Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
The featured defectors include Chamilo Fernando the youngest person to have been short-listed by a mainstream political party to be a mayoral candidate for London; Tarik Mahmood, former candidate for Rossendale Council and the seat of Uxbridge in 2005; Norsheen Bhatti, PPC for Chelsea and Fulham who recently courted some media attention for outspoken comments about Clegg's leadership; and Jeff Clarke who stood for Wirral West in 2005. They are an interesting group that, due to their backgrounds and ethnic origins, demonstrate diversity and openness. They are very much the embodiment of the concept of a progressive alliance, as are the reasons they give for their switch.
On a more critical note, beyond questions of the extent to which the video is scripted and more of an advertisement than a record of an event which are expected of such a promotional tool, this raises many questions about the state of British politics. It demonstrates the weakness of ideology, the fluidity of party loyalty and, perhaps, the hunger for having proximity to power as opposed to a party coalescing around an idea. It is leadership that matters to some, to others it is broad policy priorities; though this perhaps reflects broader society than just those within politics. It also perhaps indicates a further key theme for the Conservatives at the forthcoming General Election. While questioning the record of Labour they also seek to undermine the Liberal Democrats' support and attempt to reclaim the supporters they lost to the party in the South while also winning over previous Labour supporters who now lean towards the Liberal Democrat. This could actually be quite successful, particularly as the arguments are presented not by recognisable Conservative figures but by Liberal Democrat activists. Is it appropriate to ask for switching, well it has been done by all parties in marginal seats using derivatives of 'XXXX can't win here, so vote for... US'; this is a slightly More advanced version that may have resonance with those not fully sold on Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader, who recognise a sense of futility in the fact that the Liberal Democrats will not (or may never) form a government, and who buy into the compassionate, progressive Conservative project!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I have heard a lot of discussions about the use of the Internet in relation to political engagement in one form or another. Political science approaches at the ECPR are becoming attuned to the new 'communicative ecosystem', in particular that it is no longer sensible to talk of a politics as usual when participation at some level is unavoidable - and if initiated by the political actors and organisations or not. Equally, discussions at the Web Metrics symposium organised by Royal Holloway University of London largely centred on understanding the users and fitting that to the strategy of either the research or the organisation.
In terms of political communication what seems clear is that organisations have a choice of whether or not to develop a Web 2.0 strategy, and in considering this the organisation has also to consider what benefits and threats exist. Parties and governments may see open access as a threat, as individuals contribute and so distort the message and make communication unmanageable. However individuals and other organisations see only opportunities. I noted this example from Greenpeace's use of Facebook. Canadian activists have seized two giant dump trucks and a shovel at the Albian Sands open-pit mine north of Fort McMurray and have vowed to remain chained to the equipment until their message was heard. It has received widespread news coverage; however Greenpeace are reaching a global audience via Facebook also, posting pictures and receiving 'likes' from their audience (see screenshot). The reason they may do this is that this might target their supporters better, mobilise support online and gain greater interest in this and their other campaigns. While 155 likes and 14 comments may seem paltry, one has to remember that all the friends of those 155 have been informed of their friends' endorsement. Some may look at the link out of curiosity, and thus the reach increases. Such tactics seem increasingly common and a part of the new networking ecosystem that social networking facilitates. Electoral politics, Obama aside, are behind the curve on this but activists are showing the way in reaching wide audiences quickly and cheaply.