How should I organise my time during the campaign period?

That depends on how much time you have got to dedicate to campaigning. A lot of candidates will still be working during the campaign period, and will be trying to juggle family responsibilities as well – it’s a lot!

I think you need a blend of face-to-face contact with voters and virtual campaigning (answering emails, being active on social media, responding to media enquiries – activities which reach a broader audience, but with less of a human connection). If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, then door-knocking is probably not much of a realistic option, but you can still manage face-to-face contact by going along to hustings, or even by standing in a public place with a banner identifying you as a candidate, and talking to people as they pass by.

Be careful with social media – it can really draw you in, and you can find you’re spending a lot of time on there, but only actually talking to a small pool of people. Be reasonably strict with yourself about how much time you’re going to give to social media, and how much time to answering emails and other virtual campaign activities.

Where you don’t have control over the timing of an event (hustings or presentations, for example) do get those in your diary nice and early.

Aside from that, I think it helps to have a plan for how you’re going to spend your time during the week ahead. You probably don’t want to plan much more than a week at a time, because it’s a really intense period and you want to give yourself enough flexibility to respond as things change! A plan isn’t a promise – don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to schedule – but it helps you to think through how much time you want to give to different campaign activities, and to make sure you’re balancing your time sensibly.

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Can I help to solve people’s problems?

If you’re talking to people about the States, a lot of people are going to tell you about public services that don’t work well for them, or about times they feel they have been treated wrongly or failed by the system. Some of these will be desperately difficult problems which are a real issue here and now – and you’ll want to try and do all you can to help fix it.

If you are a first-time candidate, I would just be a little bit cautious about what you promise. People’s lives are complicated, and you may not have the time or the ability to get fully involved in sorting out a problem while you’re on the campaign trail, however much you may want to.

If there is an obvious, immediate need for outside help, then you might want to point the person in the direction of someone who can offer it. The Citizens Advice Bureau is usually a good place to start, or another voluntary organisation more directly related to the person’s needs. It is probably wisest to pass on contact details, and leave it up to the person to choose if they want to get in touch.

If there is an injustice which needs addressing, but it isn’t urgent, you can say to the person: “I don’t think I’ll be able to address this for the next few weeks, but I’d be glad to pick it up with you after the Election, and try to get things sorted for you.” If you say this, make sure you mean it. Give the person a way of getting in touch with you that will work after the Election, whether or not you’re elected; or make yourself a diary note to get back in touch with them again after the Election. If you’re not elected, you might not be in a position to do what you hoped – if that happens, try and connect the person to someone else who might be able to help.

Ultimately, you’ll handle this in the way that feels right for you. I think it might just be useful to know that the campaign period is a conundrum – it’s the time when you’re most likely to find out about people’s problems, but least likely to be able to take any meaningful action to address them – and to have some ways of managing that, so you don’t leave people in the lurch, but you also aren’t making promises you can’t fulfil.  

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What are people going to ask me about?

Everything! Each person you speak to will have their own ideas about what issues are most important for us here in Guernsey, and their own view about how those issues should be addressed.

You don’t have to be an expert on everything, though. If you’ve been in the States before, you’ll be expected to know more than if you’re a first-time candidate. But even returning Deputies get to say “that’s not a topic I’ve had much involvement in, so I would need to do more research”, or “actually, we’re looking into that at the moment, I want to see what the evidence says.”

If you can’t tell people what the solution to a given problem is, then try and tell them how you would go about solving it, or what kind of things you would be looking for in a solution.

And also – don’t forget to listen. People who ask you about a given topic are probably doing so because it’s something they care about. It may well be something they have a professional background in, or have thought about carefully themselves. Don’t be afraid to say: “this is how I think I would approach it – but what would you do?” Take the opportunity to learn from the people you meet, as well as to share your views.

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Will there be hustings?

In previous Elections, hustings have been organised by each Parish. Obviously, that doesn’t work so well under Island-Wide Voting. The traditional hustings format, with all the candidates sat on one stage, doesn’t really work with over a hundred candidates.

