Monday, May 19, 2008

The digital politician?

Gordon Brown, in launching an online 'Question Time' via Youtube, argues it is time the public had a chance to ask him questions. He invites anyone to submit videos and promises to respond.

While a little bit like a video answer-machine message, he looks a lot more open in his manner than his usual appearances, talking to the camera in a very sincere way. The rules of engagement are interesting, firstly it is clear what he does not want "Videos should not contain any references to political parties or commercial endorsement, be aggressive or offensive" and one imagines any that do not conform here will not see the light of day. However, there is a further inference of wanting a different type on engagement: "Be original, use your creativity and your imagination. Make your video a success. Think outside the box!" This perhaps hints he wants to follow a different agenda to that of the media, and in his video this may well mean those big issues he talks of: "globalisation, climate change, housing, jobs and public services", issues which are of concern to the predominantly young Youtube user but that national politicians are often accused of ignoring. Will he get interesting and creative questions? Will he in turn provide interesting and creative answers? Or is this purely an exercise to prove he is not an "analogue politician in a digital age"? Clearly he recognises that the Internet is a key political battleground and one which Cameron has had to himself for a long time; can he make an impact here?

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