Writing an effective manifesto

What is a manifesto?

A manifesto is a publication issued by a political party before a General Election. It contains the set of policies that the party stands for and would wish to implement if elected to govern.

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Watch this video for an overview from the BBC:

This article outlines the following:

  1. Why have a manifesto?
  2. Content and structure
  3. Submitting your manifesto

 

Why have a manifesto?

The purpose of an election manifesto is to convey your:

  • Intent: What is the purpose of your campaign? What are your aims and policies?
  • Views: what are your beliefs?
  • Motivation: why are you running for this particular role?

A manifesto will help you spread your message as wide as possible so be clear on your intentions and ideas. This is your opportunity to inform the voter about you.

 

Content and structure 

You should ensure that the actual content of your manifesto is SMART:

  • Specific: what do you want to do?
  • Measurable: How will you know when you've achieved it?
  • Achievable: It it in your power to accomplish it?
  • Realistic: Can you realistically achieve it?
  • Time-bound: When exactly do you want to accomplish it by?

Using this approach means you are setting out your ideas and intentions in a well-presented clear manner, and students voting in the election will be more interested in how you will actually do and achieve the goals you are setting. Down the line, students will be able to hold you to account much easier as well.

The more non-specific you are, the lesser voters will make a connection with you and your ideas

Also ensure that what you write is factually correct and uses information you have been able to obtain in a legitmate way. Basing your ideas on hearsay will not help you further down the line. 

Equally, be creative! A manifesto can take the shape of many formats. Be bold yet be balanced. Using way too many words on your manifesto (or other campaign materials) may confuse voters. 

 

Importance of a manifesto

Most importantly you should consider the students you represent, after all, this is why you are running for election.

Remember, people’s experiences at University can vary because of social, cultural and other differences. So think about issues that will be common to everyone regardless of their background. A good starting point is the one thing you have in common: you are all at university to get a degree and further your education.  You can then start thinking about a broader range of issues that affect different people so always consider run ideas past specific groups if you’re unsure about something. Avoid making assumptions about what students different than you may need. A great way of doing this is to go along to student groups meetings, and ask them directly about what they’d like to change. 

Gather your aims not only from your own experience but consult with friends, peers, and others in the Imperial College community. In your role you represent student views, not solely your own

Familiarise yourself with the Union and College's structures, policies, constitution and the variety of strategies your work would feed into and influence. Reading any Imperial College and Imperial College Union policies and frameworks already in place will help you position your aims. Absorb as much information before you start pulling your ideas and aims together so set time aside to work on your manifesto. 

 

Ensuring your manifesto is inclusive 

Language matters so don't overcomplicate any marketing materials you produce. We have students from all over the world, make sure everyone can read and understand what your aims are. Ask peers to read over your manifesto to see if it makes sense to them, ask them to critique it.  Be careful in using slang, colloquial language or specific proverbs. 

Everyone interprets words differently

Consider the following when writing and distributing your manifesto:

  • Aim for simple, concise and straightforward language
  • Ensure the size of your font is adequate
  • Consider colour schemes and palettes, including the colour of any paper you may print on
  • Break up text into paragraphs

 

Choosing you photo

Particularly for full time positions: consider your choice of photo carefully; you can send out a strongly positive or negative message with the type of photo you use. Make sure you feature in it highly i.e. a group photo will confuse people because not all 18,000+ students know who you are. Choose a photo in which you feel you look friendly and approachable and that is high quality.

Needless to say that for many students, seeing your photo and manifesto online or on posters will be their first interaction and/or impression of you

If you choose to have specific artefacts or symbols in the photo that associate you with a particular group of people (such as Clubs, Societies or Projects, or Constituent Unions), then ensure you understand that is a conscious choice you need to make. This can equally encourage students to vote for you, or put them off. 

 

Guidence on what you can and can't include in your campaign materials can be found in the candidate pack under Rules & Regulations

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