Why change a winning formula?

Well, you could ask Tesco that question. Or Vince Vaughn. In both cases, it appears that the seeds of their downfall were sown in the supposed glory days, even though it may not have been obvious at the time. (Though with Vince Vaughn, anyone who sat through Couples Retreat might say that it was in […]

How far to the horizon?

There are, as usual, a whole load of useful insights in Tom Baker’s latest blogpost. But I was particularly struck by the first two lessons he offers about campaigning around aid, essentially that: Things can move very quickly, with key shifts happening from moment to moment Meaningful change tends to happen over the long term […]

It’s The Sun wot has lost it

The thing that strikes me most about the whole Page 3 thing last week is how ineptly The Sun has handled it. The ‘Check ‘Em Tuesday’ debacle was an earlier sign of wrong-footedness. And now this (archetypally-unThatcherite) U-turn. Ditching Page 3 and then bringing it back is surely not about The Sun’s “sense of mischief”. It looks much […]

Succeeding by failing

I was at an NPC-hosted debate about campaigning this week where somebody cited No More Page 3 as an example of a successful combined online-and-offline campaign. In response, another panel member pointed out that Page 3 is still there, and so logically the campaign should not be claimed as a success. How long Page 3 […]

One glance from your direction and the government will fall

We all preferred Heaven 17 at the time – because they were supposedly the credible band – but these days I’d far rather listen to ‘Dare’.* This is a slightly roundabout (and needlessly esoteric) way of saying that our understanding of value shifts over time. We might think we have it nailed down, but it […]

Theories of change vs dart throwing chimps

I wouldn’t ideally call it a ‘theory of change’, but I think it can be really helpful to develop – at an organisational level – a shared view of how change happens, the power dynamics at play, and the best ways to intervene. The absence of this sort of analysis can be problematic for many […]

New models of Activism

This is a guest post by Natasha Adams, Activism Officer at ActionAid UK I’m a bit of a campaign geek. I’ve been involved in campaigning and activism ‘for fun’ pretty much my whole life, and professionally since 2008. I love this stuff. So I was really pleased at the amazing turnout and great learning exchanges […]

To create a republic of virtue you need a big (and flexible) tent

One thing about Robespierre was that he wasn’t really into big tent politics. By 1793, Robespierre and his allies were in the ascendent, flanked by the more radical/rapid Hébertists and the more moderate Dantonists. This governing coalition was already on the narrow side, after a succession of coups and purges. But it proved an uneasy […]

Happy Hat Land vs the Elephant & Castle roundabout

When my daughter was little, she was in a play called ‘Happy Hat Land’. Its moral was that ‘sharing can be fun’. Unfortunately, the lesson she took from it at the time was more along the lines that sharing is a bit rubbish. (The reasons for this are a bit complicated but revolve around the […]

Painted Ships, on the move

For months now, I’ve been the Ancient Mariner, stopping various people, who probably generally have better places to be, and recounting a strange and sad story. My tale is that NGOs are in the wrong campaigning space. And also that, far from trying to escape these tyrannous waters, many are languishing there, inert, like painted […]

Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser

  The kid spread his hand and then began to blush But his face turned pale when he saw my queen-high flush   T Bone Walker there, describing how to play a winning hand of poker. Though in fact (a) he’s not actually talking about poker and (b) it’s rarely that simple. According to Nate […]

Syria & Shelley

A few people in my twitter timeline last night were suggesting that the vote in parliament rejecting military intervention in Syria showed a delayed influence of the march and protests against the launch of the Iraq war ten years ago. It’s not straightforward to see a direct connection, but clearly the shadow of Iraq fell […]

Keith Joseph smiles and a baby cries

NGOs typically get to campaigning through something like the following evolution: They may start by providing some kind of programme or service, in response to an identified need. They then identify common problems or barriers to effective delivery and so pull together that evidence and use it as a basis for lobbying. Many move beyond discrete […]

Get on the good foot

I was fortunate to be at a roundtable discussion earlier this week at which MPs Stella Creasy and (briefly) Stephen Doughty shared some thoughts about being lobbied and engaged in campaigns, opening up a discussion with a diverse group of campaigners from across the sector. The way it was described, for an MP, being the […]

We have a world to win

Here are two datasets from the British Social Attitudes surveys:    They show very similar trendlines. But reflecting starkly different trends. The blue line shows the strong move since the 1980s towards wider public acceptance of same sex relationships. The red dotted line indicates how attitudes to welfare recipients have – over the same period […]