A review of two excellent campaign tools focused on influencing members of the House of Lords.
Unlike their counterparts in the House of Commons, members of the House of Lords can be notoriously hard to campaign towards. There are over 800 of them, with some as regular attenders, while others who rarely turn up. Some are independent spirits, while others are still loyal to the parties that bestowed the peerage on the them.
But with the Health and Social Care Bill coming before the House of Lords later in the week, it’s been interesting to see how campaign organisations have been trying to target them. A couple of excellent tools have been launched to target Lords.
38 Degrees have developed a‘Contact a Lord’ tool with donations from members. It’s a tool that provides you, on production of your postcode and email address, with the contact details of a Lord to send a message to. I think it’s based on a similar function on the writetothem website and it’s a simple and user-friendly way of taking action, and I’m certain it’s providing a fuller inbox for Lords who aren’t traditionally used to receiving bulging postbags!
For me a couple of improvements could enhance its effectiveness in the future;
1. Be more specific and target those Lords who are likely to be wavering about how they might vote. I’ve used the system twice and ended up with former Chairmen of the Conservative Party, Lord Patten, who I’d imagine is unlikely not to vote the way that he’s being asked to. With greater political intelligence you could build a database to target the 50 or so most likely to be wavering and target them.
2. Make use of the Lords geographical loyalties. Although Lords don’t represent a geographical area, because of our ancient political system they’re all enobled to be ‘Lord of this place of that’. Often this is linked to a place that they have some link to, a former area they represented in Parliament, a place of birth, etc. It could be interesting if one production of your postcode you’d get the opportunity to message a Lord linked to where you live.
Some of the groups behind the #BlocktheBridge protests yesterday have also launched ‘Peer Pressure’ website. It provides a list of all Crossbench and Lib Dem MPs and their contact details. You’re encouraged to get in touch with them, although no tool do to this is provided, and then report back on if they’re likely to oppose the bill, using a ranking system.
The site is trying to provide a more detailed picture of which Lords are likely to block the bill but the site doesn’t have much information yet, just 19 Lords (out of over 270) have been reported on, so it’s perhaps not reached enough people as yet. Perhaps a tie up with 38 Degrees would help with this?
Overall, both organisations are to be congratulated for developing such innovative tools to address a tricky campaigning problem. With the Lords becoming a popular target to modify bills coming from the Tory-led Coalition, I’m expecting that we’ll see more campaign tools like this in the coming year, and organisations would do well to learn from these examples.
What other campaigning towards the House of Lords has impressed you?