Campaigning for change: My Labour Party internship

John is a final year mathematics student at the University of Warwick, he participated in our 2023 Labour Party Summer Internship. He is interested in campaigning and organising and has recently started his role as a campaign manager for the local elections alongside his studies.

Being part of the first ever, Patchwork-lead, Labour Party Summer Internship was a truly unique and impactful experience. Having been to London only a handful of times and having never worked for a political organisation before meant that entering Labour Party HQ for the first time was a daunting but thrilling experience. 

At this point, I had very little knowledge of what lay in the 6 weeks ahead and what opportunities and experiences this internship would offer me. Whilst waiting on the reception sofas for my fellow interns to arrive, I was left pondering what I wanted to get out of this internship. I settled on a few key goals; firstly, I wanted to see and learn more about the inner workings of Parliament and the Labour Party, secondly, I wanted to develop my skills as a campaigner and activist and learn the best ways in which I could help the Labour Party win the next general election. 

All of these goals and more were met through a range of thrilling experiences including; shadowing various departments in Labour HQ, sitting in the speaker’s gallery to watch PMQs, a day working with Angela Rayner, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and finally a week spent in Scotland campaigning in the Rutherglen by-election.

The Internship itself

Each of the six weeks were broken down and offered myself and my fellow interns opportunities to experience different parts of the Party, Parliament and campaigns. The weeks were supplemented with a Friday ‘skills’ session with the Patchwork Foundation, these were excellent and gave me an opportunity to reflect on the week, think about what I had learned and prepare for the week ahead. These sessions covered pivotal topics such as public speaking and leadership which are vital skills that I have used constantly in my new role as a campaign manager – knowing how to best take charge of situations and coordinate volunteers requires good leadership and communication and using these skills properly means you get the most out of your volunteers. These sessions were also beneficial as they gave me an opportunity to relax and bond with my fellow interns. 

We started working with the Digital and Communications department in HQ, where I was able to support on strategy tasks and learned to use the HQ digital systems. I was also able to assist with Party advertisements and support the market development. Being at the centre of the Labour Party’s communications gave me invaluable skills regarding online campaigning and the power of videos, graphics and messages to put across the Party’s stance and influence voters. I’ve found this incredibly useful working in my current role as a campaign manager – knowing how to best put across your message to the electorate in the form of graphics, videos and surveys and what tools you can use to best mobilise local volunteers.

In our third week, we travelled up to the regional office in Newcastle, where we worked with the membership and conference teams. I was able to assist with data management and support membership development whilst also supporting the development of the Labour Party Annual Conference 2023. This was a superb insight into how the party’s membership system works and the scale of the operation that was being undertaken to plan the Party’s annual conference. 

We then travelled back down to the HQ in London and began working with the Policy department. I personally worked with the international department and was given a view into the Party’s alliances with other left of centre parties across Europe. This was also the stage of the internship where I was lucky enough to spend a day with Angela Rayner, working with her team in Parliament and helping them digest her new brief as Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. I was also fortunate enough to attend the first session back after summer recess of PMQs. Both of these opportunities gave real insight into the workings of Parliament and were opportunities that I would have never had without this internship. 

Campaigning in Scotland

A highlight of this internship for me personally was my final week on the internship programme, where I had the opportunity to campaign in the Rutherglen by-election for now Labour MP Michael Shanks. We worked with senior party organisers who talked us through the history of the Labour Party and how they’ve campaigned at previous elections. They offered insight based upon real experiences as to what works and what has failed in past campaigns and showed us the strategy for the Rutherglen campaign and what messages were being delivered to different voters. 

This was incredibly useful in developing my understanding of election strategy, what messages resonate with voters, how to mobilise activists and supporters and how to have persuasive conversations with people about their voter intention. 

We then were given the opportunity to go and campaign ourselves. We first phonebanked constituents; this involved using the Labour Party’s system called ‘dialogue’, which connects you to voters whom you can call and speak to about their issues, concerns and voting intention. This was a refreshing opportunity to speak to people who don’t necessarily have the same political views as you and have constructive conversations and what the candidate or party could offer them. This has helped me massively in my current role. As a campaign manager, it is important that I can communicate well with voters on behalf of my candidate so speaking to people who have varying sets of views on a variety of issues was great preparation for this.

Finally, we ventured out onto the campaign trail to go ‘door knocking’, which involves knocking on a constituents’ door and having a similar conversation with them to the ones we were having on the phone. We were also joined by the candidate, Michael Shanks MP, and Anas Sarwar MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, this was a great opportunity to hear their insight into how the campaign was going and hear the passion with which they spoke about the opportunity Labour could offer Rutherglen and Scotland as a whole. 

Reflecting on this week in Scotland I feel it was one of the most beneficial elements of the internship. Working with Labour Party organisers was an excellent source of first hand information about how to run campaigns. Hearing their insights into how best speak to voters on the door and how to run an election day campaign have given me skills that have directly fed into my now role as a campaign manager ahead of the local elections in May 2024 and helped me understand what the best ways were for me to contribute to making the next government a Labour one.  

My Advice

To anyone considering applying for this internship I would say ‘Go for it!’. As one Labour Party staff member said to me, this internship really is the ‘crème de la crème’ of political internships. 

This internship has deepened my passion for politics and furthered my desire to #GetInvolved in the political arena. It has led to some amazing opportunities, including being a part of Sadiq Khan’s campaign launch to be re-elected as Mayor of London and being the campaign manager of a local election candidate in Coventry.

I am envious of those of you thinking about applying for this internship this summer, its incredible opportunities will only be heightened given we are at such a key time in the political calendar. Anything could happen, who knows, you may even be involved in a general election campaign.


Applications for our Labour Party internship are now open and you have until 9am, Monday 13th May to apply. Find out more and apply here.