also we must recognise that the Lib Dems took a lions share of the publicity for this campaign, which should not have happened, and the ant lobby were able to manipulate the media to make it a personal campaign about Nick Clegg which it should never have been.
So the way forward and I am sorry but what I am about to say Lib Dems will not like but this is I think the only way forward, and where we go next. The anti forces feel at the moment they are safe as houses because they feel they cannot be challenged. As far as the Lib Dems are concerned that is certainly true for the lifetime of this parliament. However we will have parliamentary By Elections coming up. So I propose and I say this as a former Lib Dem, the Lib Dems should stand down their candidate for these elections. This means the Tories, and Labour will have to stand alone in the full glare of publicity as to their respective merits. Progressive forces should stand behind 1 progressive candidate. It could be an Independant, or even another political party’s candidate. The provis is they must support explicity support Electoral Reform and that is main reason they are standing in the By Election.
I will leave the debat to decide whether that Electoral Reform change should now be PR. Logic says it should be. This will clearly keep the issue of Electoral Reform on the political agenda whethhr forces of conservatism like it or not. Gues what they won’t.

84. Dave Thawley

Thanks for the honesty Andy. The campaign was painful throughout – so much so that in the end the couple of people who formed the staffs group decided to do what we could ourselves and cut ourselves off from the organisation. I’ve never known anything like this in my life. When I started with the ERS I was promised loads of training and support. I missed my offical one hour training slot (loads of training ?? 1 Hr ????) and the support turned our to be ‘anti support’ – instead of anything helpful what materialised just wound us up or frustrated us. Piss up and brewery seem to be the words that spring to mind 🙂

I totally agree, my ex-organisation – the ERS (No way am I giving these any more of my money until they can look introspectively and change rather than come out with drivel) really need to have a good look at themselves. Pissed off is too milder description for the utter betrayal I am feeling right now. That is betrayal of the people, like me (and more for people like you) who devoted a lot of time and money to this, but also betrayal of their membership who trusted them with such an important topic and which they appeared to treat with complete indifference. The only word that jumps into my mind when I think about them is ‘tossers’. Anyway good luck for the future mate. I hope your letter does what is needed and gets some change taking place, it really is needed,.

See you next time round:-)
Dave

85. Anthony Dunn

I would hope that those responsible for the utter incompetence that was the “Yes” campaign would now have the basic honesty and integrity to stand up, admit their responsibility and apologise unreservedly for their performance. But I doubt that this will happen. In the meantime, I would hope that they will stay a million miles away from any kind of political campaigning that I am ever involved in.

Rule No.1 of campaigning: determine the agenda on which the public will make their decision and then pummel the opposition into submission. Clearly, Matthew Elliott was way more successful in doing that to us – it wasn’t necessarily that the No campaign had more cash, they just knew what messages would work and bashed away relentlessly. The stupefying naivety of those directing the Yes campaign in failing to determine a clear, effective and hard-hitting message from the outset – rather than the utterly limp-wristed dross that they produced – cost the Yes campaign dearly.

I find it interesting to see how some of these comments mirror the campaign.

As I’ve said elsewhere I consider that the Yes side campaigned rationally and positively; the No emotionally and negatively. When the target has no prior or vested interest the emotional or negative arguments tend to win; this was the double whammy.

When the Yes ‘adverts’ appeared on television I was quite disappointed. They were hectoring. Although such was supposed to be aimed at the on-screen MPs it also came across as being aimed at the audience.

For me pick a ward where the winner scraped in; hire a 100 strong group from that area in the same proportions to the vote; stick them in a hall and ask “Hands up all those who voted for your MP.” then “Hands up all those who voted against your MP” with the backdrop of a sea of hands turn to camera “That’s First Past the Post in action. Your MP is supposed to represent the majority not the minority. Vote Yes to AV”

87. Activist27

I think what the politicians should focus on primarily is how to
get people of all backgrounds more involved. The turnout during the AV
referendum and Council election was not great and that tells us something about
the people’s indifferent attitude about the fight of the parties which needs to
be changed in order for the politicians to stay accountable. For an interesting
perspective on this:
http://wordplayblog.co.uk/2011/05/yes-i-can/


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  2. Sasha

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  3. Anthony Painter

    The Yes campaign managed to spend over £1 per contact on their phonebank. Astonishing. http://bit.ly/knt2Gw

  4. Matthew Taylor

    HOW??? RT@anthonypainter: The Yes campaign managed to spend over £1 per contact on their phonebank. Astonishing. http://t.co/Z3L9TIs

