Monday, 12 April 2010


The right to vote is an incredibly important one, and having always ensured I have done so in the past I look forward to May 6th this year and pledging my allegiance to a party.
Whilst election campaigns have always held my interest in the past, this is the first one I find myself eagerly anticipating as we enter what a lot of people are naming the country’s first ‘digital election’. For the first time people are not as concerned where the paper’s political preference lies (perhaps someone should have told The Sun having recently switched their allegiance to the Conservatives) and instead turning to social networks and online polls to help them make their decision.
Anyone looking to prove social media’s sway in politics need only turn to the passing of the ‘Digital Economy Bill’ last week. Among many other things, the Bill supports compulsory internet disconnection for persistent internet pirates and making owners of publicly accessible wi-fi hotspots liable for piracy committed on their connections. For such an important bill it seemed astonishing that 419 MPs failed to turn up, twitter was abuzz with the event with the hashtag #debill allowing all to vent their thoughts. As Martin Bryant’s states in his blog about the event, a Twitter backchannel in the House of Commons may have helped proceedings greatly allowing the thoughts of the public to be viewed by those in parliament. A nice idea, but I doubt it will happen any time soon with fears of hijacking the tag - ensuring it is too big a risk to currently be taken.
So it is clear social media is set to be pivotal in the election, just as it was in the US when Obama utilised social networks to raise 87% of his funding.
Therefore I thought it may be fun (and a little relevant) to liken each political party to a social network – as I found the similarities that some of them share, quite frankly, very astonishing. Here are the parties as I view them in my digital election:

Labour as Facebook: One of the nation’s most popular social networks for some time a lot of people are voicing that it may be time for a change. The network itself echoes this sentiment amending its format in the past to keep up with other networks and promising to pioneer in the future. The networks strong fundamentals cannot be argued with (neither can Labour’s core pledges with ‘raising family standards’ and ‘building a high tech economy’ on the list). Whether it is to be the network of the future or yet remains to be known, but for now it remains one of the biggest and, whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t resist having a look.

Conservatives as MySpace: Undisputedly recognised network for its features and facilities, whether or not it be the social network of your choosing you cannot deny it does hold appeal. However a lot of money as been spent on what is a major re-haul of the network and you wonder if some of the rather astonishingly startling features it promises to deliver (be it the Conservatives marriage tax incentive or economy pledge for 2010) you wonder if it will feasibly deliver.

Liberal Democrats as Twitter: A newer kid on the block grantedly, but one that has just as much to offer as MySpace and Facebook. It is often a network that you feel can undoubtedly do the most for ‘you’ offering you more of a say (such as the lib dems pledge to change laws on corporate takeover so that if another Kraft event should occur the UK economy would be rewarded.) A social network that may perhaps have a smaller following but those who are users are unwaveringly passionate and loyal.

And so the comparisons could continue – the geographical emphasis means FourSquare could easily be likened to the Green Party and, with its brash offering and reems of press coverage, the Official Raving Monster Party holds vast comparisons to the social media’s most controversial offering of the year – Chatroulette.

So, where my final vote lies in the digital election is yet to be decided. All I can say is that I agree all of the networks have worthy features that make them fine candidates and, as a voter; it is my job to be as involved with all until the day to vote arrives next month.


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