>The internet election…again…

>The Hansard Society have launched a paper on the Internet Election, or lack there of, and hosted a debate on the issue last night in Portcullis House. The debate was wide raging and interesting. The main point that struck VN was what does ‘the internet election’ actually mean? Does it mean organising people, winning votes by high quality web based  media, or something different entirely?

Politics has always been quite elitist, and the internet in theory should reverse this. Parties have allowed online politics to become more decentralised, but there is still a sense of politicos talking to themselves, particularly on Twitter. This was summed up by a stat one of the panellists put forward: 9.4 million watched the Leaders Debates on television, only 37,000 tweeted about it.

VN’s particular 2010 Election web highlights were The Liberal Democrat’s ‘Labservative’ campaign, and the outrage when Labour MP Kerry McCarthy tweeted the results of postal ballots being counted. MyDavidCameron and the reversing of the #nickcleggsfault hash tag were also great fun, but did any of these things win (or lose,) any votes?

Part of the reason is that British political parties simply do not provide enough resources for online media to make a real difference. Another stat for you: by the end of his Presidential campaign, Barack Obama’s online team contained 140 members,by the end of the 2010 General Election campaign the Conservative Party’s contained 12. 

It was rightly pointed out last night that there was very little evidence from 2001 or 2005 to justify the 2010 election being hyped as ‘the internet election’. The  AV referendum, Labour Leadership, and local/Mayoral elections give online activists another chance to hone their skills and fully utilise this new medium. Before that, political parties need to decide what they want new media to do, and be willing to pay for it.


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