The Great Debate UK

UK political parties take mixed approach to social media


RachelGibson- Rachel Gibson is a professor at the Institute for Social Change in the University of Manchester. The opinions expressed are her own. -

The three main parties have clearly moved into full battle mode since the UK election campaign starting gun was fired on April 6th. And while the pounding of pavements and pressing of doorbells will no doubt be crucial in producing the swings needed in key marginal constituencies, the online technology driving these targeting efforts seems to have advanced a step or two since the last election.

Taking a leaf out of the Barack Obama presidential campaign management handbook, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats have all set up ‘hub’ sites on the web to recruit volunteers and spread their messages virally.

Labour’s effort – membersnet – and the more self-referential myconservatives and Lib Dem Act are all variants of the or ‘MyBO’ website as it was more affectionately known, launched in early 2007 by the then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate.

Tariq Ali on how unions fare under Labour rule


Amid a stand-off between British Airways and the Unite union, the Labour Party’s main financial supporter, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a planned strike by BA cabin crew workers “unjustified and deplorable” last week and said both sides should return to talks.

Rail signal workers in the RMT union are also threatening to strike, but haven’t announced a date.

Better public finance data may be sterling Trojan horse


Jane Foley
- Jane Foley is research director at The opinions expressed are her own.-

Finally UK monthly public finance data has brought better than expected news.  Not only was the net borrowing figure for February  better than expected but the January data was revised lower from 4.3 billion pounds to just 43 million pounds, taking the total for the fiscal year to date 131.9 billion pounds.

Rory Cellan-Jones on virtual democracy


Direct, real-time communication among politicians and the public through social media platforms is reshaping democracy and the news media, but questions remain about how the fabric of society might change as a result, argued a panel at an event hosted by the BBC on Tuesday evening at Westminster.

The Web provides a de-centralised opportunity for users to communicate from various points on the political-economic spectrum, but gatekeepers are emerging who try and curtail the dissemination of information they find objectionable, suggested panellist Aleks Krotoski, who recently completed work on the BBC series “Virtual Revolution“.

from UK News:

Jeremy Hunt unveils Tory technology platform

Jeremy HuntAs the three main UK political parties vie for positioning ahead of a general election to be held by June, the Conservatives unveiled their "Technology Manifesto" on Thursday in London outlining the key issues they would address if they form the next government.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude presented ideas on everything from improving broadband speeds to making government data accessible online.