At the heart of the campaign is a pledge collection system on CfD's website. People who live in marginals can go to the website, type in their postcode and a page comes up where they can pledge on line. They tick the box, enter their name and address, press enter and their pledges are registered and counted. Public dissatisfaction with the political system is deep and widespread, people know it has failed them, and CfD believe that once we are news tens of thousands of people will go to the website, pledge on line and the campaign will be won. It's simple and incredibly powerful.
The local campaigns are fully prepared. The leaflets, banners, displays and booklets that will be needed by local groups are already done, although more work will be done on banners and posters as ideas are developed. Training packs for our door to door pledge collection teams are complete. They include sections on our strategy and tactics so that our teams know where they fit into the campaign and full instructions on our canvassing procedure. This procedure has been developed and tested in canvassing experiments in Wales.
The presentations given to the public have also been developed and refined at several meetings.
A typical constituency campaign would aim to collect 3000 pledges, far in excess of the number needed to control the outcome of the election in that seat. Pledges from 50% of households can be expected in door to door campaigning, each household pledging averaging two pledges. In addition to this a high rate of recruitment can be expected. This means that our teams have to visit 3000 households. We expect to have at least 100 volunteers per constituency, working in pairs, far less than are needed for a normal party campaign. Each pair of volunteers need to visit 60 households. Half of them will say no, leaving 30 households to be followed up. Volunteers can work on their own doorstep, covering the streets they live in minimising the amount of work they need to do. This takes about two evenings of about two hours each between seven and nine.
Because of the relatively small amount of work needed we can afford to put a great deal of care into getting pledges from each household. The process is started with a letter written to the individual householders by name, names being obtained from the electoral register. The envelope has the name of the occupiers handwritten on it and is delivered by hand. This work can be done by volunteers who do not wish to canvass, and it takes about an hour to prepare 100 letters and envelopes. After the letter there is a follow up visit and those interested in the campaign are given leaflets and booklets telling them more about the project. Sometimes people have had a look at the website and are ready to sign pledges on the first visit, others prefer to have a look through the booklets. A second visit is made and pledges are collected. This is also a good time to recruit new supporters.
The canvassing effort would be accompanied by talks and meetings in the area, several constituencies in the area being targeted in the same week to ensure good local press coverage. Paradoxically this coverage would probably lead to all the pledges needed being collected over the internet, but unless you run the ground campaign you don't get the coverage. It is intended that each area will have it's own full time coordinator.
The cost of a constituency campaign is £2000. This covers letters, leaflets and booklets the main cost being the booklets. This is equivalent to 80 supporters making a £25 donation. It is anticipated that each local coordinator working on a three month contract would cost around £7,000 to pay and equip, and would cover anything from two to five constituencies. This would be the equivalent of 320 supporters donating £25.
The local campaigns are the key to winning. Once we have proved that these will work or are working CfD has won because of the media attention it will get.