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Tuesday 25th September 2012 | 10:51
The excellent Isabel Hardman at the Speccie's CoffeeHouse has got a nice scoop on a leaked document warning Nick Clegg that his party organisation is simply not upto scratch.
Isabel (lately of this parish) has posted HERE.
At our PolHome fringe meeting on the US elections the other night, our pollster Mark Gettleson wowed the audience with his presentation on how Obama is brilliant at compiling data on voters.
The largest team in the Obama campaign is its data and analytics team, with more than 300 staff working on it. The Lib Dems may have, er, one. And that one is not even a professional. Over in the States, this work is often contracted out to real pros who are seconded from Google and others who know this data stuff backwards.
But what may shock most Lib Dems here at conference is the fact that although the party has a brilliant new system of US-style data collection software (Voter Activation Network), it has virtually no data to put in it.
Labour and the Tories, meanwhile, have very old and clunky systems (Contact Creator and Voter Vault respectively) but have lots and lots of data. As one insider puts it, it's like the Lib Dems having a Ferrari with no petrol in the tank, while their opponents have Skodas that at least have super-grade fourstar in them.
Anyhoo, there is a bigger issue here, which is that the DPM's office are failing to get a grip on the crucial task of getting the party ready for the next election. The gripe is that anyone who is any good at modern methods of data and voter tracking is somehow mysteriously 'let go'. And that the leader's office allows people who are stuck in the 'leaflets are all' camp to run the show.
The stand-out graphic in Isabel's report* outlines the real problem for the Libs. It highlights that their data system has info on just 2% of voters. Whereas the voterfiles for Labour and the Tories are 'extensive'.
It is certainly a new twist on the 'Only the Lib Dems can Win Here!" mantra you see on leaflets...(Of course the claim is that the party lacks the money to simply by up emails or other data, but I'm told that the money would repay itself several times over).
The Lib Dems have no staff on analytics or targeting, and no staff on web or 'social integration'', the graphic reveals.
Nick Clegg is surrounded by excellent policy and press relations staff but party organisation is left to the amateurs, the charge goes. Let's see how he reacts.
*FOOTNOTE: We'd had a sniff of this leak too, but - dang- she beat us fair n square.
UDPATE: The LibDem Press Office has tweeted: "The Spectator document was written by a 21-year old Canadian student who was employed some time ago to set up a computer system."
A bit snarky that one. What if the 21-year-old was actually pretty good? And experienced?
The party also tweeted: "The Spectator document was neither commissioned nor used by the party. It hasn't played any part in any strategic discussion or decision."
I think that's the point. Why hasn't it played any part...?
10PM UPDATE: Here's a few facts ro rebut the Press Office rebuttal:
* The 21-year-old is in fact 23.
* Although young he had five years experience.
* His title at LDHQ was "Strategic Projects Adviser"
* He made a lot of these presentations to LDHQ Directors, MPs and SPADs in DPM's Office
* The presentations were done as part of his job, so it is inaccurate to say they were not commissioned by the party.
* The staffer previously worked for the Leader of the Opposition in Canada. He was trained by the Obama campaign, and was one of the few non-Americans to attend one of the Official Presidential Inaugural Balls on Inauguration Day when Barack Obama became President. Part of the reason he was hired at LDHQ was because of his Obama connections
* He was a national administrator of the same VAN voter data system when
he helped import and customise it to the Canadian political system (the
first time it went outside the USA)
* The “computer system” referred to was actually administering/re-designing the party’s national data infrastructure (i.e. VAN/Connect) and was not basic tech stuff
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