Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are the Tories winning the "webby engagement" game?

Most politicians these days get worried about "engagement" and it's led to many MPs getting blogs or joining Twitter. Labour even created their own "Twitter Tsar" Kerry McCarthy MP, who regularly makes a complete fool of herself in 140 characters but I digress.

One of the areas that both parties have tried to tackle is engaging on websites, in the case of Labour it launched, then relaunched something called Labourspace of which our favourite misandrist*, Kerry McCarthy said the following,
I’m also particularly excited by LabourSpace. As a site it gives NGOs and individuals the chance to bring their campaigns to the direct attention of our manifesto coordinator, Ed Miliband, who regularly looks at the site and comments on there and then meets with the quarterly winners to discuss their campaigns in more detail. We need to do more to get people using the site but for me it’s a sign that the Party wants to use the internet for real engagement.
Real engagement huh? Currently there are five "campaigns" on the site open for voting from us, the plebs, over the next 77 days. Total votes? Well, look for yourself.
So, voting has been going for 13 days (since the beginning of January to be precise) and so far have had a colossal response of 9 votes (one presume that one would be from the campaign organiser and the rest from their mates).

Yay for engagement!

Now compare that with the Tories use of the "webby engagement" in relation to their rather disappointing Health Manifesto which I moaned blogged about at the beginning of January.

They opened their draft manifesto up for questions and comment at the same time that Labourspace's latest round of policy initiative started, for which 2,612 people have submitted 1,110 questions and cast 40,200 votes.

Quite an interesting comparison given the order of magnitude difference in their figures no?

Now, I don;t know what the Lib Dems are doing in this sort of game to be fair, I'm sure former staffer/blogger Mark Pack might be able to tell us of course (I know you read me Mark! ;)), but on the face of it between the two main parties at least it seems that the Tories are certainly getting something right in their strategy for engaging online.

The strategy by all accounts is something too, for the Tories at least, that comes straight form the top, as Cameron himself told Andrew Marr,
"We have got to open it up, and we’re going to try all sorts of ways – including using lots of innovative stuff on the internet – of getting people involved."
Fair play, really. He said they wanted to do it, and the evidence suggests that they have in comparison to their main opponent.

Of course, it could be that the 40,000+ votes and 1000+ are just activists talking amongst themselves and not your average bloke that does dreary day job that he wishes he didn't have too. However - even if that is the case - at least their base is involved, which is more than can be said for their opponents who appear to be running campaigns of the one, by the one and for the one.

* Note, Kerry McCarthy MP, when challenged over anything will, if her challenger is a man, simple brush aside that challenge as the spouting of a misogynist, so it's only fair to offer the same in response and refer to her as a misandrist. Tit, tat.... (more tit shurely, or is that misogynist? - Ed)

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