Erika Uyterhoeven, digital officer for Momentum, writes in the Guardian: With just one paid staff member and more than 30 volunteers from Edinburgh to Miami, Momentum managed to create social media videos that were watched by nearly one in three UK Facebook users. Ordinary members made the videos. Other members shared them. Both their production and impact were consequences of the movement.
From New Statesman: By planning a long-term digital strategy, Momentum hopes to improve on Labour’s 2017 election performance. Its social media team is developing tools to analyse the success of videos and posts among each demographic (one in three people on Facebook viewed its videos during the campaign), in order to expand its reach further.
The team is also building its own online payments system – it had been using PayPal, which charges a fixed fee, meaning “losing about a quarter of our donations to the one per cent”, according to digital officer and former Bernie Sanders staff member Erika Uyterhoeven.
She is not the only former Sanders campaign worker interested in Corbynism. Supporters of the two left-wing politicians built a fruitful relationship during the election campaign, with activists coming over from the US to help train canvassers. Ben Packer, who helped code during the campaign, says: “I’m just trying to help people steal our stuff… Even though the issues are somewhat country specific, they’re analogous – you want a better National Health Service, we want some national health service; the tech is the same.”
From The Guardian: Credited with mobilising the youth vote, Momentum’s snappy social media campaigns gleaned millions of shares. The group also sent scores of campaigners – some of them first-time canvassers – into the country’s most marginal constituencies, helping to drive up support for Labour, house by house and street by street.
Using an online map of marginal seats as well as WhatsApp and phone banks to enlist and direct activists, the group transformed Labour’s canvassing game, helping to turn seats such as Canterbury, Sheffield Hallam, Derby North and Croydon Central into Labour wins. MPs who may once have criticised the group are now more enthusiastic, while Momentum organisers say that, since members and constituency campaigners worked so closely in the past six weeks, relations are more cordial. Those who were divided over past splits in the Labour party got to know each other – and found that they got along.
Now, Momentum wants to build on the – oh, let’s just go with it – momentum to militate against any complacency over Labour’s dramatic increase in voter share, now at 40%, or disillusion that the party nonetheless lost the election. Since the general election, the Labour party has gained 35,000 new members, while 1,500 have joined Momentum. With greater numbers, capacity and credibility, the task now is ensuring more activists join in and are election-ready – because who knows how soon we’re going to have to do it all again.
But elections aren’t the only focus. For a start, Momentum wants to move away from the idea that political campaigning only takes place when votes are needed. It plans to engage in community action, whether that’s voter registration campaigns or support for local causes, so that the group and, by extension, the Labour party, is organically active at grassroots level.
From The Guardian: In Battersea in south London, Labour turned a Tory majority of 7,938 into a Labour majority of 2,416, on a 9.1% swing. The new MP, Marsha de Cordova, sounded overjoyed, after what was widely regarded as an especially energetic campaign. “I think for us in Battersea, when I first got selected over there, everyone had it down as an unwinnable seat,” she reflects. “But we had some amazing young talent, people who were willing to be out in serious bad weather at times, morning, noon and night. There was so much enthusiasm around our campaign, it galvanised people – we had a message of hope, and a really progressive manifesto that we could share on the doorstep and be proud of. Battersea is a seat with a lot of inequality, a lot of estates that have been abandoned – I haven’t got the final figures, but turnout on some of our estates, among the more impoverished communities, increased massively. What’s really important is we keep these young people who have been volunteering involved and engaged, and all the CLPs have to be really opening and welcome. But I also want us to look at how we can change the dynamic and do different things to keep them engaged, because local party meetings can be pretty dry.”
That means keeping people such as Ellen Buddle – and it sounds as if the party is on the right path. “I’ll definitely, definitely be canvassing again if there’s another election,” Buddle says. “But more than that, I’m excited to see what Momentum and Labour decide to do in the meantime. I want to get involved in community campaigns – and I can’t wait to jump in and help out in future.”
From The Week: The My Nearest Marginal website was the brainchild of Momentum and “one of the most useful weapons in [its] tech arsenal”, said The Times.
It allowed activists, particularly first-time canvassers, to easily find battleground seats and campaign more effectively for Labour and was used by more than 100,000 people.
“We reached out way beyond our own bubble – we only have 24,000 members,” said Adam Klug, one of the central Momentum team.
Momentum held “mass campaign weekends in critical seats such as Croydon Central, Derby North, Sheffield Hallam, Battersea, Leeds North West, and Brighton Kemptown”, the New Statesman reports, and in all of the targeted seats, “Conservative majorities collapsed in the face of energy and enthusiasm channelled into a movement”.
The professional nature of the movement was also a big positive. “It was like clockwork,” one volunteer told The Guardian, which says the activist had simply gone “to the front room of someone who knew she was coming” and they “told her the exact door numbers to knock on and what time to knock.
“Several sources said so many volunteers flooded the constituency that some had to be sent elsewhere.”
From Huffpost UK: Momentum’s General Election operation brought in a number of activists from the Bernie Sanders campaign in the US. The American activists’ knowhow proved vital in building an innovative and dynamic campaign to mobilise campaigners and galvanise support.
An updated version of this app was utilised by Momentum for the General Election, which supplemented our large phone banks in London and elsewhere.
Momentum also developed My Nearest Marginal, an easy to use website designed to direct activists towards their nearest key seat and help to ensure marginal constituencies had enough activists fighting for a Labour victory. More than 100,000 people used My Nearest Marginal during the General Election campaign, over four times the size of Momentum’s membership. This was one among many factors which allowed Labour to stack up votes in marginal constituencies, which pundits had assumed Labour would lose.
From BBC News Online: Momentum national organiser Emma Rees tells the BBC how Momentum’s office used a “WhatsApp cascade” on polling day, to send a #GetOutTheVote broadcast rapidly viral to 400,000 mainly young users of WhatsApp.
From The Guardian: Corbyn’s unusual appeal and status as an outsider meant that there was suddenly a huge amount of online coverage the party did not have to pay for. It secured a coveted prize of “organic sharing” – online users deciding to pass on campaign material to their friends and family voluntarily.
“The Tories spent vast amounts on digital advertising and local newspaper ads, but it was so negative that they got hardly any organic sharing – no one wanted to be associated with those messages,” said a senior campaign figure.
A video of Corbyn interjecting during Theresa May’s Facebook Live chat on ITV received 4 million views. Corbyn challenging May to a debate reached 1.4 million people. A video on May’s security record reached 2.3 million people. As for the old-school rallies, Corbyn addressed 100,000 voters at 90 events during the campaign. It was the symbolism and energy of the events, however, that gave them significance.
From Financial Times: Nearly 10m people watched leftwing videos on Facebook that appear to have turbo-charged Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign.
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