MRP Newsletter – February 2008
The coming year
With the days lengthening, I have been thinking about the forthcoming year and how best we might campaign to promote money reform. Last year’s efforts were devoted largely to Operation Money As Debt, which was getting as many copies as possible of the DVD ‘Money As Debt’ into the awareness of individuals and groups concerned about matters of public policy.
It scarcely set the world alight, but this is not due to any fault of the DVD, but rather due to my expectations that it would be sufficient. Clearly it is not. I think that besides anonymous DVDs, we need money reform to be identified with real people – us.
I think that more of us have to think about getting ourselves known locally as ‘that money reform person’, giving our neighbours a name and a face to whom they can refer when they are wondering about the money-related issues currently in the news. Fortunately, in the last twelve months our numbers have steadily increased, and although we are still a very small party, I am confident that local campaigning could start to be effective. This is particularly the case now that the ‘credit crunch’ is very much in the news.
After my dismal performance at Bromley in 2006, I thought that maybe election campaigning would be a waste of time and money for a good number of years, and that we should concentrate on educational projects, hence my push of the ‘Money As Debt’ DVD. However, with the Northern Rock and the ‘credit crunch’ still very much in the news, I think that a bit of old-style election campaigning would not go amiss. We have a long way to go, so for myself, the next election campaign will be starting now.
My proposal is that members (who wish to do so) each adopt a Parliamentary constituency and then promote money reform within that constituency as if they were seriously going to stand for election. I say ‘as if’ because it does not require any commitment to stand.
If the level of interest is insufficient to justify the expense of standing, or if you simply do not wish to stand, or if you are lucky enough to recruit a thrusting young would-be MP who is keen to stand, then you do not have to stand. Ultimately, there is no need to decide until the election is called, but I think it would be a useful exercise to campaign with the possibility of standing in mind, as a way of focussing the mind. (There are plenty of constituencies to go around, should there be a clash, the first member who selects a given constituency will run the campaign.)
The earliest that a general election is likely is May 2009, and it might not be until May 2010. So I am calling this project Campaign 2009.
My own plan is to campaign within the Canterbury constituency. This is not actually where I live, the boundary is about two miles away, but it is where I am active in the local credit union, so have more involvement here than in my own constituency which is geographically too extensive for easy campaigning.
I have a number of ideas for raising the profile of the Money Reform Party, which collectively I plan to use in my locality. My aim is that come the next general election, no one in the Canterbury constituency, who is even remotely considering voting, will say
‘I have never heard of the Money Reform Party.’
1. Guide to Household Budgeting
This was something that I wrote for my credit union, and we have agreed to do two versions, one published by the Canterbury Credit Union and one by the Money Reform Party, with myself listed as author and copyright holder in both cases.
This is a 16 page booklet which (as it says on the cover) is a simple guide to household budgeting. It is aimed at people who have trouble with their household finances, based on my experiences with my credit union. Some people have difficulties with the most elementary aspects of money matters (and they are not all on benefits or minimum wages). They will never understand the issues around money reform, but we can instil in them the idea that the Money Reform Party is worth supporting.
I have had 1000 copes printed (for £300) for distribution free to libraries, community centres, doctor’s surgeries, charities, day centres, housing associations, mums’ and toddlers’ groups, shops and any other groups that I can think of.
The idea of this is to get the Money Reform Party ‘brand’ known (and trusted) into as many households as possible. The guide contains useful addresses, credit union details, local Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, national free debt help organisations, credit rating agencies, and other useful contacts. The idea is that it is something people will keep, refer to and come to trust for advice and information.
I have great hopes for this little booklet. It is short enough to be read, useful enough to be kept,. If people keep it and refer to it, it will plant awareness of the ‘The Money Reform Party’ brand in their mind as sensible, practical, reliable and very much in the mainstream of popular thinking. Just the qualities with which we want to be associated, and of course, we will simply become better known.
I can forward email copies to anyone who wants to print their own local versions.
2. Leaflet drops
I have written a leaflet (see attached) explaining the credit crunch in simple terms, which I shall deliver as an experiment in certain selected areas.
I might write, print and distribute other leaflets in due course if they seem to be appropriate and effective.
With the warmer weather, it will soon become a good time for getting out onto to streets with the petition (see attached). I have tweaked it slightly to bring in the issue of boom and busts in the economy. The idea of this is not to get numbers of signatures (although if we collect a million, I won’t complain).