  5. sunny hundal

    Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  6. Ian Dunt

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  7. P. S. Wong

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://bit.ly/kk8gue

  8. Stephen Glenn

    Andy May tells honestly what happened to the Yes! campaign http://bit.ly/knt2Gw #Yes2AV

  9. Political Scrapbook

    Fascinating insight into what went wrong on #Yes2AV from inside the campaign http://bit.ly/iMjrVS

  10. Luke

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/VnYZ0Dv via @libcon

  11. Luke

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/VnYZ0Dv via @libcon

  12. Luke

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/VnYZ0Dv via @libcon

  13. Luke

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/VnYZ0Dv via @libcon

  14. Luke

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/VnYZ0Dv via @libcon

  15. Paul Perrin

    RT @stephenpglenn: Andy May tells honestly what happened to the Yes! campaign http://bit.ly/knt2Gw #Yes2AV

  16. Paul Perrin

    RT @stephenpglenn: Andy May tells honestly what happened to the Yes! campaign http://bit.ly/knt2Gw #Yes2AV

  17. Paul Perrin

    RT @stephenpglenn: Andy May tells honestly what happened to the Yes! campaign http://bit.ly/knt2Gw #Yes2AV

  18. Paul Perrin

    RT @stephenpglenn: Andy May tells honestly what happened to the Yes! campaign http://bit.ly/knt2Gw #Yes2AV

  19. Paul Perrin

    RT @stephenpglenn: Andy May tells honestly what happened to the Yes! campaign http://bit.ly/knt2Gw #Yes2AV

  20. Sabrina

    What a hot mess! RT @psbook: Fascinating insight into what went wrong on #Yes2AV from inside the campaign http://bit.ly/iMjrVS

  21. Sabrina

    What a hot mess! RT @psbook: Fascinating insight into what went wrong on #Yes2AV from inside the campaign http://bit.ly/iMjrVS

  22. Sabrina

    What a hot mess! RT @psbook: Fascinating insight into what went wrong on #Yes2AV from inside the campaign http://bit.ly/iMjrVS

  23. Sabrina

    What a hot mess! RT @psbook: Fascinating insight into what went wrong on #Yes2AV from inside the campaign http://bit.ly/iMjrVS

  24. Sabrina

    What a hot mess! RT @psbook: Fascinating insight into what went wrong on #Yes2AV from inside the campaign http://bit.ly/iMjrVS

  25. Matt Cliff

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  26. Matt Cliff

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  27. Matt Cliff

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  28. Matt Cliff

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  29. Matt Cliff

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  30. Varinder Singh

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  31. Varinder Singh

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  32. Varinder Singh

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  33. Varinder Singh

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  34. Varinder Singh

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  35. Kevin Ward

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/g9ddIUQ via @libcon <<< Compelling read

  36. Jack Ashton

    http://t.co/d8rslNb How AV was lost by Andy May manager of regional staff via @libcon

  37. M Carchrie Campbell

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/GkMxjIQ via @libcon

  38. Ben Cadwallader

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/FWe2unn via @libcon

  39. Paul Wood

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  40. Justin McKeating

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  41. Susan Simmonds

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  42. robertsharp59

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  43. Martin

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  44. drgs100

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  45. S Smethurst-McIntyre

    @peterbotting The inside the yes campaign? Long version here – http://scr.bi/jt19nO, short version – http://bit.ly/knt2Gw

  46. anotherwhitemug.com

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes … – Every proactive idea came too late, … http://is.gd/1JKq1I

  47. Oliver Conner

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  48. Emily Lowther

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  49. Andrew Ducker

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/kdrlWC

  50. Syed Choudhury

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  51. GuyAitchison

    My friend Andy May, a member of staff for the Yes campain, exposes its incompetence & cronyism in this report http://bit.ly/knt2Gw

  52. GuyAitchison

    My friend Andy May, a member of staff for the Yes campain, exposes its incompetence & cronyism in this report http://bit.ly/knt2Gw

  53. Ed Simpson

    @stephenpglenn Is this fair comment on the Yes Campaign? http://bit.ly/knt2Gw

  54. Bob Johns

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  55. Kevin Davidson

    RT @andrewducker: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/kdrlWC

  56. Joachim

    RT @andrewducker: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/kdrlWC

  57. Rob Schmitt

    RT @andrewducker: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/kdrlWC

  58. Ani StaffordTownsend

    RT @sunny_hundal: Damning exposé: "Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  59. Becky Luff

