Monday, February 20, 2006

Alastair intimidated

Some statements can be interesting, not for their content, but for who is saying them.

Alastair Campbell
"Research in the UK after the election showed that 28% of UK internet users went online to get political information - this equates to 15% of the population. This is still a long way behind other sources. 89 per cent of people cited TV as a source of political information relevant to the campaign, 70 per cent said newspapers. But among young people aged between 18 and 24, the figure rises to 33 per cent. It is still not high enough to be able to claim a "revolution" in political communications, but it may suggest a trend towards it."

"The appeal of all this, in our very aggressive media marketplace, in which news and comment have become fused in so many of our papers and broadcast outlets, and in which 24 hour news has become a journalistic talking shop, one reporter often being interviewed by another about what others say in their newspapers, is that it offers the prospect of more direct communication. Also, just as the public have grown very canny about techniques of political communication - how could they fail to given the media's obsession with exposing and criticising so-called "spin"? - so they are very canny about media spin too. The internet gives them the chance to put themselves in the driving seat so far as access to political information is concerned. They can decide what they want to see and read, and go and find it. They can have their opinions, and go to find the arguments that help maintain them, rather than have anyone tell them what to think."

"The area most in need of development is in how you turn this into a genuine two-way process of debate and engagement. The best of our MPs have picked up on this and developed really exciting ways of re-engaging with their constituents. But it is slow, and I think even the best would admit that pressure groups still lead the way. They do not always have the resources of the major parties but they make up for it with technological know how and entrepreneurial spirit. Make Poverty History was a brilliant example. Regardless of whether it was or it wasn't, people felt this was a two-way dialogue. Political parties are still driven by "one to many" communications, rather than trying to imagine - and bring about - "one to one."

"For the parties to get better, politicians need to understand the web more, but I know from my own experience it is an uphill struggle. Only now are young politicians coming through who are familiar with its capacity and relaxed about some elements which intimidate some of their older colleagues, me included."

"As with so much in the world of change, this will be driven by young people, the very people politicians need to reach out too most if we are to reverse the decline in political engagement and the rise in cynicism. It means understanding that we now live in an age where anyone under 30 relies on the web as one of their main communications channels, and where for anyone under 20 it is their core communications channel."

1 comment:

Aidan said...

Very interesting article, once you've waded through the bombast-disguised-as-self-deprecation and the (admittedly-amusing) Tony-on-the-witty-human-frontline tales...
Oh, and the instinctive kicks against the Press pricks, of course...
Sure, there are plenty of opportunities to try to nail down those more 'authentic' 'one-on-ones', but for all parties talk of aiming to achieve this, it's surely much, much easier said than done. Or easier said than committed to. Just how valuable, really, have been those various New Labour attempts to harness multimedia for brief campaigns, eg. The Big Conversation, only for a veneer of trendy interactivity to quickly start scraping away...?
Blogging may not quite have met media expectations of US-style scoops in last year's general election campaign, but already the, er, 'blogosphere' seems too infinitely sprawling for any party to attempt to try to sort-of steer, let alone assuredly control... Best to use whatever opportunities for small gains, organisations of already-interested acolytes, then try to move slowly, slowly, catchee-monkey from there...
But anyway. Again, the piece was very interesting. Was the Alastair Campbell election blog real, then, or not...?