Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Internet & the Election



This is a four minute report from Channel 4 News on how the internet will be used in the next electionc campaign, highlighting Sarah Brown's 1 million Twitter followers. I've also just done a piece for ITV Meridian on this. Yesterday Alex Smith from LabourList and I talked on the subject to the BBC Journalism College, and on Monday the Richard Bacon Show spent 35 minutes on this issue with a discussion between Will Straw, Mark Pack and myself. You can listen to it HERE [scroll in 1 hr 25 mins].

So you can see that the media seem quite obsessed with how new media will be utilised during the campaign. My own view, as you will hear during the 5 Live discussion with Richard Bacon, is that it is easy to exaggerate the use of and importance of social media in election campaigns. Sure, in marginal seats, it could well make a bit of a difference, but overall I just don't see blogging, Facebook and Twitter having a massive impact during the campaign, apart from possibly a negative one where some idiot of a candidate posts something without thinking.

So this election won't be the internet election. We'll have to wait a few years for that.

20 comments:

Desperate Dan said...

Sorry, I can't think of anything worse than listening to 35 minutes of the moronic Richard Bacon.

jailhouselawyer said...

"So this election won't be the internet election. We'll have to wait a few years for that".

Wrong on both accounts.

The internet will be a big influence, and in the next general election.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

I'm not sure whether I agree with you Iain. Look at the impact Facebook & Twitter had on Obama's campaign.

Mike Rouse said...

Will there ever be an 'internet election'?

Paul Halsall said...

"So this election won't be the internet election. We'll have to wait a few years for that."

I think you are correct on this, Iain, and if you are it's worth asking why the situation here is so different from the US?

I think one reason is that it is so hard here to attach popular movements to the actions of political parties. Although party officers have a lock on local parties in some areas in the US, by and large the party registration system (whereby you can sign up as a DEM or REP when you register to vote) allows for insurgencies *within* political parties.

In the UK both Labour and the Tories have become ever more centralised (and were not that open to begin with). It is rather hard then for populist movements to be a success within parties. Here, you are much more likely to succeed in pressing an issue if you organise outside party structures (as with LGBT groups).

Old Holborn said...

Iain

Seen this?

http://themakingof.giveyourvote.org/about/

Ray said...

There's a BBC Journalism College ?????, where is it ? The Karl Marx Centre for Revisionist Writing

ejcallow said...

I think the key factor in this election is that the public don't seem to think of either party as being a real "change" (in the same way as the voters did in the US in 2008).
We saw what many commentators called an "internet election" to sweep Barack Obama to office, but I don't see anyone in this country drawing serious parallels, and for good reason.
Politics in this country is still seen as stagnant by a great many people in the demographics that are driving action through the internet.
Until this situation changes, I don't see the internet playing anywhere near as big a part as it has the potential to.

Richard said...

There's a risk of getting carried away with the internet side of it, the offline campaigns are still much large and effective.

Digital tracking of old school campaigning is where it's at: http://www.thestraightchoice.org/

Pogo said...

I watched the film clip... Well, that's "mumsnet" screwed then.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

On the other hand Iain may have a point. This is what Martin Sorrell said on Tuesday morning.

Sir Martin Sorrell re UK Election Campaign "Neither UK political party has a digital marketing edge... yet" #FTMedia10

Desperate Dan said...

Given the immoral behaviour and borderline criminality of the Labour campaign so far, I imagine if they're using the internet they'll be using it for evil purposes - mobilising violent demonstrations, moronic mobs, disruption, vandalism. Gordon Brown's acting like an out-of-control Mafia don. There are no depths to which he won't sink to hang on to what he thinks is his.

Scan said...

The problem is that political parties and the people who surround them have such tunnel-vision that they can only see the internet as the new campanile, shouting "I AM HERE! I AM HERE!" but the internet (and specifically blogs) have become popular because they allow a natural, two-way, human communication.

cyberboris said...

http://cyberboris.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/question-time-for-boris/

Boris Johnson is appearing on Question Time tonight,(Thursday, 4th March, 10.35 pm.) but it's a pity there is no Labour heavy for him to run rings around, like he did the Labour Members of the London Assembly. Too hot to handle, is he, guys?

ollie said...

If the Tories do win the election, the Left will utilise every dirty trick in the book to undermine them - led by McMental's chief propogadist, Magda McGoebbels.

Desperate Dan said...

Cyberboris
He'll be up against the self-satisfied David Dimbleby.

golden_balls said...

Interesting how iain has decided to make no comment regarding the big political story surrounding Lord ASHcroft.

I thought further twists would emerge and it would be an interesting week.

are you going to make any comment about your friend and business partner iain ?

Andy JS said...

Channel 4 News and YouGov are saying their poll of marginals would probably lead to a hung parliament.

This is slightly odd given that the poll shows a swing of 6.5%, which is actually higher than the 6.1% needed for the Tories to win all the seats they need from Labour.

The hung parliament narrative seems to derive solely from Peter Kellner's belief that the Tories will struggle to win more than 10 seats from the LDs, an analysis which has nothing whatsoever to do with the poll itself, which only covers Lab/Con marginals.

Torbay, for example, is outside the Tories' top 10 targets from the LDs, and the LD majority there is only 6%.

LibDem Nazi said...

Social media is highly unlikely to assist a candidate at all. I can think of other reasons to use it though. but I am not going to put them on here. lol

cyberboris said...

http://cyberboris.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/biased-dimbleby-is-a-joke/

Doesn't the BBC even pretend to be impartial anymore? David Dimbleby used exactly the same rotten tactics on Boris as he did during the Mayoral elections, as boris pointed out.

Blatant blatant bias.