2008 has already been an eventful year for our activists, and we’re only 3 weeks in! We’ve had our Norfolk campaigners highlight the disgraceful behaviour of North Norfolk District Council sending armies of bailiffs to claim the property from those taxpayers who can’t pay their council tax. In fact we’ve got a rolling campaign in Norfolk with our activists writing numerous letters to the local papers and experienced TPA activist Tony Callaghan regularly on BBC Radio Norfolk putting the case for lower taxes.
In Surrey our TPA branch met with Surrey County Council this week to recommend freezing the Surrey County Council Tax precept, marking another milestone for our grassroots campaigns. Our Norfolk TPA branch is planning to extend the same offer to Norfolk County Council to meet with them and help them to lower council tax. Very quickly our campaign has moved on from agitation and recruitment to involving our activists in the politics of securing lower taxes.
So, as a regular feature every Friday, I will upload blogs to the website that will go to form our rolling TPA Activist Guide. Its aim is to arm you with the skills, knowledge and inspiration to go out and campaign, to maximise the valuable time you give to the TPA. If there are any areas of campaigning you would like help and advice on, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will include it in the activist guide in future weeks.
I want to use this first blog to explain the model we used to turn a story hiding deep in the BBC website into a county-wide story that TPA activists are continuously being asked to comment on in the media. As it worked so well, I’d like to explain to our activists how such a simple method can yield amazing results. Have a read to know how you can do your bit, with your PC or telephone, to make the difference to our campaign.
Part 1: Turning news into a story:
1. If you see a story you feel has the potential to become a bigger issue, such as a council trying to bury bad news or a stealth tax increase, then you should let me know ASAP. (Please don’t waste our time with conspiracy theories. If you think the police are out to get you – call Amnesty International.) If, on the other hand you see a story of government abusing its power over taxpayers, taxing and regulating us more and more, please contact me by email or on 0203 051 8144.
2. I will then write a blog about the story. Previously our blogs have been picked up by regional newspapers, such as the Norfolk story I mentioned earlier.
3. Within the hour I will have written the blog and emailed it to all our activists in the area. Then it’s your opportunity to make the issue a story.
4. Call your local BBC and commercial radio station news desks and even local TV to bring their attention to the story. (If you have any trouble finding their contact details, we can help you with them) Email our blog to the news desks too, as proof that we as the 18,000-strong TPA are campaigning on it. Local media like hearing from members of the public - like you - who are getting involved in the political system. Don't be intimidated, your call or email could make all the difference. This is exactly what our Norfolk Activists did and look how successful they have been!
5. If you are successful and the media want to interview someone from the TPA, then please call us on 0203 051 8144 so we can provide a spokesman and any further background the journalist might want.
6. By now, as a result of your research and lobbying we have together turned a rather obscure news story into a media campaign hit, putting forward yet more reasons why this country needs lower taxes. As a result of your efforts, more people will have heard of the TPA and joined the campaign. This is how we can build that majority for lower taxes, how you can build our grassroots membership into a formidable campaigning force.
Your role is vital in lobbying to highlight our stance for lower taxes in the media. We are a grassroots campaign group, which means it’s your campaign. This model shows how you can make all the difference. It’s worked for us before, and with your help we can put forward even more arguments for lower taxes.