Robbie Scott on how Putney became Labour’s only Tory scalp
If we were going to be successful in Putney, we would have to run one of the most innovative campaigns since the ‘Battle for Barking’ when we destroyed the BNP in East London. We achieved this in three main ways.
1) We embedded ourselves in local community groups before the election was called. An active community approach was essential. We talked up Labour’s transformative manifesto, our record in government, at City Hall and the achievements of our local councillors. Our parliamentary candidate was part of a larger Labour team who was already delivering for residents.
2) We relentlessly exploited the growing tensions between ‘small C’ conservative voters and the government – first, on their austerity agenda and, as the campaign gathered pace, on Brexit. This helped steer local opinion and secure the endorsement of all the tactical voting websites in a constituency that overwhelmingly voted to Remain.
3) We effectively managed thousands of volunteers throughout the campaign. We knew the lion’s share would probably come from Momentum and it did – but given all of the other high profile races across London that wouldn’t be enough. The campaign had to be broad. This was by far the most tricky aspect to manage. Whatever your politics or internal party grouping, there was something for you to do. A leaflet you’d like; a canvass or task you’d be keen to help with. Targeting voters is a well-known campaign technique. Our volunteers were organised in precisely the same way.
We had the bodies to expand our core and reach out to new support, to squeeze the Lib Dem and Green vote and develop relationships with swing voters by canvassing the same streets multiple times with the same volunteers. The word soon got out that in Putney we did things a little differently. After that, things exploded with hundreds of volunteers a night and an Election Day run by over 1,000 volunteers.