Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Is this Inconsistent?

David Cameron, rightly I think, argued in a Guardian article on Monday that "The old answers - where politicians talked and people listened - will not work in a new age", suggesting that the Internet, globalisation of politics and political activism and social networking has revolutionised social interaction and that the Conservatives have adapted to this revolution. One bit of this adaptation is: "we launched our new ad campaign on Facebook. We also introduced a new "friends" programme, giving people the opportunity to support us with however small a donation they like. We understand that for many, the idea of signing up to a party as a full "member" doesn't fit with what they want", so adaptation is really asking for money via Facebook. This is not what Facebook is all about, supporting causes to some extent yes, but for an organisation to say 'be my friend, show me support and give me money' is not.

The second 'adaptation' is "answering your questions live on the Guardian website". This consisted of no more than 30 minutes, and is of dubious quality. We do not learn a lot ands he also wriggles out of tough questions referring, too often in my opinion, questioners to the Conservative website. The classic, tough question comes from 'Whyayeman' who talks of Cameron's speech on penal reform and asks "Were you aware of these inaccuracies? If not why not? If you knew the truth, then why did you lie"; this gets a short answer that argues that half the points Cameron made were accurate, ignores the other half and attacks the Labour government: "Labour failed to invest in the necessary prison capacity. But the real point about our policy document launched yesterday - see for details"

The challenge posed by new technology is how to interact with an increasingly online society. If you choose an interactive strategy then you must be wholehearted in your interaction. This seems to be more of a case of appearing interactive, accessible and down-to-earth (looking at some of the style of answering), but there is no conversation here or on Facebook; is this really adapting or wanting to be perceived to be adapting?

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