How to run the European Parliament

 

How to run the European Parliament by Mariyln Political

 

This concise 93 page pamphlet book is well worth reading. It will take you an hour. It is full of useful gems.

 

It’s a practical how to get ahead as a MEP guidebook. The firm behind it, http://www.marilynpolitical.com/,  have packed a lot of useful information in.

 

Even if you don’t want to be a MEP, it’s useful to read to better understand how successful MEPs work. I was lucky to work for two good British Labour MEPs in my late 20s. On every page, I came across passages that resonated with me.

 

10 things I liked

 

Everybody who reads this book will come away with different key insights. Here is my top 10:

 

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  1. Showing expertise. Show this by producing free newsletters and briefing notes.

 

  1. Answer emails from constituents within 24 hours.

 

  1. Fight for your vision, but avoid wars you cannot win.

 

  1. Be faster than everyone else. Be the 1st to present and push for compromises. Steer the debate.

 

  1. Don’t leave any votes to chance.

 

  1. Regularly lay down short and long-term media action plans.

 

  1. The news interviews boil down to 10 second sound bites.

 

  1. Hire good people or better people who know more than you.

 

  1. Don’t forget back home

 

  1. Get re-elected – get top on your Party’s list – your constituents won’t vote for your work in Brussels.

Do you sound like a tobacco lobbyist?

Do the Words Give the Game Away

I have just re-read Christopher Buckley’s “Thank you for Smoking” and completed “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Dr.  Siddhartha Mukherjee Pulwitzer, who is an oncologist (a doctor of Cancer).

I read Dr.  Siddhartha Mukherjee Pulwitzer Prize winning book because I wanted to better understand what caused my cancer. The book reads more like a thriller. I am glad I read it after my treatment.

I re-read the Christopher Buckley’s fictional story of Nick Naylor,  chief spokesperson for Academy of Tobacco Studies, because the book is very funny.

But, both books converge on the use of language by lobbyists in defending their clients’ interests.

Nick Naylor responding to a report in the The New England Journal of Medicine  repeats the tell tale lines:

  • Where is the data
  • This was a double-blind study?
  • And how big was the control group?

“Buerger’s diseas has only recently been dianoses. Ut has a complex, indeed, extremleu complex pathology. One of the more complexy pathologies in the filed of circulatory medine… With all respect, I think further study is warranted before science goes looking, noose in hand, to lynch the usual suspects”

Source Thank you for smoking, pages 20-21.

 

Is this Made Up

Whilst Nick Naylor’s  language may seem made up, it is likely to been cut and paste from the tobacco industry.

In the “History of Cancer” the work of Clarence Little, from the Council of Tobacco Research, comes up.  The language Nick Naylor uses to defend tobacco has been used for decades.
Umbrellas Don’t Cause Rain
I have quoted the following section direct from the History of Cancer. The words stand by themselves.
“Little was a strong proponent of the theory that all diseases, including cancer, were essentially hereditary, and that these illnesses, in a form of medical ethnic-cleansing, would eventually carry away those with such predispositions, leaving a genetically enriched population resistant to diseases.
This notion—call it eugenics lite—was equally applied to lung cancer, which he also considered principally the product of a genetic aberration
Smoking, Little argued, merely unveiled that inherent aberration, causing that bad germ to emerge
and unfold in a human body.
Blaming cigarettes for lung cancer, then, was like blaming umbrellas for bringing on the rain.
A correlation, Little insisted, could not be equated with cause.
How could scientists so easily conflate a mere confluence of two events—smoking and lung cancer—with a causal relationship?
Persuading mice to chain-smoke was obviously unlikely to succeed.
1. It was strong: the increased risk of cancer was nearly five- or tenfold in smokers.
2. It was consistent
3. It was specific: tobacco was linked to lung cancer—precisely the site where tobacco smoke enters the body.
4. It was temporal: Doll and Hill had found that the longer one smoked, the greater the increase in risk.
5. It possessed a “biological gradient”: the more one smoked in quantity, the greater the risk for lung cancer.
6. It was plausible: a mechanistic link between an inhaled carcinogen and a malignant change in the lung was not implausible. It was coherent; it was backed by experimental evidence
Can you not infer causality by using that list of criteria?”
Smoking Does Not Harm Mice
What about the mice? A recurring theme in the History of Cancer is  whether you need animal testing to establish causality? Some cancers, like asbestos, even tobacco smoke, the most common human carcinogen, does not easily induce lung cancer in mice. Bruce Ames’s bacterial test does not register asbestos as a mutagen. The tobacco  made great play that mice found it hard to get lung  cancer.

 

Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything (2016)

Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything by Becky Bond, Zack Exley

Hove did Senator Bernie Sanders, a self declared left wing political activist, nearly win the Democratic Party nomination for Presidential Candidate.

Two key staffers lift up the bonnet and give you a glimpse of how it nearly happened.

He took on Hilary Clinton and nearly won. The establishment in the Democratic Party had a fright.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-12-31-23

 

 

How he did it shows you how technology offers any cause, with enough passionate volunteers, the way to mount very powerful campaigns quickly and effectively.

You can take many things away from this book. In this review I touch on three.

Saul Alinsky for the 21st Century

First, this book is a homage to Saul Alinsky and his 1971 classic “Rules for Radicals”. This is the updated version for the 21st century.

The Power of Volunteers

Second, it shows how a volunteer based organization can be harnessed to run a mass campaign.

Volunteers are your most powerful voices. The authors wonder aloud at the end that if they had empowered their volunteers earlier on and more they could have done far better.

As the authors put it “No revolution has ever been launched with paid mercenaries and a branding agency”. I hate to admit it, it is true.

