Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 21 March 2010

What impact will the Internet have on the next general election?

A week or so ago I was on a panel for an event with this title organised by Glasshouse Partnership and the BCS as part of its Savvy Citizens campaign.

The panel also included Elizabeth Sparrow President of the BCS, Jag Singh of Messagespace and former adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Paul Staines author of the Guido Fawkes blog and Labour MP Derek Wyatt. The event was chaired by Michael Cross, a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Guardian.

The event was very enjoyable and was structured such that the first half was spent responding to a number of questions that were sent to the panellists in advance regarding the use of the internet and social media with respect to politics in the past, present and the future. It was then opened up to the floor for questions.

Some brief highlights for me: I was interested to hear Paul's thoughts on how instant polling is starting to be used and its possible effects on election campaigns. Derek explained how he thinks that he is the first MP to have an app. Although he also thought that a regular weekly 7:00pm radio slot for the PM to "talk to the nation" would be a real ratings winner about which I am dubious! Elizabeth was able to provide the BCS view on the subject and thinks that mobile devices will become more and more integral in the future although she suggested that our innovative use of new technology is as important as the technology itself. Jag made some good contributions and was able to provide insight into how the internet and social media has been used to great effect in the US. As an aside, it was fascinating to realise through discussion with him beforehand that had Clinton's campaign to become the Democratic candidate and ultimately President have succeeded then Jag would likely have been a senior staffer in the White House now. You know, like Josh or CJ from off of The West Wing (that's how I imagined it in my mind anyway)!

There is a video of the entire event below:

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