In May 2010 Labour held seats that were expected to fall to the Conservatives. Eight of the 90 Tory target seats stayed red. The Liberal Democrats held on to another 11.

Labour activists, through their hard work and determination, denied the Tories a majority. Key to that was the work of excellent candidates, committed volunteers and well worked strategies. This pamphlet looks at the very different models that can work for a campaign.

Both Progress and Community are proud to have helped – in our own small ways – with a number of these winning campaigns. Progress through its campaign days saw first-hand Gisela Stuart’s winning strategy. Both Nick Smith and John Mann are Community supported MPs; Community’s long-term relationship with these candidates, the local parties and seats reinforced each others’ message and strategy and led to a successful partnership. All unions in London worked together with the anti-fascists at Searchlight to help local campaigners defeat the BNP and wipe them from the council in Barking and Dagenham.

This election proved the old adage – ‘never disbelieve that a small group of people can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has’. What seems self-evident, however, is that Labour cannot continue to rely on its current activist base; this must be expanded. The number of new members, the commitment of existing activists and the timescale a fixed-term parliament
provides means we must take time and invest in training a new generation of organisers – both paid and volunteer.

The next election will be about Labour defying its own history. On every occasion bar one when we leave government we lose the next election even more heavily – everyone knows we did worse in 1983 than 1979. We must change this historical reality. To help win in 2015, we should learn from those who defied the national swing in 2010. Let’s hope we can continue in this vein because getting a Labour government back must be our focus.

Organising to win: How seats defied the national swing can be download here.