Tapping into the genuine passion of volunteers to deliver the campaign is the key lesson from the book.

How Software can help you speak with people 

Third, chapter 21 – Put Consumer Software at the Center – gives an insight into the technology the campaign used. It is being worth buying the book alone for this chapter.

They show how technology and volunteers can raise large sums of money from small donations. Sanders raised $234.3 million from 2.8 million individual small donations.

The campaign used software, adapted it with coders, and unleashed it.  The on the shelf software covered:

  • peer to peer texting – com
  • Google docs
  • Webcast events
  • virtual call center software solution marketed largely to debt collectors
  • CRM software – Customer Relationship Management

This array of software helped keep email to a minimum. Email is the curse of any campaign or organization. It is second only to to the evils of powerpoint.

 

Speak to People 

But, in this campaign technology was used to help people to meet and speak with people. As the authors put it “Getting on the phone is a skill that’s mostly missing from the digital organizer’s repertoire even as phone technology is being revolutionized by new tools and opportunities in the era of big organizing”.

They used technology to make it easier for volunteers to speak over the phone or in person to voters. Most technologists think that email/tweets/Facebook likes somehow lead to people acting. They don’t. Technology is a means for pre-framing, framing, and speaking to real living people via the wonder of the spoken word. Making that connection is usually the missing link. Sanders campaign realized winning needs people to speak to people.

Making the Revolution Easier

The authors are now helping other progressive causes use these techniques to make the revolution easier to bring about – you can find out more http://www.rulesforrevolutionaries.org/the-rules/

If your lobbyist does not know Cialdini, walk away

There are a few books your lobbyist will have read. If they have not, my advice, turn around around and walk out the door.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence and Pre-Suasion should be well thumbed on your lobbyist’s bookshelf.

 

 

Modelling the best 

Lobbyists jobs amounts to helping their clients influence policy and law makers.  I have seen clients and lobbyists inadvertently persuade policy and law makers to act against their interests. Cialdini offers up some tips and techniques so they act in your favour.

Maybe a NLP master modeler will get around to modelling the best lobbyists, campaigners and communicators. I guess there must be books on lawyers. Whoever does it, will have a bestseller.

In Pre-Suasion Cialdini identifies what savvy communicators do before delivering a message to get it accepted.

 

Influence

In his first book, Influence, Cialdini identified 6 ways to have your message accepted. He called them “weapons of influences”, namely:

 

  • Reciprocation

 

  • Commitment and Consistency

 

  • Social Proof

 

  • Liking

 

  • Authority

 

  • Scarcity

 

From this book, you learn the best way for someone to take up your case, involves getting a third party, a peer, who they respect, to put forward your case, or at least your mentioning as supporting your position.

Another, is the importance of commitment and consistency. Establishing and maintaining your credentials takes a lot of time and effort. Any deviation, or returning to negatively perceived type, has you returning to the start.

 

Pre-Suasion

In Pre-Suasion, Cialdini mind bombs the reader again with powerful tips and techniques. The book is about how “communicators can elevate their success by knowing what to say or do just before an appeal.”

He observes that “highest achievers spend more time crafting what they did and said before making a request. Set about their mission as skilled gardeners who should know that even the finest seeds will not take root in stony soil or bare fullest fruit in poorly prepared ground.” This is where most effort should go, preparing the ground. Few people do.

Caldinin observes that “every profession thinks persuasion works differently in their field.” He disagrees and notes the “process of persuasion is governed by psychological laws, which means that similar procedures can produce similar results over a wide range of situations.”

 

Use the Media

Pre-focusing attention on the issue makes people more receptive to it. Raising the issue in the press before you raise the issue make people more receptive to it. I remember raising an issue with politicians and officials on an issue of public health and animal conservation. Their interest and appetite to act was zero. A steady stream of press attention, cumlulimiating in a Sunday Times story, had my phone on Monday morning ringing off the hook, and offers of help and action. Pre-focusing helps over-estimate the importance of the issue for observers. It is a vital instrument for any campaign.

 

Pre-suasion is not conversion

There is a challenge in using these techniques. The act of pre-suasion is about focusing on who you are trying to influence, it is not about you. You are looking to devise a scenario where that someone will support you. What makes them support you may not be the reasons why you want them to.  I have worked to bring attention to an issue to a very small and targeted group of politicians through the press and personal meetings that face the appearance that one issue was of singular importance to that small group of politicians. When a politician reads his name in their morning newspaper of choice, has his wife and friends raise the issue with him over dinner and at the weekend, they start to think this issue is of genuine importance. They start to become more receptive to your case.

Persuasion, at least in securing votes, is not about converting someone to your position, it is just getting them to support your position for that one vote.

A lot of people have a hard time with this. Making someone receptive to your position is about bringing them on board by pre-suading them with ideas that work for them, and not necessarily that work for you. All too often, campaigns, lobbyists and clients only want to win on their terms. Those who do that all too often just loose. I’ve never been in the business of conversion and will take the votes whenever I get them.

Publicity – using it

Skilled campaigners understand that a “communicator who can get an audience to focus on the key element of a key message preloaded with importance”. They work to set the agenda. The media help in this as they bring to peoples’ attention what to think about.

Caldinin points out how Hollywood celebrities crave publicity, even if it is not good publicity. He writes “publicity of any sort spares them worst of all fates because it brings them attention; raw attention anoints them with presumed importance.”

Don’t use this if you have a crap case

There are some health warnings to using these idea. Using these subtle tactics have limits.

First, “any practice that pulls attention to an idea will be successful only when the idea has merit.”

Second, “if the arguments and evidence supporting it are seen as meritless by an audience, the directed attention to the bad idea won’t make it any more persuasive.”

Third, “if anything, the tactic might well backfire”.