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  60. Mark Hibbett

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  61. Becky Luff

    A fair and accurate reflection of the Yes campaign that impressively avoids the tempting descent into mudslinging http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  62. Tim Holmes

    Many "escalating complaints from activists & regional & central staff" on the Yes2av campaign "were repeatedly ignored" http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  63. Sean Davey

    RT @libcon: Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  64. Chris Carrigan

    When you read how inept central Yes2AV was you realize what an amazing job the team in Oxford did to win – http://t.co/lH63GxF via @libcon

  65. modernity blog

    RT @anthonypainter: The Yes campaign managed to spend over £1 per contact on their phonebank. Astonishing. http://bit.ly/knt2Gw

  66. Duncan Stott

    Revealed: how the #Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sMlVZtc via @libcon. Depressing reading.

  67. John Nor

    RT @DuncanStott: Revealed: how the #Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sMlVZtc via @libcon …

  68. Mark Bowyer

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4s3exkL via @libcon

  69. Ben Cadwallader

    RT @DuncanStott: Revealed: how the #Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sMlVZtc via @libcon …

  70. Asha Kaur

    Revealed: How the #Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes > http://bit.ly/lT8wOK

  71. The Daily Quail

    Interesting/tragic: the mundane but catastrophic flaws in the #Yes2AV campaign – comms, fundraising, management. http://bit.ly/jy4zp6

  72. Ben McGilvray

    RT @ashakaur: Revealed: How the #Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes > http://bit.ly/lT8wOK

  73. peterbotting

    harsh comment on good Andy May #YES2AV article: …win them a lot of retweets but not many votes. http://bit.ly/lT8wOK

  74. Rachel Graye

    Most in-depth post-piece I've found on the AV campaign, still not sure what to make of it all http://bit.ly/lT8wOK

  75. What You Can Get Away With (Nick Barlow's blog) » Blog Archive » Worth reading 40: Links begin

    […] Revealed: How the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes – These exposés of what happened within the Yes campaign may not make pleasant reading, but they’re essential to avoiding mistakes like this being made in the future. Bookmark/subscribeSubscribeDiggdel.icio.usFacebookRedditStumbleUponTechnorati May 13th, 2011 in Links […]

  76. sunny hundal

    If you missed our damning exposé of why the Yes2AV campaign was such a car-crash behind the scenes from this morning: http://bit.ly/lgw3Bk

  77. Louisa Loveluck

    Where did the #Yes2AV campaign go wrong? Devastating list of its failures over at @libcon: http://t.co/XHW2JsY

  78. Qamar Riaz

    RT @leloveluck: Where did the #Yes2AV campaign go wrong? Devastating list of its failures over at @libcon: http://t.co/XHW2JsY

  79. Ban T-shirts UK

    RT @leloveluck: Where did the #Yes2AV campaign go wrong? Devastating list of its failures over at @libcon: http://t.co/XHW2JsY

  80. Cordy Freeman

    Breakdown of why Yes2AV campaign failed so miserably. Didn't help that the general public is ignorant and apathetic http://bit.ly/lT8wOK

  81. Simon Francis

    Excellent insider insight into what went wrong for Yes2AV http://j.mp/knt2Gw, backs up much of what I wrote http://j.mp/lFTrAW

  82. Patrick Hadfield

    RT @si_francis: Excellent insider insight into what went wrong for Yes2AV http://j.mp/knt2Gw, backs up much of what I wrote http://j.mp/

  83. 24 hours: A long time in political PR « Ramblings Of A PR

    […] Update 13.05.11: For an insider’s take on what went wrong, check out Andy May’s excellent post on Liberal Conspiracy. […]

  84. Stephen Ball

    How the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://bit.ly/mOqpco

  85. CoSERG web manager

    Revealed: how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/1DuAmXA via @libcon

  86. David Allen

    Interesting post on the behind the scenes probs in the #yes2av campaign: http://bit.ly/jo9oCy

  87. Pascal Jacquemain

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/13/revealed-how-the-yes2av-campaign-malfunctioned-behind-the-scenes/

  88. We need an audit into why the Yes2AV campaign performed so badly | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] argument also draws on the report published on Liberal Conspiracy by Andy May. I think the JRRT should draw some lessons from the debacle, given it spent and arguably wasted […]

  89. Willetts u-turns on paying for university places, the Lib Dems are still unhappy, and the coalition turns one: round up of political blogs for 7 May – 13 May | British Politics and Policy at LSE

    […] campaign failed, and Andy May guest blogging at Liberal Conspiracy reveals how the Yes2AV campaign malfunctioned behind the scenes in a highly interesting and cutting blog […]





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