Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Internet Election 2010 Discussion - Feedback

Further to my last posting, the evening was indeed successful, entertaining, and informative, although I wonder if it told us anything new. Most of the panel agreed that the idea of blogging and twitter being a major force in the next general election campaign must be put in perspective. People said similar things about the Internet in general in 1997 and nothing beats actually meeting voters and knocking on doors. That said the pros and cons of blogging/twittering during a general election campaign where discussed in depth.

Tom Harris argued that the use of broadband in most homes means that this will be the first election where rebuttals by political parties will be more instant. It's not ideal to look to the US, as they are more adept with on-line campaigning and it will take years to catch up with them.

Catherine Mayer argued that no one seems to have fully tapped onto the full campaigning potential of Twitter. I can see her point, but she clearly hasn't felt the impact of Bevanite Ellie

Jo Swinson made a valid point about the dangers of campaign blogging. She mentioned how a moment of candour by the Liberal Democrat Candidate in the 2004 Hartlepool by-election caused a no of problems for the Lib Dems

Iain Dale struck a similar note when he mentioned that partisan bloggers will play it safe at the next election. There is much to play for where Labour and the Conservatives are concerned and no one wants to rock the boat. Iain also pointed out that the under 25's tend to follow TV and online news and political affairs than reading newspapers. Like Tom, Iain also argued that we will never be like the US in using the Internet, but we can learn much from them.

Paul Waugh argued that there was still a "Command and Control" tendency from political parties in this regard, but that blogging and twittering can be a great resource for local campaigns as they tend to fire people's imagination. A point I agree with and would expand on by saying that political online campaigning will only really take off once issues beyond the Westminster bubble fire the public's collective imagination.

All in all a great evening. Several used the Obama Campaign as a reference, in spite of it jokingly being seen as an unmentionable point. Was good to meet a few familiar faces as well, as well as having Tom Harris tell me afterwards that he hardly checks his stats for his blog, although I am sure his reasoning is different from mine, which is I don't check them out of fear!
Anyways, I hope Total Politics hold similar such debates regarding blogging in future. Iain please take note ;-)

1 comment:

Malcolm said...

An interesting evening! Thank you for that report, Paul.