But it’s clear there will be alternatives. There are a number of “themed” hustings, which are open to all candidates. These take a kind of ‘speed dating’ format, so you’ll meet a lot of voters face-to-face, but have a fairly short contact time with each one. The best way of getting a sense of how this kind of hustings works is to take a look at the GDA’s video from the last election, here.

In addition, parties are organising hustings for their members, and so are groups of independent candidates. It sounds like these are going to take more of a traditional format, with questions from an audience to a panel of candidates.

If you aren’t involved in any of these hustings yet, there is nothing to stop you from ringing round other candidates and getting one organised – the logistics are time-consuming, so you might want to rope in a few friends – but you’ll need to do it quickly, because diaries are filling up fast.

I have put together a What’s On page, which includes links to the hustings (that I know of) that are open to all candidates.

You’ll see that I’ve also added links to a number of sites offering candidate questionnaires. For voters, these are helpful tools which offer a way of sorting through over a hundred candidates, in the absence of traditional hustings. For candidates, they’re a bit more like hard work! Face-to-face hustings gave me stage fright, but they were over and done in an hour or two. Preparing (good) written answers to questions can be a lot more time-consuming, and it is worth setting aside time in your daily routine to do so.

Some people say that hustings are important because they are “like the States”, and they’re a test of candidates’ ability to think on their feet, and engage with lots of different topics. I agree that hustings are important, but they’re nothing like the States. I value hustings because you see little snippets of a person’s character – I remember one supremely condescending candidate at the first hustings I went to, and someone else who was more generous and kind. Seeing people face-to-face, and in the context of their fellow candidates, tells you something about their nature as well as their policies, and that’s what I will be looking out for in this year’s hustings, too.

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Election Events and Resources

As the Election approaches, a range of events and websites are springing up, designed to help voters get to know candidates better. I’ve been looking for a one-stop-shop list of these resources and events, but haven’t found it yet, so I thought I might as well make it. (If it already exists, please let me know!) On this page, you’ll find information about Hustings and “Meet the Candidate” events, as well as links to websites providing information about candidates.

In order to be included on this list, an event or resource must be independently organised and equally open to all candidates. I will not be adding links to events organised by parties or candidates.

I am adding events and websites as I become aware of them. If I have missed any, please let me know about them.

Calendar of Events

Tue 8 September (evening) – Environment Hustings
Les Cotils
Find out more on Facebook*

Wed 16 September (evening) – Disability Hustings
St Pierre Park
Find out more on Facebook or on the GDA website*

Sun 20 September (daytime) – Official “Meet the Candidates” Event
Beau Sejour
Find out more on Facebook or on the Elections website

Wed 23 September (evening) – Work, Rights & Wellbeing Hustings
Guille Alles Library
Find out more on Facebook


Official Election Website
For: Candidate manifestos, candidate pages, voters’ questions

Electoral Support Group
For: Candidates’ questionnaire

The Guernsey Daily Podcast
For: Election coverage
Link: (and Twitter)

Is It True? Guernsey Factchecker
For: Election campaign fact-checking
Link: (and Facebook and Twitter)

Standing Up for Guernsey’s Environment*
For: Candidate’s questionnaire on environmental issues

Finally, download and customise your own candidate spreadsheet here – thanks to Paul for this super useful tool for voters!

If I have missed an event or resource, or made an error, please let me know and I will set it straight as soon as possible.

(*For the sake of transparency, these are events I’m involved with as a volunteer.)

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How should I reach voters?

This is island-wide voting. There are about 30,000 people on the electoral roll. Every candidate is trying to reach every one of those 30,000 people and trying to make a good enough impression to win their vote.

How do you do it?

In truth, you probably can’t. But here are some things to think about, in terms of making an impact:

You have the opportunity to include a two-page manifesto in the States manifesto booklet. This will be delivered to all households on the electoral roll. I reckon that many voters will use this as their one-stop-shop for finding out about candidates. So:

  • Don’t miss out
  • Make an impression
  • Use it as a springboard

If you want to be in the combined manifesto, you will need to use one of the five templates set out in the candidates’ guide (pages 42-46). Choose which one you want to use now. Think about text and graphics. It’ll be a big book – what are you going to do to catch people’s eye?

