About Stop the Tories 2017: A 5-point strategic project to seed wildcat DIY resistance to the Tories in #GE17

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#ChangeTheDebate #GE17:

You can't eat a Hard Brexit. The cruelty and selfishness of Tory government has left children starving and disabled people dying.

Daily_Mail_recoloured.pngYet the Tory newspapers and their BBC echo are insisting that #GE17 is all about Brexit, "strong and stable government", and one-eyed reporting of internal debates in the Labour Party.

If voters are allowed to continue thinking of the election in these terms, the Tories will win big. Those who "frame" an election, win an election.

Yet what about if we harness the massive power of social media and DIY street activism, to get the nation thinking and talking about the issues and ideas the Tories and their friends don't want anyone thinking about? You know, things like humanity, starving children and dying disabled people?

FB_meme.jpgWe need to start changing the national conversation through the power of social media. We need to get more conversations happening across the UK in families, in the pub, round the water cooler, about the realities of murderously cruel, enormously selfish, sociopathic Tory rule. 

There's real hope with that, for people power to throw out the usual rulebook for how this election will play out in these strange and messed-up times. 

Our strategy §1: Demystifying and empowering DIY street activism 

Designs_page_FB_thumbnail_96dpi.jpgHanding out your own anti-Tory flyers is something that anyone and everyone can do. 

Traditionally in the UK (much more than some other countries), street campaigning has been the exclusive domain of formal political parties. There is no reason why it has to be like this.

For a DIY campaigner, there is only one point of election law that is likely to be relevant - the need to provide "election imprint" small print. This website explains this and gives step-by-step instructions for imprinting pre-made flyer designs correctly. Hopefully this ensures that everyone can campaign legally.

_VotingToryKillsDisabledPeople_A6_front_96dpi.jpgWithout the constraints and compromises faced by party machines producing party propaganda, we are free to provide minimalist, hard-hitting designs which really tell it like it is about #ToryBritain (#VotingToryStarvesChildren, #VotingToryKillsDisabledPeople, etc). Political psychology advises that it's necessary to provide both a positive narrative about what you want people to vote for, and a suitably negative narrative about what you want them to vote against.

With the challenges the Progressive Alliance faces in this election, and the (supposed) "need" for progressive parties to fight each other in many seats, the focused negative messages about what Tory victory will actually mean for real people tend to get marginalised. These flyers simply tell truth to (possible) Tory supporters, and are aimed at near-instantly conveying an uncompromising message.

This can perhaps be contrasted with glossy, voluptuous, fold-out party leaflets, which are text heavy, and whose design hasn't changed much since the 1990s. Our flyer designs, in contrast, are converted Facebook memes... maybe an appropriate approach for 2017?!?

This website, and some of the content published on Stop the Tories 2017, aim to move people along in the process of understanding just how possible (and right now, arguably vital) it is to get involved on your own streets.

Our strategy §2: #DonateToWin - an alternative approach

2015-05-12_facebook-likes.pngUnfortunately, the echo chamber effect on social media is now notorious. 'Going viral' on social media normally means reaching thousands of people who already agree with you. Politically engaged, left-of-centre people.

Keen opponents of the Tories are a bit of a bubble on Facebook. People around the UK who live very different lives to you are seeing very different things to you on their Facebook feeds.

Grass-roots campaigning on Facebook without using money often reaches disappointingly few people, and broad reach is very difficult. We opponents of the Tories are often preaching on Facebook only really to the choir.

crowdfunding-min.jpgUnleashing the power of crowdfunding

Yet, coming together to use the secret power of money, we can easily reach Tory supporters and undecideds directly on their Facebook news feeds. We can reach less engaged people. People who might not have decided how to vote, people who haven't made their mind up to vote for the Tories, "soft" (i.e. persuadable) Tory-leaners.

Our strategy §3: Demystifying and empowering DIY Facebook page publishing, using DIY paid ads with any budget

Facebook_publishing_web_thumbnail_v2.pngSome do prefer campaigning in their armchair to taking to the streets, and that's totally cool.

The power and the accessibility of Facebook paid advertising is under-understood in left-wing political movements.

Any campaigner can reach thousands of ordinary voters in their local area, with their own easy and hugely fun publishing project. You can reach like-minded people, being as specific or as general as you choose.

Example_of_small_FB_budget_stats.pngYou can speak to your own people much better than a central page can. So... we provide a step-by-step guide to creating your own Facebook page. You can aim at a specific local area - OR a community of interest, anything from football fans to metalheads to a religious group to an ethnic group.

Our strategy §4: Stop the Tories 2017 Facebook page

FB_page_thumbnail-min.jpgStop the Tories 2017 is the Facebook page which uses all the money crowdfunded. we skilfully "paid boost" the very best alternative anti-Tory posts onto the news feeds of as many extra Facebook users as possible.

Many of the thousands of extra people we reach will be soft Tory supporters or undecided voters. Some of these might have forgotten, or deliberately forgotten, just how nasty and vicious this Tory government is. We get to remind them.

We will skilfully target the money to primarily reach people living in marginal constituencies, the minority of places which (unfairly) decide the outcome of General Elections. (Distasteful game, but one the Tories totally play, essential to make a real difference.) 

Activist digital publishing to build an anti-Tory virtual social movement

The Stop the Tories 2017 Facebook page works on different levels. We're also bringing strong journalistic skills to the project, republishing a wider range of the very best anti-Tory posts (many of which are not eligible for Facebook 'paid boost' for technical reasons), which are being widely liked and shared by our 8,000 page followers. 

The aim is to help seed the cross-party social movement which Progressive Alliance politicians are starting to talk about. We're hoping to introduce the idea to casual followers that participation in an election as big as this one can be a mass movement, popular uprising kind of thing - not just a geeky hobby for political party cliques.

The page makes extensive use of hashtags, to support one potentially very effective way of organising and distilling anti-Tory messages.

Our strategy §5: Political psychology principles

political_brain.jpgAll of this site's sponsored memes and toolkit double-sided flyer designs draw on political psychology in combining the following elements:

  • snappy slogan
  • Imagery which encourages the public to make alternative psychological connections aimed at making it psychologically harder for people to vote for the Tories. The featured images very different to the Tory media imagery of "strong and stable", union jacks etc etc
  • tabloid-style piece of copy on the reverse
  • Sources for claims made and/or links to further information
  • A hashtag, to drive people to investigate the issues further for themselves on social media

About the creator

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This toolkit has been put together by freelance activist-publisher Chris Henderson.

Chris's activist days started 15 years ago in student politics in Durham, with an LGBTQ community focus. He was also Chief Sub-Editor of student newspaper Palatinate. Chris has a professional background as a public servant in inner-city London, including improving charity grant programmes and community communications, and has also been a charity trustee. Chris knows what a difference decently funded public services make to vulnerable people. More recently he was comms officer for Haringey Green Party in North London, pioneering the use of innovative A6 flyers and paid social media campaigning. He has also provided social media training at national Green Party events, and run charity fundraiser community club nights. Now entirely freelance, for #GE17 Chris is working in non-aligned and cross-party ways to fight Tories, not rooted in party political paradigms.

Chris is now a postgraduate psychology student. He has an interest in political psychology, and is a fan of punk-influenced DIY activism. Chris is also a Harry Potter fan, strongly channelling the vibe for #GE17 of Dumbledore's Army fighting the (Tory) Death Eaters in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Further reading...

Key source: The Political Brain by Drew Westen [Author's website] [Link to purchase book