It is intended as an ice-breaker. If people are curious about the issue of honest money, it is a chance to briefly talk about to them about it, leaving the enquirer with a leaflet or even a copy of the DVD.
4.Talks to groups
I plan to offer myself to local groups to give a talk about the credit crunch. I could probably do this off the cuff myself, but if anyone else is interested in doing the same (and wants some help), I shall draw up a ‘script’ to act as the basis for their own talks.
5. City centre talks
I also plan to perform my talk in Canterbury city centre. This is not uncommon. On warm summer days, there often to be found one or two individuals doing this, usually on a religious theme. Canterbury is something of a tourist trap, so there are usually plenty of people milling around with nothing much to do.
6. Mail-outs to groups
To advertise my talks, I shall mail local groups. I shall include copies of the Budgeting Guide and/or DVD, depending on the nature of the group. Even if this does not result in a booking at least someone in the group will hear about the MRP.
7. Letters to local press
These are something that I shall write when the opportunity arises. I think that such letters need to be short, pithy and pertinent. The important thing is less what is said, but the fact that they are signed by a member of the Money Reform Party.
The Money As Debt DVD remains a useful tool in our tool-box, but it needs to be used judiciously. To this end, I shall be making copies available to members of the Party for £1 each when they are ordered in batches of 10 or more. This is effectively cost price. I shall not be sending out any more free ones ‘on spec’ as I have done, so do not need the funding arrangements for Operation Money As Debt, which is effectively ended, although copies will still be available to non-members at £5 each.
The Aim of Campaign 2009
My aim for Campaign 2009 (Canterbury) is that, by the next general election, everyone who lives in the Canterbury constituency will have heard of the Money Reform Party and will have an idea of our policy, or at least regard us (that is me) as sound individuals who they might like to support (in the absence of clear policies promoted by the main parties). I hope also to have some idea of the level of support and whether or not it is worthwhile standing at the next general election.
My hope is that my lead will be followed by sufficient other Party members that Campaign 2009 will truly be a national campaign and not merely confined to this one corner of Kent.
With the cost of printing the Guide, the leaflets, postage and travelling about, I expect to spend about £500 on this campaign. If I decide to stand for election, I shall expect to spend another £1,500 (£500 for the deposit, £1000 for enough leaflets for the Royal Mail free delivery).
I think that a worthwhile campaign could be conducted for as little as £100 (a few dozen copies of the Guide judiciously distributed), and remember that the more you put into a campaign the more likely you are to attract new members and/or supporters in your area to assist you. Your local credit union or CAB might even be willing to buy some copies of the Guide for their own purposes.
Fund for Campaign 2009
I shall be funding my own campaigning out of my own pocket. The money that I receive for future DVD sales will simply go towards buying the next batch. Thereafter, at cost price (to party members), selling DVDs will not bring any income to the Party.
Those who want to contribute financially to the Campaign can contribute to a Fund, which will be available to those members who want to help Campaign 2009 in their locality, but are a bit short of funds. I shall administer this fund and try and distribute it fairly (I shall work how when I need to.) Naturally, any informal arrangements between members and/or supporters are entirely acceptable.
Life membership of the Party is just £1. The idea is that members spend their own money campaigning in their own way. I do not know how much membership of other parties costs, but I think that an annual expenditure by Party members on their own efforts of at least £50 is reasonable (that’s less than £1 per week).
If, as I hope, this Campaign raises the profile of the Party, we shall have to be scrupulous in reporting our income and costs to the Electoral Commission. If you spend about £50 or more, say on a batch of leaflets or Guides, let me know, then I can put it through the books as both an Income (donation) and Expenditure (printing). This applies whether it is your own money or a donation from someone else.
Locating your chosen constituency
To find out the extent of your chosen constituency, there is a useful website called www.election-maps.co.uk, run by the Ordnance Survey which shows the geographical boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies (and other election areas).
The ideas listed above are just my ideas for promoting money reform. Other members might have other ideas, and I would be glad to hear them and share them. Just remember that they have to be cost-effective and they need to be legal, moral and factual.
We are a very small Party, but that does not mean that we are a fringe element within society. We need to show that our ideas are right in centre of popular views on the need for fairness and stability within the economy.
I remind members that any association with extreme and unpalatable political ideas of either the left or right automatically disbars an individual from membership of the Party.
Concerning CAMPAIGN 2009, commence with the ‘credit crunch’, connect it with common community concerns, and continue with concise, conservative communications.
The next couple of years could prove to be very historic ones with regard to the British economy, we need to get ourselves into the forefront of public awareness.