Friday, August 29, 2008

Telegraph Column: The Tories & the Internet

My Telegraph column today looks at how the Conservative Party is failing to harness the power of the internet in its campaigning strategy. I suggest, politely I hope, that it needs to stop paying lipservice to its web operations and get serious.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely fantastic column, the most important thing you've had to say in my opinion.

The one thing I would say is that the vast majority of the money raised by the Democrats has been to individual candidates who bloggers highlight for their readers. This won't work the same way if they expect people to make donations to the central party, it must be about you, Conservative Home and others picking, say, ten candidates in swing seats who you believe are genuine talents and deserving of special attention.

Panopticon Britain said...

I was very surprised at your claim the top blogs are read more than the Indy, and get more visits than the tory website itself. I guess some guy ranting IS more entertaining than a drone in a news room.... explains why Bill O Reilly's so loved.

I made a post on my blog on my thoughts on Ian's excellent article if anyone's interested. First blog, save my "Practice" blog that I deleted. So go gentle with me.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

A good article but a bit desultory. I found it difficult to follow your train of thought.

I will stick to the subject of blogging and not the internet in general.

We could start by separating out the elements; the medium and the message. Your main criticism in terms of the platform seems to be that they are technically behind and that they do not use designated personnel. That would suggest to me that they have tried it. Gotten their fingers burnt and given up. The reasons for that might be because of their expectations of what it would deliver,i.e. lots of swooning, fawning comments and people joining the Tories in droves when they realised that DC was a regular bloke with a kitchen.

Your observation that CCHQ views Tory bloggers with suspicion would suggest,as you have, that they have no "control" and therefore they cannot function in this arena. You say this is short-sighted. I say that this shows just how out of touch they are with the real world.

WebCameron (which you cite) is a case in point. WebCameron began as a faux fly-on-the-wall showcase for David Cameron. The message was, "David is Normal" "David is Cool" "David meets the people and listens" For a while it looked as if DC himself was working the camera (or getting a mate with shaky hands to do it) and moderating the blog. Of course, the whole thing has been bollocks from start to finish; a very glib attempt to use the medium for propaganda, operated by low-level functionaries. Just look at the comments. They are not worthy of the cheesiest bedroom blog.

WebCameron has not posted during August, but when it does it gets less comments than my blog and those that get through are fulsome and pro DC. Just figure that. I blog sporadically from a house in Scotland, and do not lead a political party, and am not important, but I get more comments than David Cameron. This cannot be right! He cannot be doing it right!

"You can't play at internet politics" you write. How true. You can't really play at blogging because you won't get any readers. It takes work, as you very well know.

So what it comes down to, as far as I can see, is a lack of motivation and a failure to take the medium seriously. The reason for this I believe is that they saw the internet as a crude propaganda tool and nothing more. As soon as they realised that it bites back they lost interest.

Newmania said...

Always a pleasure to read your stuff Iain.
In addition to the 300 or so right-ish bloggers you may have in mind there are many many more who are friendly to the cause and who might up their game at the election.
I only wonder how many of the blog readers are likely to chnage their minds though. Newspapers seem to reach out from the readership some how .I`m not sure blogs do.

BrianSJ said...

DC talked the right talk in his NESTA speech, with bits from Wikinomics etc. You are absolutely right, they don't walk the walk even a little bit, with the notable exception of John Redwood's blog.

BrianSJ said...

PS (sorry)
Morus' Denver Diary at pb has a great piece on the progress of the Democrat's use of the internet, building on the Howard Dean legacy.
scroll down to
WEDNESDAY 27th AUGUST 2008 @ 15:35

the orange party said...

Harnessing the power of the internet, yes. But please tell your Conservative friends, Iain, not to go down the path of Obama's fundraising!

You seem to have bought into the fairytale of dollar donations over the internet - when in fact Obama, just like all candidates, gets his cash from the big 'bundlers' and lobbyists.

Anonymous said...

Excellent column. Any chance you could post the unedited version you handed in, like you did with the A-list?

We're picking it up at Iqrai

Anonymous said...

Surely to have the ear of those that can do something about this?

Have you personally lobbied DC and GO (and AC etc) to get in front of this huge opportunity?

Anonymous said...


Big whoppee-do at the Conservative Conference is going to be the re-launch of the website.

Of course, it'll be a typical CCHQ half-bake. Problem is that young Dave, George and little Andy Coulson are not technical or internet users or understand non-printing press output, so they simply do not feel it. Their whole strategy is about newspaper headlines. So old school for supposedly young people / thinkers.

All very well having people explain it to them, but these guys are hovering around 40. It's intensely pathetic that they even need it elucidating for them. And they want us to believe they can run a country? When their internet scepticism is akin to thinking the telephone is a storm in a teacup?

Iain is right. It is embarrassingly behind the curve. Even if they re-launch in September.