Opinion: General Election 1.5 – 2010, the almost Internet Election

As a Lib Dem working in online and multimedia communications, the concept of an ‘Internet election’ is something I have thought quite a lot about. In the build up to the election I expressed my concerns about the Lib Dems use of online tools on my own blog.

I am pleased to say that on a national level my fears were misplaced. Our online campaign was excellent, and by far the best of the three major parties.  In particular the Labservative spoof campaign was innovative, eye catching, and added a new entry to the politco dictionary. It was exactly the way political parties should use the Internet.

In terms of social media, the now famous ‘We got Rage to #1…’ Facebook group certainly generated interest, and the #nickcleggsfault hash tag helped null a lot of online criticism. However, all the parties suffered from the classic Internet campaign problem of preaching to the converted too much.

At a local level only Lynne Featherstone MP seems to get it. Online doesn’t replace groundwork, it enhances it, and helps organise people. The London Mayoral, GLA, and local elections will provide an excellent opportunity for our party to use the Internet to engage people on a local level. It is also a great way to keep our distinct voice heard.

The same is true of the AV referendum. Setting out a strong online stall could make people realise what a change to a fairer voting system could mean for them. Democracy is all about engagement right?

As Mark Pack rightly points out, people have called elections from as far back as 1997 ‘the Internet election’, and it has never quite happened. There is a whole manner of possible reasons for this. Perhaps our politics simply doesn’t suit huge Internet campaigns. Perhaps the next generation of candidates, many of whom will be so called ‘Internet natives’, will be able to use these tools more naturally ,and therefore more effectively, than the current crop.  Perhaps the TV debates are destined to overshadow any other aspect of a General Election campaign forever more.

The only thing we really know now is that while the Internet may have shaped the 2010 General Election, it certainly did not decide it.

Charlotte Henry is Vice Chair Communications, Liberal Youth

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This entry was posted in Online politics and Op-eds.
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6 Comments

  • Hmmm
    Lynne Featherstone as the ONLY…
    My team were pleased with the viral success of this launched from one of our supportive residents
    http://www.youtube.com/user/474towin#p/a/f/0/aaruPtx-eFM

  • George Kendall 1st Jul '10 - 1:53pm

    ed f, really liked that. Simple and effective

  • George Kendall 1st Jul '10 - 1:58pm

    Has anywhere had an internet election? For all Obama’s successful use of the internet, surely, the last presidential election was still mostly a TV election?

  • The Labservatives election broadcast on YouTube has 1,047 views, though, whereas Turn it Upside Down has 17,054, and believeinfairness (the one with the bird flying about) has 14,695. I don’t think you can beat goodwill.

    I know there was a separate Labservative.com site, but YouTube is surely where most people see these?

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