In campaigning, being right ain’t enough. These are the words of Tim, a very talented campaigner I hired two years ago from an environmental charity. The four of us that make up the local campaigning team were sharing our stories of how we’d gotten into activism, to get to know each other a bit better. He said that an important part of his journey had been realising that it wasn’t enough to have a rock-solid case for change, this had to be combined with a solid strategy, set of tactics and infrastructure in order to convince others and to win lasting change.
This really resonated with me at the time, and it still does (Tim has since come out with numerous pearls of wisdom, proving himself to be an excellent hire). I’m constantly thinking about whether the approach I’m taking in campaigning is right, if it’s going to result in the change that’s so badly needed. I’ve decided to write a blog in part to satisfy the little voice that’s constantly asking ‘is this going to work?’ I also hope what I say here might be of interest to other campaigners, and to chip in my two penn’orth into the wider debate.
As the title I’ve chosen suggests, I’m going to be taking an analytical look at the strategy, tactics and infrastructure that sit behind campaigns (or as the case may be, are missing from campaigns). I’m not going to spend any time discussing whether we’re right to fight for the progressive causes we do, because there are plenty of other blogs devoted to that and frankly, I can’t be arsed. For the purposes of this blog I’m going to assume my reader agrees that equality, justice and human rights are worth defending, and is interested in the ‘how’ more than the ‘why.’
I don’t think there’s enough self-reflection going on in campaigning, or if it is happening, I’m struggling to find it. I see really talented, creative and smart people working tirelessly to craft campaigns using the latest technology and platforms, but I’m left wondering which ones are having the real impact we need. I’ve been a campaigner for nearly a decade now and most of that time has felt like fire-fighting. Being a campaigner is the best job in the world, but it’s also bloody frustrating.
I’m not a natural writer, and find it hard to carve out ‘quiet time’, so this blog will stretch me. You’ll also have to forgive my poor spelling and grammar. I hope that what I write here will prove to be an effective outlet for me, and create useful food for thought for you.