Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Telegraph Column: Has This Been the Internet Election?

I have a column in today's Telegraph headlined

This was meant to be the internet election. So what happened?

Read it HERE.


Weygand said...

By far the most significant moments have been
a) The Telegraph expenses articles which set the scene (Press) and
b) The dreadful debates which have infantilised the debate and produced the Clegg effect (TV)

The internet in all its forms has not come close to having such influence.

James Higham said...

You know, Iain, that the media cut out any chance of a democratic choice being offered. I'm at a local election meeting this evening and will be asking this:

James Higham, Albion Alliance.

Lord Pearson yesterday issued an ultimatum to the BBC, requiring a reply by 2 o'clock this afternoon, that parties of substance in the UK be represented in the Leader's Debates, not just the three parties the media decided to promote. Lord Pearson has demanded that this be redressed in time for the last debate tomorrow.

It seems to me that local independents should also be included in local debates. I believe there was a hustings last Friday at which you were not represented. Would you care to comment on our democratic deficit, aided and abetted by the media's selective promotion?

Thank you.

The issue is that opinion is being deliberately excluded and it's now a litmus test tomorrow evening on our democratic deficit. Should the UKIP move succeed, then there is hope.

Should nothing change and the ultimatum be ignored, then we have troubles.

This is directly related to the title of your post as to why the internet election did not take place.

Simon Lewis said...

We have had nothing in Braintree. I know the Tories have an 8k notional majority. We've had 3 leaflets, no one at the door and no word on a local meeting. Tis true that the election has been taken over by the tv debates which has destroyed the whole local aspect. These debates don't work in a parliamentary democracy. As for the other leaders taking part in the debates. They aren't standing everywhere. In fact this should be a one experiment never to be repeated, and has worked massively against the Tories who wanted them.

James Featherwell said...

I am sure that if one were able to know precisely who took the first real photograph, and the second, it would go something like this: The first real photograph was of a flower. The second was of the photographer's penis.

All media developes unevenly, both artistically and morally. For example, many of the exploitative movies of the 70's would not get made today because the boundaries have been reeled in. It is the same with the internet, and blogging. It has yet to move away from its obsession with porn and kittens. Similarly, when it became clear that the web was being used for political purposes, the knee-jerk reaction was generally to either ban it or exploit it. It is an immature reaction; that of a child with a new pet rabbit, who might decide to stick pins in it to see what happens. It has been temporarily stunted by abuse.

What McBridegate showed, if it was a paradigm at all, is that this platform cannot be controlled. It cannot be banned or burned, it cannot be redacted or edited by stealth, since, somewhere, it exists for those who know how. Unlike books or video, it is virtually impervious to ownership.

What you are seeing is not a failure, not a disappointment and neither an exemplar of its limits. What you are seeing is merely, a temporary hiatus, caused by the incompetence and lack of vision of those who think they know it all and those who believe they can take control. They cannot. This medium is virtually incapable of overall control. When those who seek to use it for their own ends realize this, they will move on and the process of progress as a medium will begin again.

Noel Bell said...

I had always suspected that the online political community would coexist within a bubble and not effectively engage with the wider on line community (popular single issues aside perhaps). That has been the case in this election. Perhaps the Obama campaign is an example of how things could be different in terms of wider engagement but as you say the parties here have failed to throw sufficient resources at it. But it might also be possible that the Obama example is not a realistic comparison for the UK given the vastly different political landscape of that vast country.

Adrian said...

The internet definitely has had an impact on the election; tens of thousands of people are communicating online about the election, and/or using the internet as a source of information. It's just that it's hard to put one's finger on what its effect has been. Did it make the Clegg bounce bigger?

But it is correct that the UK web has yet to find a specific role. I think though that now we've seen an increase in interest in politics among the under-30's, at future elections that group will carve out various political niches on the web which will require more attention from the parties.

My thoughts on the campaign endgame:

Desperate Dan said...

Bird and Fortune do a very good spoof of someone interviewing a deranged old buffer of a blog-owner who believes he has enormous influence over the election.

Newmania said...

Read that Iain it was a little forlorn but interesting as ever

Anonymous said...

Never mind all that. I read this piece in the Lebedevendent, and got the distinct impression that Matthew Norman is not Ed Balls' biggest fan:

Treat yourselves to a read; it's as naughty and self-indulgent as fine chocolate!

Tomfiglio said...

