Machine? It was just us volunteers

Machine? It was just us volunteers
Bristol Post 31/05/16

In a Post article “George Ferguson: I would be surprised if I win Bristol mayoral election” 6/5/16) the former mayor complained: “I have had the huge Labour juggernaut to deal with.”

I fell about laughing when I read that quote because on that particular day the “Labour Juggernaut” described consisted solely of myself as election agent and our PCC candidate, Kerry Barker, at the declaration in Bath.

Mr Ferguson now rails that “Independents won’t beat party machine again” (BP 24/5/16).

Let me explain what he means.


A “party machine” is a large collection of volunteers who give up their weekends and evenings for several months to deliver as many leaflets and knock on as many doors as possible.

Leaflets are written by the same volunteers and paid for out of membership subscriptions and personal donations.

Many candidates use half of their annual holiday allowance to work on the campaign full-time for the final two weeks.

People join a party because they share common values and understand the need for teamwork.

Voters expect certain things when they choose between Labour, Tory or Liberal. With an Independent, who knows what you are going to get? A politician with no roots.

I often see bright new members get selected for a ward and expect ‘the party machine’ to crank in to gear and win it for them.

That’s the problem with machines though: you have to build them and maintain them.

It’s a lot more reliable to do this when you are inspired by policies and not a personality.

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