If I’m a party member, how might that affect my campaign?

There are two dimensions to this question.

One is technical: there is a set of rules which apply to parties and party members. These are not quite the same as the rules for independent candidates, and you’ll need to learn your way around them. I’ll come to that in a moment.

The other is personal: if you join a party, what are you signing up to? Is it a shared manifesto, a set of policies or principles, or something else which all party members hold in common?

Whatever it is, it is likely to have some effect on what you choose to include in your campaign. Depending on how your party is structured, it may have some rules about what you must say, and perhaps also what you cannot say.

There might be internal rules about vetting manifestos, or providing consistent answers to questions from voters. All that depends on what you agreed to when you signed up to the party.

But if there are more constraints, there might also be more freedom. If, for example, you know that there is going to be a central party manifesto which deals with a number of key issues, perhaps that frees up more space for you to concentrate on the issues that matter most to you, in your own manifesto.

Parties might bring new campaigning opportunities, as well – parties might, for example, organise their own “meet the candidate” events or hustings, which might draw a different crowd of voters to those you would reach on your own. All of this is stuff you need to discuss within your party, so that each of you can decide how best to run your own campaign.

On the technical side, the spending rules are slightly different if you are in a party. Again, the official candidates’ guide is your best reference for this. Essentially, your party has no spending rights unless you, as its members, choose to give it some. You can transfer part of your own spending allowance – this means you will spend less, and the party can spend what you have allocated to it. That’s added together with transfers from other party members to make the party’s total spending limit, which is an absolute maximum of £9,000. You don’t have to transfer actual money to the party, just the right to spend it.

It’s complicated! The candidates’ guide explains it far better than I do. If you and your party officers are unsure about any part of the rules, you can contact the Elections team with queries.

There are specific rules about parties, and how they should be registered, and how they should conduct themselves. Your party officers need to learn their way around those rules; I won’t be unpacking them here. (A party structure is supposed to provide some of the support that independents don’t have, so I’m not going to duplicate its work!)

For individual party members, it’s just worth remembering that any financial support you receive from the party still needs to be consistent with the Election spending rules, and that you are still responsible for recording and submitting your own election expenses, whether or not you are a party member.

Finally, when you submit your nomination form, you will be asked to declare if you are affiliated to a party, and to give the name of a party if so. There is also space on the States manifesto template (see pages 42-46 of the guide) to include a party logo if you want to. So if you’re thinking of joining a party, you’ll want to have made a decision before the nomination period opens!

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When should I start preparing?

Now.

Literally, right now.

I am writing this on August 14th. That means, three weeks from now, the nomination period will have closed. Everyone who wants to stand for election will already have thrown their hat in the ring. There will be a month to go until votes are cast.

What if you haven’t made up your mind yet? Then act ‘as if’ you were standing. It will be far easier to get to the start of September, having done all your preparation, to decide to walk away – than it will be to get to the start of September, decide that actually you do want to stand, and frantically have to do weeks’ worth of work over a couple of sleepless nights.

If you haven’t seen the States in action before, there is still time – we are sitting from 18-21 August and again from 25-28 August, assuming we don’t finish our agenda in the first week. We usually sit from 9.30-12.30 and again from 14.30-17.30 each day of our meeting. You can come and sit in the public gallery of the Royal Court at any time while the States Meeting is going on. (And you can leave at any time too – you don’t have to commit to the whole session!)

It is worth seeing the States in action as a parliament, although that’s only a small fraction of what we do – a lot more happens in Committees, and I will try and shine some light on that in later blog posts.

You will also want to research key issues, and take time to think about your own position on them. You might want to talk to existing States Members to get a more personal insight (you’re always welcome to get in touch with me if you’d like a chat, and I know many of my colleagues would say the same). And you might want to find out more about the Parties that are forming, and decide if you are interested in joining any of them.

And then you’ll want to decide what campaign materials you’d like – will you just use the States manifesto, or will you have a personal one too? What about posters or leaflets? Do you want a website? What social media accounts will you use – if any? Will you be doing video or audio recordings? You need to start thinking about how you will source those materials, and getting the content organised.

