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A campaign of the many, for the many

Labour’s people-powered campaign is off to a flying start, writes MATT WILLGRESS

ONE OF the most positive news stories since my last column was that in its first 10 days since the general election was called, Labour’s campaign received small donations totalling more than £1 million. The average donation was £26.

And despite claims in much of the Tory-supporting media that Labour wouldn’t be able to get people active and supporting the campaign like in 2017, in fact in the first two days of the campaign, the party raised almost as much as it did in the first two weeks of the 2017 election campaign.

Like so many other developments in this general election campaign, this story illustrates a stark contrast between the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party and Boris Johnson’s hard-right Tories.

Whilst Labour is funded by hundreds of thousands of people who want to transform our country to put wealth and power in the hands of the many, the Tories are the party of the privileged few. Indeed, the Conservatives have taken £1,106,700 from just one person this year.

As Andrew Gwynne, Labour campaign co-ordinator put it, “People know that a Labour government will be on the side of our NHS, not Donald Trump and on the side of millions of workers who pay their taxes and serve our communities, not the wealthy few who fund the Conservative Party.

“Our movement is powered by people and volunteers making small contributions they can afford, because they want to change the country for the better.”

And Labour’s campaign — and string of policy announcements — haven’t just inspired more people than ever to make small donations to help out.

They have also already inspired incredible levels of canvassing, social media activity, street campaigning and more.

All over the country, people are reporting to me that they have more volunteers than ever, packed out launch events and a real interest from people not just to campaign in their own areas, but also in key marginal seats.

At our own #JC4PM Labour Assembly Against Austerity rally on Saturday afternoon, Emma Dent Coad MP reported amazing levels of activity every single day in her marginal seat, and Cities of London and Westminster PPC Gordon Nardell said that they expected to be able to canvass the entire seat in record time.

As part of this surge of activity, there is also great interest in some of the work Momentum is doing to amplify Labour’s message and get people out campaigning.

This Saturday alone, they reported that thousands of you used MyCampaignMap.com to knock on doors across the country, and that this element of the campaign is already so much bigger than in 2017.

Alongside canvassing sessions, this impressive map will host phone bank parties, street stalls, campaign HQs, rallies, socials and campus events, and you people are able to upload your own events. It will also send you event RSVPs and the contact details of attendees so you can plan local events more effectively, as well as promote local canvassing groups on Facebook and WhatsApp.

They are also running phone bank parties where you can meet up and call voters in marginals using Labour’s calling app; are training new activists in canvassing and brought together what they call a digital army so that thousands of us together can use our social media accounts to amplify key content and make big political moments go viral.

And like the official Labour campaign, Momentum has also had a great response to its calls for support with more than 11,000 people donating since the election began, and more volunteers stepping forward than ever.

As I’m writing this column, news is breaking of Farage’s pact with Boris Johnson. As the Labour Party Chair Ian Lavery has said: “This is a Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson alliance with Donald Trump to sell out our country and send £500 million per week from our NHS to US drugs companies,” and we must “urge voters to reject this Thatcherite 1980s tribute act, which would lead to more savage Tory attacks on working-class communities.”

We are in the fight of our lives. The Tories may be able to count on support from hedge funds and bankers — and now Nigel Farage — but we can beat them collectively. People power really can make a difference and we are all Labour’s secret weapon. Let’s win this together.

Matt Willgress is the national organiser of the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and editor of Labour Outlook.

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