Labour’s £250,000-raising tea towel

Douglas Alexander MP
Douglas Alexander MP
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LABOUR’s senior election planners are gearing up for a record-breaking battle as they amass a £1m small donations fund for the first time.

Election co-ordinators Douglas Alexander and Lucy Powell are hoping a 300-strong army of regional agents, an army of volunteers taking part in 20,000 voter conversations a day and a sophisticated digital marketing campaign can combat the £20m Conservative election machine.

The MPs have been tasked with countering an increasingly wealthy campaign, though Labour’s own fund raising will be boosted by union donations already worth £8m.

The team have revealed that an email marketing strategy based around personalised pleas for small donations sent direct to thousands of inboxs has brought in £1m, a UK small donations record. A similarly marketed Labour tea towel sale brought in £250,000.

Mr Alexander also revealed the team’s research suggest the Ukip vote has dropped off as the election approaches, removing another threat to a Labour victory.

Asked about a leaked document which last year revealed the extent of lost voters to Ukip, Mr Alexander said: “I’m not sure that is happening anything like as strongly now as it was a few months ago, let’s be absolutely honest.”

The focus now, he said, was on the four million conversations target party leader Ed Miliband set last year.

“We get a morning update on how many conversations we have in the last 24 hours,” Mr Alexander said.

“We know we have to be out there. One of the areas we are proudest of is our online effort.

The Tories are throwing shedloads of money at their online operation. They are spending lots and lots of money on Facebook and everything else but their product is not as good, and in that sense, not just in terms of the number of conversations of the visibility of the literature or the number of doorstep conversations, but we’re also asking have you heard from Labour online.

“There is a section of the electorate who receive most of its news online,and that’s through Facebook, it is a space we need to be in.

“We have we have to be even more resourceful up against a Conservative party with significant resources to put into this.”

Ms Powell said the four million conversation target had focused the party’s election campaign.

“We do about 20,000 a day but that peaks at weekends in particular. It is having a real impact on the ground.

We have over 300 staff working in the field. In January 2010 we had 50 staff working in the field. It is the biggest field staff organisation that has ever being mobilised in a UK election we think.

“We ask people in key seats have you heard from any political party recently, and despite the huge amount of money the Tories are throwing into key seats some 34 per cent have heard from Labour against 25 from the Tories. If you get the local Labour party knocking on the door you are much more likely to remember that than if you get four or five leaflets, so we are confident about that.”

She added: “It has been an incredibly successful campaign, we have raised over the last year over £1m in small donations, that’s the largest small donation fundraising drive that the UK political parties have ever seen. And we will be seeking to massively increase that.

“The vote Labour tea towels, that has raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds. Colleagues and members keep saying why do I keep getting emails about tea towels, well because it is very successful.

“A quarter of a million pounds from the tea towels plus £1m in small donations has been very significant so far.”