The starting gun has been fired and the General Election is now underway. We’ve had a debate already, and a few twists and turns have already taken place.

At Copper, we’re lucky to employ people from across the political spectrum and have used their knowledge and experience to help clients navigate policies and procedures at a local, regional and national level.

Some of these people will now be writing a blog each week to talk about what it’s like on the ground during an election campaign. Whilst the newspapers and broadcasters focus on the gossip and big policy announcements, our writers will explain how candidates communicate with voters, how lobbying can become an unnecessary pain to campaign teams, and how the actions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country will dictate who runs our country for the next five years.

 

And so…. Let me begin.

You’ll be forgiven for thinking that as a Parliamentary Candidate in a target seat, I would have been given some sort of notice about an impending General Election.

You may think that I would have been summoned to a meeting about two weeks out to go through the election plans and key messages the party would fight on.

You may also think that when an election is announced, a Parliamentary Candidate would have been immediately surrounded by suited and booted aides and strategists, telling them what to say, what to wear and which media outlets to be talking to.

 

The reality though is very different.

The first I knew there was an election coming was after I received a WhatsApp message from the Regional Campaigns Manager – “This is very likely to happen, will call you when off the train”.

An hour later and I was briefed that the election was in fact coming and we would have to do three things:

  1. Get out our “flying start” leaflet to all 40,000 houses in the constituency within 72 hours
  2. Call and write to all of our members and volunteers to get them ready for the six week campaign
  3. Call all our donors and ask them to help fund the campaign

 

While this was happening, text messages, WhatsApp messages, Facebook, Instagram and X DMs were all coming in with people asking if they could help, whether I knew anything about why it was called, and even if I needed anyone to cook me dinner!

I was incredibly lucky to have a fantastic team behind me already. Our campaign organiser, our one fulltime member of staff, had already instructed our volunteer deliverers to get our leaflet out, and had set up the campaign HQ to welcome a raft of other volunteers from across Greater Manchester. Whilst my Agent (the person legally responsible for the campaign) had already sorted the paperwork for my nominations and was on route to bring them to me for signing.

The fact is, we were prepared months ago for any likelihood of a “snap election”. But despite this, we had no warning whatsoever, and it does appear the same for candidates (and MPs) in other parties, including the Conservatives.

 

Caught by surprise?

Shortly after Rishi Sunak called the General Election, The Times reported that a leaked email from Conservative HQ had blamed various candidates and MPs for the bad start the party had to the election. The email stated that some people were on holiday, whilst others had not raised enough money, or been active enough in the community.

It does make it seem that no one was expecting this election, including the Party that runs the Government.

Clearly, when the smoke settles and the campaigning stops, the story of why this election was called will come out and we will get a better understanding of what made Rishi Sunak go to the country on the 22 May 2024, just week after being beaten soundly in the local elections.

But until then, we can only speculate and for some of us, we have many doors to knock on until that point.

 

Tom Morrison is a Strategic Director in Copper’s Economic Development practice and the Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Cheadle.