Sunday, 16 August 2009

'New' Politics and the Parties

As I said I'm not the first to recognise this and the parties are working hard to exploit it, so I thought I'd do a short look into their setups.

First the Lib Dems

It's a fairly standard list of campaigns with links and thumbnails, nothing special really (I can't say I rate the general Lib Dem site much, to busy and difficult to navigate, particularly in terms of policy. Click on the link on the left and it offers you a hundred different places to go for different purposes and results, just needs simplifying heavily). Then you need to go through secondary links to open PDFs to find the info. The banners on the right easily available to add on the sidebar of blogs are the best part and the only really good idea within it.

Second the Conservatives

Same basic idea as the Lib Dem one, just much better presented (as the site is in general, particularly the policy section, an easily available summary on a simple web page with an in-depth link. The social networking links are a major plus since as I've said I think these'll come to be major driving forces in organisation.) The 'What you can do' section within each campaign section is a good idea if slightly limited.

Lastly, Labour. Also LabourSpace

I kept it until last because (despite all the criticism Labour's web efforts get) I think it's the best and most interesting of the three. The Labourspace seems to reverse the focus of party campaigns. Rather than them being official party campaigns and inviting people to support it. The structure is for campaigns to be started easily and people to try and recruit supporters, with the most popular ones being brought to the attention of party bigwigs and possibly taken on as official party policy.

The caveat to this is that I've no knowledge of how it works in practice and how much far up popular campaigns can go. Ed Miliband appears to be on there a fair bit, make of that what you will. But whatever the practicalities the concept at least is interesting, a more direct form of how parties can potentially become more grass roots influenced as I mentioned in my last post (namely if there are pre-existing factions looking to use them as tools to achieve their aims)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The 'New' politics

I've seen this mentioned by others but I think it's worth repeating.

Politics is undergoing (or has undergone, depending on how you measure such things) a fundamental shift in emphasis, from broad movement politics to single issue campaigns.

What has caused this splintering is an interesting question. You can see factors of it in a general disullusionment in politics and in particular politicians. Single issue campaigns don't ask you to sign up to a particular ideology, or believe in a particular person, etc. In short there's a lot less trust required. And I don't if you've noticed, but trust in politics and politicians has reduced recently.

The second major factor would be social networking sites. Facebook, and twitter particularly, but the other ones as well. The quick spreading of popular campaigns and the ease of joining them (one click and you're part of a group backing something) means being (however minimally) politically active is easier than it ever has been. That is not to say that many of these movements can actually achieve much on their own. A large facebook group is nice but has little direct influence.

What is allows is for those with more influence in the world of politics to use them as a tool. An extra piece of the narrative to keep a story running a bit longer, or an extra way to prevent a politician from dismissing it as unimportant.

Take today with the Alan Duncan gaffe (for anyone reading this after a fair amount of time has passed, I probably need to specify which one, it's the "MPs living on rations" thing he said to the journalist (from the magazine that'd previously dug a £ sign in his garden during the expenses scandal) that he'd invited to Parliament. On BBC News it was reported as "David Cameron has said he apologised and no further action needed" (paraphrased) but it mentioned ConHome as running a survey saying he should go.

In the era of strict party discipline the media is going to increasingly look to sites like ConHome or bloggers who the party has less control over for dissenting voices (and the media loves dissent in the ranks). With the added bonus that it's harder for leaders to shrug off apparent criticism from ethereal 'grass roots'.

The supposed grass roots revolution will happen, but I doubt it'll go exactly as predicted. We're not going to head towards some sort of direct democracy or grass roots control etc. I don't think there's much bite in these movements in terms of what they could or will actually do in terms of traditional methods of exerting influence, but the bark will be enough, the need to be perceived as not ignoring the grass roots that applies the pressure.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


This has been out for a while already, but I thought I'd share it on the off chance the few lost souls wandering by here haven't seen it and need a chuckle.

Florida man blames cat for

illegal downloads

Dogs have been blamed for eating homework - now a Florida man says his cat downloaded child pornography.

Police are charging Keith Griffin of Jensen Beach, Florida with 10 counts of possession of child pornography after finding more than 1,000 images on his personal computer.

Griffin told police he had been downloading music, and that his cat jumped on the keyboard when he left the room. He said "strange things" appeared on the computer when he returned.

He is being held in Martin county jail on $250,000 bond. No word on any charges against the cat.

First post

I've finally decided to add my voice to the crowds of political blogger that seem to be everywhere these days. As the title (hopefully) suggests I don't intend on taking myself seriously or expecting much of it. Just a place to muse, rant, and pass on anything I find amusing.

If you want to comment, then say what you like, I've been around the internet long enough to develop a thick enough skin for it, and a reader is a reader, even if it is Martin Day (Hi Martin if you're reading this, sorry if I nicked a blog title you wanted).

About me, I'm young, a student, Lib Dem, Welsh/British (never had trouble identifying as both), and an avid sports and politics fan (and occasionally mix the two).

So wish me luck, here goes...