On this page you will find some important principles for Liberal Democrat volunteers to follow during the ongoing COVID19 situation in relation to party activity, and the latest advice specifically for England, Scotland and Wales.
This advice has been drawn up in consultation with ALDC, the Lib Dem Group on the LGA and the relevant State Parties.
It is being updated regularly in light of changing circumstances and was most recently updated on 11 February, following updated information from the Government.
It’s confirmed – 6th May will be Polling Day
The UK Government has now officially confirmed that elections are going ahead in England, and the Police & Crime Commissioner elections are going ahead in Wales, on Thursday 6th May, and published its election delivery plan. We expect the Scottish and Welsh devolved Governments to do the same.
We now need to prepare for these elections as we usually would at this point in any year. Any failure to prepare will help our opponents.
Continue to engage with residents in your area
With elections scheduled to take place in May, and with elected public officials having a duty to continue to serve their communities, our local teams should be engaging with residents in their local areas as much as possible.
You should feel able to engage proactively with residents in the following ways:-
Local teams should set up Connect VPBs (virtual phone banks) for residents in their local area. Volunteers should be encouraged to make as many calls to residents as possible. As always, please respect TPS and GDPR requirements.
Local teams should be running proactive online advertising campaigns seeking to engage local residents with relevant surveys, petitions etc.
Local teams should be sending out regular emails to their email lists and seeking to build these lists by asking for email addresses on the phone as well as through online surveys and petitions.
Training on how to campaign effectively online is available from LDHQ and ALDC.
The World Health Organisation has concluded that there is very little risk of spreading the virus on paper. Distribution of mail by post, delivery of parcels and online shopping, and home delivery of daily newspapers continues.
Paid delivery options
The Royal Mail Door to Door service provides delivery of unaddressed literature by postcode sector. LDHQ is offering regular bulk deal options and can help guide local teams through the process.
Many local paid delivery companies are still operating and should be used where found to be reliable.
For addressed items, mailing houses are still operational and can be used. There are a number of postage fulfilment options available, approved suppliers are listed here.
Voluntary delivery options
The current lockdown guidance and legislation has an exception for people to leave their home to provide voluntary services that cannot reasonably be undertaken from home (see here).
In order to provide clear, legal guidance to activists on what this means in practice, the party has taken independent legal advice and confirmed the legal position with lawyers from the Police’s Operation Talla (which coordinates Covid policing in the UK). This confirms that:
For the [volunteer] exception to be available, it would need to be established that it was reasonably necessary for the volunteer to leave home in order to achieve the outcome intended by delivery of the leaflets and that it was not reasonably possible for that outcome to be achieved from home.
Clearly this needs to be assessed on a case by case basis. We have therefore issued local parties with a flow chart to help them make an assessment locally as to whether or not delivery of leaflets is permissible in their particular local circumstances.
Anyone delivering literature must take suitable precautions. Wear a mask during delivery, use hand sanitiser before and after delivering, avoid any small enclosed spaces, such as within some blocks of flats, and avoid coming into contact with any individual from outside your own household. Do not meet in groups of people from outside your household. If distributing leaflets to others, leave them packaged on doorsteps and not handed directly to someone.
We advise against door to door contact with voters unless it is as part of a coordinated attempt to offer help to those who may need it during lockdown. In these circumstances, read our full advice page here. We have based this advice on independent advice commissioned by the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Regulator. You can read their full report here.
Member engagement and party business
Local Parties should continue to hold meetings and social events, but hold them online and not in person.
An online video conferencing tool like Zoom is free for small-scale use.
For advice on online meetings and the opportunity to share best practice, please go to the Lib Dem Digital Campaigning Forum on Facebook.
Further guidance is available from LDHQ on how to conduct party meetings online. ALDC provides advice for Council Group Meetings.
Advice for elected representatives
Lib Dem elected representatives are known for being community champions who are proactive and visible all year round in their communities in the line of their work.
The lockdown regulations expressly permit people to leave home in the line of their work if it cannot be reasonably done from home.
Individual elected representatives should therefore make their own judgement on any activity that they feel to be an integral part of their work.
Respect our volunteers
Please remember - apart from paid staff, all party activity is voluntary. Volunteers should feel under no obligation to participate in any party activity if they feel it is not appropriate for them personally, and this should be respected by anyone organising such activity.
A range of “behind the scenes” administrative work for the party is available, for example helping enter data and database maintenance. Members can join our team of national data entry volunteers, focusing on entering marked registers, by emailing [email protected].
Always follow official Government and NHS advice
Please follow official NHS and Government advice at all times in relation to any party activity you may consider undertaking. Different regulations are now in place in England, Scotland and Wales. Please respect the rules in your nation. Relevant medical advice is as follows:
- Advice for England can be found here.
- Advice for Scotland can be found here.
- Advice for Wales can be found here.
Promote reputable and trusted sources of information
As trusted local campaigners, Liberal Democrats have a role in signposting official sources of advice and help, and promoting strong safeguards within community organisations. Please ensure we are only pointing people to trusted and reliable official advice. We have designed a separate online resource (libdems.org.uk/coronavirus) that is designed to be shared with the general public as a resource bank for safe community organising.
Where to go for further advice
Remember to check the official advice for your nation, as guidance is different in England, Scotland and Wales and is subject to regular change.