Election 2015: How to find the influencing sweet spot

One of new Tory chairman Grant Shapps’ first actions last year was to install an election countdown clock in the party’s HQ.

Today that clock will be reading 798 days until the next general election. Two years, two months and ten days.

It may sound like a long time, but not all these days are equal when it comes to influencing the next election and crucially, the next government’s programme.

There’s a sweet spot for influencing the parties’ policies in the run-up to the election, and it lies between around two years and a year ahead of the poll date. Earlier than this, it’s hard to see what the big issues of the election will be, and parties don’t want to commit themselves to anything too soon. Leave it too late and the hard thinking on what’s going in the manifestos has been done and you’ve missed the boat.

Here at NCVO we’ve been doing some serious thinking about how we can support our members to influence the next election:

This marks the first post in our election blog which will run from now until the election. We’ll be inviting members to contribute their thoughts and share their plans for influencing the next election. Please get in touch via Twitter or by emailing Chloe Stables if you would like to contribute.

Later this year, NCVO will launch a six month consultation process with our members. The purpose will be to identify the policy priorities you think that NCVO should be pushing in the run up to the next election. The themes we have identified are:

  • Making Public Services work better
  • A more balanced economy
  • Supporting volunteering and social action
  • Building a voluntary sector fit for the future

The consultation will be officially launched at Evolve 2013 on June 17, members will be able to contribute their thoughts online, and at a number of face to face events across the country in the Autumn (more details to follow). We’ll be using the hashtag #tellncvo so if you have thoughts now – don’t hesitate to get in touch. This will sit alongside a wider strategic review following NCVO’s merger with Volunteering England.

We’re also kicking off a number of training sessions aimed at organisations that are looking to sharpen up their influencing skills. The first of these sessions will hear from Akash Paun from the Institute for Government and James O’Shaugnessy, Chief Political Adviser for Portland and former Director of Policy for David Cameron. We’ll be discussing how to work with the coalition in the run up to the election, who the key players are and what drives them. Both Akash and James have a unique perspective into this and the session will give organisations an insight into the inner workings of coalition government, you can sign up here.

Whatever the result of the next election, we want charities, the people they serve and that knowledge and experience they hold to shape the debate.

Chloe Stables’s blog

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Chloe Stables, External Relations Manager, reflects on the latest political developments affecting the voluntary and community sector.

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