Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The online race to be (LibDem) President

From a very slow start, Lembit Opik seems to have launched a campaign for his bid to be LibDem leader. Interestingly the BBC picked up on the bit of the contest taking place on Facebook, both he and Ros Scott have '4 President' groups and in terms of membership Opik is winning 694 to 416. So does this indicate anything, no and numbers alone rarely do. Those supporting Opik are mostly UK based, but include people from the Caribbean, across Europe and one Alex Hilton the creator of LabourHome. Scott, on the other hand, has all the MPs showing their support and hers seems to be the site for the party elite and some of the activists.

In terms of content however, Opik's Discussion Board contains the question 'will he help or hinder the party' and there are 5 posts. Yes they all say he will help, but it does focus on some of the questions about whether he can be taken seriously as a politician. A clever persuasive tool is for the admin to put up the question and get the ordinary visitor to give an endorsement. Scott's page is a little drab in that respect, pictures of her touring the constituencies but nothing that shouts out at the visitor.

Ros Scott's website however is the focus of her campaign. Here visitors are asked to input a postcode or select a region and then you get endorsements from local party activists from the local MEP to councillors to an ordinary, new member of Poole Liberal Democrats. A very attractive site and perhaps pitched right for the target audience of card carrying members. Lembit Opik's is nicely branded, it is yellow, but far more haphazard and unprofessional. There are a range of endorsements from MPs, PPCs etc but it does not have the attractive presentation; but does this matter really?

Perhaps the telling difference is the statements. Scott talks in manifestos and there is a lot of words to get through, but this is ideal for those who have high involvement in the contest and its outcome. Opik offers 12 lines that are about his personal values as opposed to the nitty gritty of politics and the role of the President. It is a contrast between Opik's "President with vim and verve, who everyone knows" and "someone who represents that membership not just to the outside world, but internally, to the Leader". But it depends on the audience which will have the greatest persuasive impact. Is it a case of style versus substance, celebrity versus grassroots campaigner and if so which would you put money on to win?


Mark Hanson said...

and Lembit even has his own PR agency

Anonymous said...

So who's paying for use of said PR firm? I think we need to know. Bearing in mind LO does not always declare his financial goings-on (how much is he being paid by the silly Segway people and did he claim for the house he bought with the fragrant Sian Lloyd? ) one wonders what sort of a deal he's struck. This coupled with the very fact Big Brother would even consider him ( can you imagine Vince or Paddy being approached?!) says SO very much. He's a walking talking disaster for the party. Please God he'll NEVER get elected

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