Yes, you guessed it, ...what is the question. According to Captain Sensible, founder of the Blah Party, Councillor Stephen Tall, Lib-Dem blogger of the year, among others; blogging and the Internet more generally is the way that politicians can connect to their public. But is this really true?
Clearly some MPs can connect to some of the public via the web, Boris Johnson gains a lot of feedback on his blog, and Anne Widdecombe's Widdyweb seems to get a lot of hits; is this making a connection though. There are huge issues of access for many, there is also the question of involvement, or more simply how many of the public are really motivated to seek out their or any MP on the web. Yet the current culture is that every organisation or individual that seeks public attention and support (in whatever form) must be online. It is hyped as the nirvana of communication and image management, but is this true?
The real answer is that we don't yet know. Like any form of communication it works, for some individuals, among a section of the public, for certain purposes etc, etc. Measurement of effect is not impossible, but it is difficult; arguably there is potential for vote winning and connecting but it remains limited. What is surprising is that some MPs appear to have total faith in the idea of an online presence with almost religious zeal: so are the prophets? Or prats as Benjamin Wegg-Prosser was recently described? More importantly are resources being channelled into the web presence that are more effective elsewhere, this is the big question that perhaps many MPs have faced and their zealotry is partly an expression of trying to convince themselves. History, one day, will show us whether they were right or not!