You’re going to need to have your manifesto submission ready on the day you put in your nomination, and – trust me – writing a good, short piece is much harder than writing a long piece. So make this a priority for now.

Keener voters will want to find out more about you, so give them the opportunity to do so. Include links to your website and/or social media accounts in that combined manifesto. You won’t fit everything into two pages, but you can use it to stir people’s interest, so that they want to discover more about what you stand for.

Use the other States-provided services, too – the 3-minute video, and the dedicated web page. The content for the web page is much the same as for your short manifesto, so don’t worry about that.

The video is harder – 3 minutes is not a long time. You need to plan what you want to say, so you don’t fumble and lose the chance to communicate. But you don’t want to be reading from a script, either – you’ll come across as wooden and unsure. You’ve got a slightly longer deadline there, according to the candidates’ guide: recording slots will be available on 5-8 September. But that’ll be upon us soon, so don’t leave it to the last minute!

If I were standing, I would take every opportunity available for face-to-face contact with voters. It’ll be different to previous elections – no traditional hustings, little if any door-knocking. But there is a human connection you make when you see someone, which isn’t quite the same as just engaging with their words. So use the opportunities that do exist – go to the “Meet the Candidates” event, take part in any hustings that are set up, and so on.

And if you have the time, I would always say it’s worthwhile to do a bit of door-knocking. As much for what you learn from it, as for the voters. I’ll come to that later. But if you are short on time during the campaign period, then you need to know that door-knocking is a big investment of time for a very small return, so it’s probably the least efficient thing you can do.

I have a sneaking suspicion that, if you’re not seeing many people face-to-face, online videos might be the next best thing. Video-recording is an art (and not one I know very much about, so take my recommendation with a pinch of salt), but I think that at least being able to see you while you speak might help you to make a connection with some voters. You could put these on your website, if you have one, or share them through your social media account.

Another, similar alternative might be to offer a livestream event where voters can listen in and ask you questions. At the very least, you’d probably want to do this with a friend, who could read out questions for you, and screen out the trollish ones. And you’d probably want to have some pre-prepared material – “lots of people are worried about X. Let me tell you my views about X!” – in case the questions run dry.

As you might guess, if I were standing, I would definitely have a website. You need somewhere to put more information about what you stand for, than you can fit in the two-page manifesto. For me, a website is the obvious thing. You can keep it updated throughout the campaign period, and you can have it ready to go live from the very beginning.

An alternative is to write and print your own physical manifesto and post it through people’s doors. It’s an option, but it’s expensive and slow, and I reckon most people will just recycle it. Maybe I’m wrong. But if I were re-standing, I’d have a lot less than £6,000 to spend on my campaign, and I don’t think that would be how I would choose to spend it.

You will probably want to be present on social media, but I would suggest being strict about the amount of time you’re prepared to spend in social media discussions, and be upfront about that. Although social media feels like you’re reaching a broad audience, I have usually found that, in fact, a disproportionate amount of time is spent in discussions with the same small group of people. In terms of efficiency, it may not be all that much better than door-knocking!

Part of the reason why I suggest being strict with yourself about social media is because I think you will have to allocate a fair amount of campaign time to answering questions, and I think that could be a far more effective use of time. You’ll be asked to complete surveys by the media, by various interest groups, by individual constituents. You’ll probably receive significantly more emails than we did, and we received quite a lot. (You might want a dedicated election email address, so you can easily keep track of things, by the way.) I’m guessing this will be the main substitute for what parish door-knocking used to do – that is, let you have conversations with lots of different people about their main areas of interest – so I’d make plenty of time for it in your day.

Of course, these are just my predictions. The reality might be quite different. Within a day or two of submitting your nomination, you’ll already have a better sense of that than I do! Don’t be afraid to adapt your strategy to match your experience. Good luck!

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