- 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 MyBarackObama.com or ‘MyBO’ website as it was more affectionately known, launched in early 2007 by the then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate.
While the value of MyBO in terms of votes and dollars delivered is still the subject of some debate, it clearly represented something new and different in the field of campaign management, offering ordinary voters a do-it-yourself toolbox to help their candidate.