All entries for Saturday 09 February 2008

February 09, 2008

How to win the Warwick Saab elections

In an attempt to seem vaguely relevent and justify this still being a Warwick Blog despite me graduating two years ago, I figured I’d talk about the Union Saabatical Officer elections. Ian has a nice summary here and here but I want to offer something else: a guide on winning.

I’d intended to write this before the candidate nomination stuff started in an attempt to get a group of people to follow it and proove it works, but not being a student anymore I forgot when they started entirely. So now it’s more of a post-morten “here’s what you should have done” sort of thing.

Two caveats: firstly this isn’t foolproof, you still need to be somewhat appealing to the voters, and not a big idiot. Unless you’re running for the sports officer post, in which case I’m told that’s a plus (that and flashing your tits to society execs in exchange for endorsements apparently, he says making an entirely out of date reference).
Secondly I don’t think this breaks any electoral rules but there’s a chance it does as I really can’t be arsed to read them all. However it’s presented as working within the framework of the current system, if it’s not permitted to do it that way it can also be done fairly easily and to only a slightly reduced effect outside of it. I’ll explain that later.

So what is the key? The party system.

Believe it or not, the candidates you vote for in the elections are all members of certain parties. You may have spotted this with the Lib Dem or Tory candidates (but no-one is going to vote for nationally-affiliated groups, see “don’t be a big idiot” above) but all the other candidates belong to a party to. Except generally these are parties of one, named after thier campaign slogans, so to all intents and purposes, it’s an individual race.

Now, back to last year. Remember when the two brothers? Wasn’t that cool? And they had an advantage. Few people would vote for one and not the other as they were seen as an homogenous entity with shared values and policies and err…genes. The fact is that most students don’t care for lelecting by reading manifestos and voting on the basis of total policy, they’ll just vote for whoever impresses them when speaking to them at the start of lectures or doing kitchen tours or even has a really good poster. And the vast majority will also not see more than 3 or 4 of these covering only 2 or 3 different posts. But once you’re in the voting system to vote for the one or two people you like, you may as well throw some votes out at the rest while you’re there, at least that’s what the Union keep telling you “Vote! Doesn’t matter who for just Vote!” and only arseholes like me vote for RON.

So what is my point? Well last year the brothers had an advantage, because if one of them impressed someone with a talk or whatever, if that person wasn’t particulary woo-ed by any candidate for the other position, they’d vote for the other brother by default.

The way to win this election therefore, would be to do this, but writ large. Find 3-4 other people that you get along with and that want the job, and forge alliances. People already do this. During those brief stumps before lectures you’ll remember many of the candidates at the end will say “and for person X for position Y to, they’re really good” but you never remember the name so it’s pointless. So what we do is formalise this. Cover four or five positions and run as a party. Have one slogan for everyone, and a couple of major policies that you can all get behind (a real freshers week and cheaper drinks are often good policies that no-one expects you to keep). That single slogan is your party, those policies are what your publicity, talks etc focus on. And crucially you focus on promoting the party, the slogan, the policies, rather than yourself. Make sure all your posters are thematically simmilar, they can have individual faces on, even have a few specific policies related to that position (and obviously, you’ll need some decent ones for the manifesto, to attract those that actually care enough to read them and vote on that basis) but keep the border the same, the font the same, the colour scheme the same and have that single slogan displayed prominently.

What you’ve just done is quintupled the amount of campaigning each member of the 5-person party gets. You’ll be the most noticable, you can cover everything and be everywhere, because you’re each supporting each other. And with such a magnitude of advantage in publicity, you can’t possibly lose (though if one of your members is outted as a kiddie-fiddler, you might have problems. If on the other hand they shag the leader of the cheerleading squad, you all benefit. Especially if they’re female).

As I said, there’s something of a caveat in that I don’t know if there’s a restriction on this. I don’t know if running as a party introduces limitations or reduces the amout of publicity you’re allowed or anything like that. If it does, the solution is pretty easy – run individually but homogenise your slogan/party name with a good word. For example “Freedom for societies”, “Freedom for sports”, “Freedom for commercial development”... well you get the idea. And keep the posters consistent in style and so on, and run a virtual party that isn’t really one so isn’t subject to those rules.

So there you go. That’s how to win a Warwick Saab election. Easy. All the candidates would be kicking themselves now, if they weren’t already drunk.

And best of luck to the RAW team covering the election results tonight, you guys have quite a legacy to live up to but I’m sure you’ll manage it.

Also are we letting The Boar cover elections yet?


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