There’s a lot to do. As a general rule of thumb, the earlier you can start preparing, the better. I’m the kind of person who needs a deadline, so I’m not terribly good at obeying that rule of thumb – but even I started writing my manifesto in earnest at least a month before nominations opened. The closer the campaign period gets, the harder it will be to do justice to your preparation – so, honestly, there is no time like the present.

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What should I have ready on day one?

This is not a complete checklist, but here are three things I think are essential to have ready on the day you submit your nomination:

  1. Your manifesto
  2. Your completed, signed nomination form
  3. A campaign plan for the month ahead

If your manifesto contains links to a personal website or social media, make sure that those links are up and running. There needs to be enough content on your website to grab people’s interest from day one, even if you’re planning on adding to it throughout the campaign period.

The States is providing a number of “freebies” for election candidates. You can find out more in the official candidates’ guidance. These include a two-page manifesto (as part of a book of manifestos), a 3-minute video, and a dedicated candidate page on the Election website. Make use of these. Voters will use them as a one-stop-shop to find out about candidates – you don’t want to be missing from that.

These have tight production deadlines. Those are also set out in the guidance. Make sure you know what they are. The content for your two-page manifesto will need to be submitted at the same time as your nomination. That’s why you need to have it ready on day one.

(Also, manifestos are really hard to write! Getting everything you want to say out of your head onto paper, in a way that means voters will connect with you, is not easy for anyone. So if you haven’t started doing it yet, get cracking!)

Finally, campaigning under island-wide voting will be really hard. I can’t advise you on it properly, because I’ve never done it before – none of us have, not like this. What I can say is that you’ve got a very short amount of time (four weeks) to reach a very large number of people – maybe 30,000 voters. So, if you want to have a big impact, you need to plan in advance how you’re going to use your time. Budgeting time for the right things is even more important if you’re going to be working full- or part-time during the campaign period.

Over the next few posts, I will look at some of the things you might want to take into consideration if you’re putting together a schedule for the campaign period. Just a couple of tips to get started:

First, don’t schedule it too tightly! Things will come up. But have a sense of what proportion of your time you want to use for answering emails, face-to-face engagement, social media, and so on. Different things will take priority from day to day, but try and keep to your time budget (if you think it’s right) over the course of a week. If it’s not right – adapt it.

And second, make sure you put key dates in your diary as soon as they emerge. There will be a Meet the Candidates event at Beau Sejour on September 20th (it’s in the guidance) – do you want to be there? Get it in your calendar. There will no doubt be hustings and events on various themes, organised by different groups. Decide which ones matter to you, and make it a priority to be there.

Standing for election is a big deal, and there’s no one right way to do it. If you are well-prepared, you will have structure and content to fall back on, which are two very useful things. Candidates who try to wing it at election time always struggle, and island-wide voting will magnify that. But nothing ever goes perfectly to plan, so try not to let it stress you out – take it in your stride, and maybe even enjoy it now and then!

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When do I have to make my decision?

As soon as possible!

You have until 21 August 2020 to register on the electoral roll. If you don’t register, you won’t be eligible to stand.

The timeframe for the Election itself is set out on the Election website. You need to know that nominations open on Tuesday 1 September and close at 4pm (four o’clock in the afternoon, for the avoidance of any doubt!) on Friday 4 September. If you want to be a candidate in the 2020 Election, you need to get your nomination in during that short window.

There are some important things you need to get ready before nominations even open. You need to have a proposer and seconder who are willing to put you forward as a candidate. And you need to have prepared your manifesto – especially the bit that goes in the combined manifesto booklet, because you’ll be asked to provide that straight away. (Keep an eye on the Election website for guidance so that you know what to prepare.)

And then you need to hit the ground running. Election Day is on 7 October. Advance polling will open from 3 October. People who are using postal votes might fill out their votes even earlier than that. So you need to be ready to start getting your message out to people from the start of the campaign period, with plenty of time for them to find out more and make up their mind to support you.

If you’re interested in standing, but haven’t quite made up your mind yet, I would be more than happy to meet up for a coffee and talk it over with you, if you’d like to get in touch. I’m sure other Deputies would be just as happy to do so.

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