Were Hoon and Hewitt of the wrong generation to succeed?

There are many, many reasons why the snow coup melted away so quickly. In amongst them is the lack of any groundswell of support, whether from backbench MPs or activists around the country, for the latest attempt.

Today’s Guardian throws an interesting light on the detail of how such grassroots opinion is followed in contemporary politics:

Downing Street on Wednesday monitored the Labour grassroots response to Hoon and Hewitt through Twitter, finding little or no support for their push.

That certainly partly reflects Labour reaction but it also reflects the degree to which Hoon, Hewitt and their allies are of a different political generation from those who naturally turn to online tools. They are not naturals on social media – or even enforced immigrants – who have built up a network of people who will express and spread supportive opinions.

Even in a political situation as dominated by senior figures at the top as in the case with an attempted coup (would one Cabinet minister speak out?), grassroots opinion can have a real impact. Although the ending of Charles Kennedy’s leadership happened in a pre-Twitter world, the sharp change in sentiment amongst party members shown in emails to party HQ was not without its impact on senior figures.

In the more pervasive and more public current internet world, the power of grassroots to influence senior figures is all the greater – and those who wish to influence events but are outside the internet world increasingly find themselves handicapped before they event start.

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3 Comments

  • “In the more pervasive and more public current internet world, the power of grassroots to influence senior figures is all the greater”

    I’m not sure how this makes sense. It’s not like those same grassroots had no means of talking to each other and to the “senior figures” before. Or is it just lazy journalists relying on Twatter to make up stories?

  • Or is it just lazy journalists relying on Twatter to make up stories?
    You’ve nailed it.

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