Is Pickles right – there’s no substitute for personal contact?
Hardly a day goes by, it seems, without one grouping or another promising us great things “because of the internet”.
Look at this week. We had the launch of “The Jury Team” party where everything is supposed to happen magically because of the internet. Funding? No problem – we’ll raise money on internet. Finding and selecting candidates? No problem – it’ll all be done via the internet….and so on.
Then we have the week’s second new party, Libertas, saying virtually the same. so much is expected from the new media.
Haven’t we all become transfixed by Obama’s campaign in the US into assuming that somehow this is the solution to everything? But shouldn’t we probe a bit behind the Obama success and recall that he was building on a massive structure that had been established in 2003/2004 by Howard Dean. These things don’t suddenly happen overnight.
The reason that Dean and Obama were able to raise so much money using the new media is that there was an overwhelming single objective – the desire to kick the Republicans out of the White House after the Iraq war debacle.
So how does the Jury Team and Libertas proposition fit into that mould? It’s hard to see. You’ve got to have the cause properly defined first and then you go onto to find ways of communicating and interacting.
You hear this amazing faith in the new media from the mainstream parties too. There’s John Prescott rushing about talking about Twittering without putting it into its political context and how many votes is WebCameron going to swing?
I was quite impressed by some comments a few days ago by Tory chairman, Eric Pickles in a Telegraph interview.
He said: “Now one or two chumsâ€¦have rather fallen in love with what Obama did with the internet. That’s a bit like saying that Star Wars was all about visual effects – actually it worked very well on its narrative.” He believes that Barack Obama did not win the America election because voters were “befuddled” with the “tricks of the trade.” Instead, he said: “It’s because what he had to say had resonance on the doorstep. Folks understood what he was going to do, what kind of person he was. And that’s what we need to do.”
As the legendary Australian campaigner, Lynton Crosby, always says – “Message Matters Most”.