.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, June 16, 2008

Getting on-line

The new-look Western Mail website carries an interesting article about the use of the internet by politicians in America. The piece carries a familiar message, that the internet is one of a campaign’s most powerful weapons and Welsh politicians ignore it at their peril.

To an extent they are right, but I think we also need to recognise that UK politicians are working in a different context to their American counterparts. The level of internet penetration is not so great, nor is our culture so advanced that people conduct their daily business on-line to the same extent. I do not believe for example that we have the potential to raise money on-line in the same way as Obama has done.

One of the big differences is that American politics is far more personality-based. British political parties are more closed to new ideas, new members and new donors and often treat the latter with suspicion. That should not be an obstacle to on-line fundraising but it does lead to a greater reluctance from potential donors to give. There is not so much of the feel of a crusade here as there is around Obama and often donor's feel that they should get something for themselves in return for their contribution. They are not as content to settle for the wider political goals of the campaign they are helping.

Having said all that there is a lot more all politicians can do on-line and Leighton Andrews is right when he says that the web is a useful additional tool to communicate with voters and to promote our own constituencies. There is an audience out there who we might not reach otherwise and we should make the effort to try.

I have written an article for the Institute of Welsh Affairs magazine 'Agenda' on politicians and the internet. When it is published I will link on this blog to an on-line version.

Update: Mark Pack has an interesting and insightful counter-view on the Total Politics website.
Broadband penetration is higher in the UK than in the US.
I referred to internet penetration not broadband penetration by which I meant propensity to use the internet on a day by day basis for a wide number of lifestyle issues.
... all this talk about "penetration" got me thinking, Peter - you old dog, when are you taking up the strings? To lead your party to greatness!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?