Today marks a big step forward for Labour in London and Ken Livingstone’s campaign to win back City Hall, with the launch of our online volunteer tool, YourKen.org
YourKen takes it to a different level, empowering the group of people who have made an incredible difference since we started – our volunteers.
YourKen will enable the Ken volunteer community across London to do more: organise campaigning events, get details of the latest campaign meetings or social events across London, and organise other voluntary or community activity. This new system will mean volunteers can speak to other volunteers, share ideas and experiences, and blog about the campaign within the volunteer site. It aims to grow our volunteer base and expand our reach to all parts of London.
Those of us at campaign HQ believe YourKen will become a powerful tool for developing Ken’s campaign. It encourages volunteer activity and records it online, enabling us to get a picture of how well the campaign is developing. It also means the most active volunteers can be recognised and thanked.
Underpinning the system is technology by Nationbuilder. The YourKen launch today also includes a powerful new text channel, working with the same team that helped change the terms of Labour’s leadership campaign with its text recruitment of thousands of new volunteers.
We are unashamed at trying to break boundaries and learn from others. That’s the principle Ken used as Mayor to innovate in policing, transport and the environment, and to bring over the best transport operators in the world to help transform London’s ageing system. He has already started to set out a similar approach with his Smart City agenda. Likewise we have learned from the campaigns of politicians and campaigners around the world who have put their volunteers first and embraced their enthusiasm and activity.
The road we are taking may seem ambitious. But we want our activists and supporters to understand that in the Mayoral campaign London is one constituency. We generally fight elections to win local government wards or parliamentary constituencies and if we win those areas by one vote that can bring a great sense of satisfaction. But those local boundaries don’t apply here. Every vote across the whole of London counts.
We need to find our votes wherever they are – including in areas that aren’t always such a priority for Westminster or local government campaigns. Ken Livingstone needs a 3.1 per cent London-wide swing from the 2008 election to be ahead in the first round of voting. That is an achievable target. A thriving community of volunteers can help make it possible, whether in person on the doorstep, in their local street or estate, through social media with their friends and contacts, or on our phone-bank calling Londoners direct.
The failure of the Conservative Party to respond adequately to the recent riots, followed by their unseemly falling out with the police, and personified by Boris Johnson’s blunder in not coming back more quickly to provide leadership for London, led to a Twitter campaign #imisskenlivingstone. As Ken found when he met local residents and business-owners following the riots there are growing numbers of Londoners who are telling him they want him to come back and sort things out.
YourKen is a big step in helping achieve just that.
Simon Fletcher is Ken Livingstone's chief of staff. You can follow him on Twitter @fletchersimon