Independent candidates can sometimes find it difficult to produce a comprehensive manifesto on national and international issues. To help you get started we have put together the following suggestions.
Use the Network
The IN, as the name suggests, is a network for independents that aims to pool resources to enable candidates to succeed. Candidates can use the network to communicate and use the expertise of other independents and supporters. For instance, if you are struggling on education and healthcare, you can contact candidates who are doctors or teachers to improve your understanding of these areas.
Whilst New Labour proclaimed, ‘education, education, education’, a statement for independents could be ‘research, research, research’. It’s important that you’re up to date on current political debates and have a good knowledge base on national policy. Think tanks provide excellent research on a wide range of subjects from economics to immigration. They are arguably influential in politics, as many party policies originate from research carried out by them. Examples of popular think tanks include ippr, Demos, Fabian Society and Hansard Society.
It’s useful to check out the demographics of your constituency. This can help you to target your voters, for instance you may want to attract a certain group, such as students. Good websites for demographics include UK Polling Report and National Statistics Online.
One of the strengths of being an independent candidate is that you don’t have to sign up to a rigid manifesto - you can freely listen and consult your constituents. Essentially you want to redirect their needs and requests in an effective and clear way in your manifesto. To be successful you will need to get in touch with people of all ages and backgrounds, this will enable you to have a balanced view. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to have a proper conversation with every electorate, so online methods are great. A good website is Survey Monkey which enables users to create online surveys for free.
A good way to get in touch with younger people is by using popular social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is a great way to connect with a wide range of people that you may not meet in traditional public political events. Barack Obama used Facebook and Twitter in the 2008 US presidential election to his advantage in order to connect with his audience. Social Oomph is a great website that enables users to manage social media and is an essential tool for candidates.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
If you have policies that are similar or the same as political parties, avoid the pitfalls of completely changing your manifestos just to be different; there’s no point reinventing the wheel. But it can be an advantage to research opposing candidates’ manifestos if asked to draw upon why your policies are better than theirs; it is always good to know what you are up against.
Finally, if you’re supporter of a charity or pressure group, you may want to include some of their policies in your manifesto. For instance Save the Children is asking Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) to consent (if elected) to take direct action to end child poverty. If you’re not currently involved with a charity, but passionate about a certain issue, you may want to contact an organisation that supports your views. For instance if you’re passionate about electoral reform, you may want to get in touch with Power 2010 and sign up to their pledge for PPCs.
If you think we’ve missed any key points please leave your comments below or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org