lessons from America

America comes to Preston

The Preston Citizen¬†tells its readers of an interesting event this coming Saturday. I don’t think I need to add anything to their report ūüôā

Malcolm Clark, director of Make Votes Count, will be talking at a public meeting in Preston about his recent experiences on the Obama campaign trail.¬† Malcolm Clark who spent the final fortnight of the US election campaigning in the swing states of Colorado, Minnesota and Ohio, will be recounting some of the highs ‚Äď from the Democratic Convention in Denver, to ‚ÄėTrick or Vote‚Äô activities on Halloween, to election night in Chicago ‚Äď and examining some of the aspects that made this election so empowering and exciting from the voters‚Äô perspective.

Malcolm will be looking at lessons that can be learnt for the UK; how we could do elections – and politics ‚Äď differently: from strategy and fundraising, to creative campaigning and involving more people, to making it easier to vote and for those votes to really matter.

And he’ll also be looking ahead to next year’s European elections to see how citizens in the North West can make the most of their vote. This event is hosted by the Lancashire Make Votes Count group, which campaigns locally for democratic reforms and ways of increasing voter engagement in elections.

A meeting of electoral reform activists from across the North West will take place after the main talk. 

The meeting is free and open to all. It starts at 11.30am on Saturday December 6 in Room C of County Hall, Pitt Street, Preston. County Hall is adjacent to Preston railway station. Car parking is also available.


December 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back for seconds

Oh, look.¬† It’s election night again.¬† Brilliant.¬† Cold turkey maybe the norm in the days after Thanksgiving, but there’s no way I can go cold turkey over elections.¬†¬†My¬†resolve for sleep and normal UK hours may be about to weaken.¬† Run-offs may not be the best way of deciding elections where no one gained over 50% of the vote – my preferred method is Instant Run-Off Voting ¬†(aka the Alternative Vote) – but this way the fun for us politicos (if not the voters) gets carried on for another month.¬† And that brings¬†us through to¬†tonight.

Lousiana has a couple of congressional races that will be decided, but the main meal is being served down in Georgia, with a Senate seat up for grabs.  Republican Saxby Chambliss narrowly missed hitting the 50% mark last time around, and a win for him today Рin a straight head-to-head with Jim Martin Рwould mean the Democrats would definitely not get to 60 seats and have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  So important stuff.

538 have again been on the ground, charting the election campaign and giving us a inside account – from the “boiler room“.¬† What I find most fascinating is the way so many Obama organisers, field office workers and others have made the journey to Georgia over the past few weeks (some within days of Obama’s victory) to take part in the campaign.¬† Partly that is because of the significance of the race.¬† But there’s something deeper, more emotional. Something I can empathise with, even these thousands of miles away. As Sean so movingly puts it:

“At the human level, there is almost a wistful, gravitational pull for many of these organizers in returning to a race. To work on the Obama campaign, these folks had to disconnect from their previous lives. Friendships, relationships, and other plans all took a backseat to the single-minded mission to elect Barack Obama. Plugging back into the world, especially when job plans for most of these twenty-somethings are uncertain, is a difficult task. While the pride is evident, conversations with many of these organizers reveals a strange sense of feeling lost, untethered from an all-consuming routine. So when organizers hear other organizers are coming to Georgia, it’s a form of therapeutic reunion for many, much like a reunion of military veterans. Unless you’ve been through it, it’s hard to explain.”

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment