Week 2 - Steep Learning Curves

29th May 2015 By Mark Enser

Week one of forming this new political movement flew by. We had meeting in a pub to work out how to support four independent candidates stand in a by-election and within a day had prepared to launch a political party. Moving so fast is exciting but leads to problems and steep learning curves.

On Monday the Town Council met for the first time. Two candidates stood for Mayor the person who controls the agenda of the council the previous Mayor who had helped to move the Council away from party politics and a new Conservative councillor. The new Councillor won with 14 votes to 1. A new Liberal Democrat councillor was then elected as Deputy Mayor. How this came to be will I suppose be an eternal mystery.

The next point to come to attention was that one of the Conservative councillors had not taken their seat and had not been heard from since the election. It is not uncommon around the country for national parties to put up paper candidates¬Ě to fill the ballot paper but who have no intention of standing. We still do not know what has happened here but if there is a by-election it will cost our town thousands of pounds.

It would though give ifS a chance to get 5 independent voices on the Town Council! This would be very exciting but this is where our need to move quickly nearly became our undoing. We still hadn't decided how ifS was to work. Who, if anyone, decided who would stand? Some suggested that any independent who wanted to stand should be able to do so with our support even if it split the vote a dozen ways. Others felt that the existing candidates could stand in one seat and if unsuccessful stand in the next.

Emergency meetings were held, frantic discussions were had, and a much needed Way of Working was developed. This is something we should have drawn up at the very beginning and something that Flatpack Democracy really emphasises the need for so we have no excuse. What we have now is a document that outlines how decisions are made, why and by whom. Have a look at the FAQs for details.

Soon we were back on track and back doing what mattered. The leaflet designs were coming on nicely, a video for the website was being produced and discussions were being had about a party to celebrate our launch. Then the electoral commission got in touch. Our logo might be too similar to that used in Frome and could be rejected! Our beloved logo was going to need a redesign! Luckily our chief designer was on it and with input from the team we soon had two variations to submit and a promise that early in the week we should have a decision. Just in time for nominations!

Week two accomplishments:A quick redesign of a logo, creating a way of working and forming a small executive to make decisions, getting a leaflet off the ground.

Week two challenges:keeping people together as the group decides what it wants to be, finding ways to make collective decisions.

Week three to-do list:Finish leaflet and get it to the printers, nominations in to district council (hopefully with the ifS logo!), launch website, Facebook page and Twitter, come up with a canvassing strategy, tell the world!