Why we campaign

Ever wondered why the Labour Party puts such an emphasis on campaigning and community activism?

The Labour Party is, and always will be, a party for equality, social justice and compassion.These shared values steer us on everything, from how we create policy to how we run our campaigns.

And these are the values we want to share and put into action in every community. Speaking with voters is the best way to get a feel of what people care about, and what they want to see from us. That’s where you come in!

Every time you have a chat on a doorstep, make a call with Dialogue, or pop a leaflet through a letterbox, you’re representing the Labour Party, and showing that we care about every community, and every voter.

By speaking with people, we can make sure that that their concerns are passed on to the local and national party. That means that sometimes we can act immediately – helping resolve someone’s issues with bin services, joining or starting a campaign to save a local bus route, or ensuring that wider concerns make it to the top of the agenda in Labour’s policy making processes and at Annual Conference.

And it’s by building those relationships and trust within communities all year round that we really make a difference when it comes to polling day. And in seats where as little as a few hundred votes could decide the outcome, your chat with Karen from down the road could be more important than you think!

So take the plunge; find out where your next event is or get in touch with your Local Contact.

What is door knocking?

Door knocking – which is also often referred to as campaigning or canvassing – is talking with people about the issues that matter to them. Every day, teams of Labour members and volunteers are out representing our party, listening to people, and sharing our position on important issues. This means that when it comes to elections, we know what really matters to people, and people know where Labour stand and why they should vote for us.

Tips for door knocking

  1. Dont be afraid. People do expect us to knock on their door and most people are friendly
  2. Ease yourself in gently. The first few times you'll be paired up with an experienced caanvasser., who'lll show you the ropes and answer any questions
  3. Bring a friend with you. You'll always be in a team of people, but bringing another person along makes it even more fun
  4. You don't need to be a policy expert. You're unlikely to get asked anything too hard, but if you do, make a note of it and someone willl get back to them
  5. This is just the beginning. Just one conversation won't win everyone's vote, but you're starting their relationship with Labour that someone else can continue

What to expect

You’ll be out in a group – we never expect people to go out alone! There’ll be a meeting before you begin and if it’s your first time you’ll shadow an experienced campaigner until you feel more confident.

Typically conversations are quite short – they can be as simple as “Hi Mrs Smith, can I ask if you plan on voting for Labour at the next election?”. The key thing is to introduce yourself with a smile and record what people said so that we can answer peoples questions and address their concerns.

Some people will want to have a longer chat – especially if they haven’t decided who they’re voting for. Remember that you don’t need to be a policy expert and don’t worry if you don’t win over every undecided voter! The important thing is that you’ve started a conversation that someone else will be able to continue.

Also – it’s fun! Door knocking is a great way to meet your fellow members, and sessions are often followed by a trip to a cafe or pub. Many a friendship has blossomed over a confusing cul-de-sac or a post-canvassing coffee.

Why we canvass

Elections are won between polling days, because talking with voters all year-round builds relationships and makes people more likely to vote for us. It also tells us what people’s priorities are, so that when we write pledges, run campaigns and share leaflets, we’re speaking to people about the issues they care about.

And crucially, canvassing means we know which voters definitely support us so that on polling day we can ‘get out the vote’ effectively (GOTV). In marginal elections, where as little as a few hundred votes could decide the outcome, this can make all the difference.

Campaign Jargon

What does it all mean?

You’ll hear the terms Voter ID and canvassing, often used interchangeably, though they actually mean slightly different things:

Canvassing can refer to asking people for support at election time, but it’s also used to refer to the issues-based campaigning done throughout the year, not just at election time. We talk to people all year round so when it comes to election time, we know what matters to them, and they know why they should vote for us.

Voter ID refers to the process of gathering people’s voting intentions, whether face to face or over the phone. It’s simply asking people who they intend to vote for.

Door knocking is an incredibly effective form of canvassing. It’s when a small team of volunteers will knock on people’s doors and have a conversation face to face.

Phone banking is all about talking to electors over the phone, usually carried out by a group of volunteers and usually sticking closely to a Voter ID script.

GOTV means ‘Get out the Vote’, and it is exactly that! We get in touch with all of our ‘Labour promises’ to remind them that it’s polling day, and to make their vote count by voting Labour.

The tools we use:

Rounds. A round is a set of streets you’ll be covering in your door knocking session. One round usually takes about an hour between four people, so not too strenuous!

The Board is our log of who we want to talk to, and where we record what they say. It shows the people we want to talk to, and exactly who we expect to be in each house.

The Board Runner/Running the Board refers to the person who will tell you which house to go to. They will give you some more information about each individual, such as their previous voting intentions, or whether they have a postal vote. You’ll report back to the board runner when you’ve spoken to the person.

Calling cards, or outcards are the leaflets we post when someone isn’t in, just to let them know their local Labour Party called round and tried to speak to them!

Volunteering FAQ

Keen to volunteer with Labour, but you’ve got a few questions first? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about campaigning with Labour.

I’m a bit nervous – what can I expect on my first campaign session?

First of all, we can promise you’ll get a warm welcome from your local party – you’ll be teamed up with an experienced campaigner to start off with and they’ll be able to show you the ropes and answer any questions you might have. People do expect us to knock on their doors – especially at election time, and most people are friendly and interested.

It’s a great way to meet fellow members and supporters too, and sessions are often followed by a trip to a café or pub.

I’ve signed up to volunteer – what happens next?

There are so many ways you can help, from door knocking to helping in a campaign office. If you’ve already signed up for a campaign session, fantastic – just head along.

If you gave us your phone number, we’ll be giving you a call very soon to check in. If you haven’t already, and you want to find out what’s going on near you, you can also find your nearest campaign event.

What is door knocking and why is it so important?

Door knocking is about having conversations with voters face to face. It helps us understand what people care about, allows us to talk about how a vote for Labour can make a difference locally and nationally, and crucially, helps us find out which voters are planning to vote Labour on election day.

We keep a record of this information, and on polling day, we will visit people again to remind them to vote. Knowing who plans to vote Labour helps us to get an idea of how we are doing, and to plan our resources more effectively.

Are there other ways to help out?

If you’re not sure door knocking is for you, we’d really encourage you to at least give it a go – there’s never been a more important or exciting time to try!

But there are lots of other ways to help out too. Whether you’re super-organised, a great communicator, or know your local area like the back of your hand, there’ll be a task with your name on it! Our campaign teams will need help making sure the phones are answered and emails replied to, delivering leaflets or prepping leaflet rounds, driving on polling day and much more.

How do I find out when and where to help?

Use Labour's handy events finder to see how and where you can help.