It hasn't worked because most despite blathering on about about tech-savvy they are, most politicos haven't the faintest idea how to use the Internet if they haven't got a skivvy to do it for them.

Nigel said...

>>This was meant to be the internet election. So what happened ?<<

You spent too much time canvassing and not enough blogging ?

Lady Finchley said...

What the internet has done (and I do not think it is a good thing) has encouraged a new form of lobbying - the computer generated e-mail. All a person has to do is go to for example, a Friends of the Earth website, put in his name and post card and voila, FOE will send a computer generated e-mail to the MP which is identical to the ones every other MP has received on a particular issue or campaign.

Interestingly once you sign uo for these things the particular website sends out an e-mail in your name for every campaign they are running whether you have signed uo for it or not. In fact many people forget they have signed up and you will often get an outraged reply such as 'how dare you write to me - I never wrote to you!'. The same used to happen with post card campaigns.

In my view if the constituent can't be arsed to write a personal e-mail about his views on an issue they don't deserve an answer. Of course MPs are now hostages to the damn things and have to reply but it is essentially a lazy ass way of getting your point across.

The latest wheeze is the 'online survey' sent out by various lobbying groups which expecta busy candidate to complete some long winded form that will invariably leave him hostage to fortune. The voter then goes on the website to see their candidate's reply. Utter bollocks and incredibly lazy.

Jacques René Zammit said...

Good morning,

I've already left my comment to the article on the Telegraph post. I just wanted to link to an extended reaction on my blog to the ideas provoked in your article.

My blog post link is here:


Ray said...

What I find most frustrating is that for all the information the internet turns up, it still is filtered through the MSM and more often than not disappears. Take the example of yesterdays heckler with DC, within minutes the Blogosphere had the guy nailed, but did it make to to either of the big 2's broadcasts ? No because DC being heckled was a better story, and, as it is said"never let the truth get in the way of a good story"

Unknown said...

MSM (electronic or otherwise) is about broadcasting. One way.. from the centre to the punter. Punters still lap it up in their millions, whether it be from the Telegraph leader page, the BBC News or, god help us, News in Briefs from the Sun.

If parties want to get a message across and have the ear of the MSM, they'll get it across far more efficiently that way.

Social media is partly about peers *sharing* this stuff, but mainly about having a conversation. If parties are serious about having one, it could prove a big boon to them.

But most political tweeters I've seen are more interested in chucking insults (never very nuanced in 140 chars, and usually hugely damaging to their own image) or parroting a party line.

Your point about small networks with no-one listening is a good one. Which is why these conversations need to start years before a campaign.

If politicians treat this stuff as an extension of their kissing babies duties (ie another form of personal contact), it'll work and maybe extend their contact from a few hundred voters to a few thousand. Not revolutionary, but potentially useful if they @reply to a wavering voter's query..

If they think it's going to replace their mass media presence and cut out the Fleet Street/White City filter, they're toast.

Nigel said...

Interesting, and a little depressing, that you admit in your Telegraph article that the Labour troll accusations of your being an uncritical Tory shill during the campaign are essentially true.

While I am a convinced Conservative supporter - for this election at least - I don't think your efforts 'not to rock the boat' do the Tories any favours.
Bland doesn't interest, or convince, anyone.

Jabba the Cat said...

The main part played by the internet has been before the election where, mainly Guido, took a few important scalps, and the expenses scandal exposure.

Also, Dan Hannan reaming McMental a new rear orifice was an important moment, again due to the internet.

These and many more internet contributions, all add up and play their significant part in the whole process that culminates with the election.

Chris said...

Just posted the following on Telegraph, which may not make it through the mods,

Twitter and Facebook merely seem to be throwing up gaffes.

With some attention being focused on blogs, there should be a chance for some individual, single issue web sites to be seen and, perhaps be taken up by the media. eg

This appears to detail serious wrongdoing at DTI, now DBIS; perhaps the internet 'crowd' can
analyse what it says, as it is very detailed.

Perhaps the MSM could ask Lord Mandelson for his comments on the 'shaftedbyalabourgovernment' site and what is says about him, and if he says he is unaware of it, state that the same question will be asked in 24 hours.

This sort of thing could mean some politicians being held to account on something real, rather than waffling about their non-existent policies for reducing the deficit, or whatever.

But this sort of happening needs The Telegraph mods to allow posts like this for this process to begin.