We can make all the predictions we like about the development of technology, new communications methods bla bla bla, but the really important question for all us in the UK is – how will you vote in the forthcoming election? Because this time the choice isn’t between a little bit more money or a little bit less money in our pocket. Nor should it be about whether we like Gordon Brown’s tailor. This is by far the most important election for the last 12 years, because it will determine how or maybe even whether we ride out the economic storm.
And of course, for those of us leading fully networked lives there’s a different level of interest after the central role played by social media in the 2009 Obama campaign. Will the UK political parties go the same way? (yes they already are – eg webCameron) Will they suceed?
I was having a discussion about all this with @mccrudden at lunch. He thinks there are interesting opportunities for independent candidates – I definitely agree with that. There may also be opportunities for progressive and energetic individuals MPs because social media revolves around the cult of personality. But will it be the decisive poll swinging tool that it undoubtedly was in the States? I have to say I doubt it.
Our politicians have less to differentiate them, there is not a massively smarting disenfranchised electorate that feels ignored by one party out there waiting for mobilisation, there isn’t one person to vote for, there’s a party and I think that we still know that, and on top of that there is British cynicism.
I think there may be a real opportunity for apolitical organisations to drive election agendas using online spaces, which will not only be in social media. You only have to look at mydavidcameron.com, or the fact that 38 degrees has already launched into 2010 by polling its members about whether they should act to drive political discussion in the election, or this post about
The Guardian and many political think tanks have taken the opposite view to me. They think that this election will be substantially driven by social media – or at least by digital media.
I think that it will play a substantial part, it will be integral, but will it be the change maker as it was in the States? Will it really swing the central, floating voters out of their complacency?
Whatever the result I am looking forward to the ingenuity of the various party teams – they’re going to have to work hard to catch our attention and I don’t doubt that they will.