Conservative Diary

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Tories set to launch groundbreaking campaigning website


Up until now the web operations of Britain’s big political parties have all been top down, command and control. That’s been true of the Conservatives as much as Labour.  WebCameron and Eric Pickles’ War Room Briefings are great but they amount to the party communicating to us. ‘Ask David’ – one of the few CCHQ initiatives that put power in the hands of punters – was cancelled.
Things may be about to change.

Over the summer I revealed that Samuel Coates - well-known to readers of this site as ConHome’s original Deputy Editor and more recently as speechwriter for DC - had taken up a new media role in the run-up to the election.  Sam is not a programmer but he gets the internet as a revolutionary mechanism for spreading power from elites to masses.  Understanding the internet's cultural power is the key to understanding 99% of the internet's potential.

I can’t say too much now but launching in time for the Manchester Party Conference will be the beginnings of the most sophisticated electioneering kit that any UK political party has ever launched.  It's far superior to Labour's MembersNet.  I’d go so far to say that it’s probably better than anything launched outside the USA.  One of Europe’s leading internet companies is helping it to happen.

I emphasise “beginnings” because not every feature is going to be launched immediately.  Functionality will be rolled out in waves.  Slowly but surely, however, the users of this new political toolkit will have all they need for campaigning for local candidates and single issues.

My own view is that the Conservative Party needs to become a lot more like a coalition of political interest groups and a lot less like a centralised, all-membership machine.  A little too late in my opinion – but hugely welcome nonetheless – the Tories may be about to launch the vehicle that will help them become a political party for the online age of looser affiliation and activism by people not ready to sign up as full party members.

ConHome will be giving a lot of time to help this initiative as soon as it launches.  I think it is going to be fun and Rishi Saha deserves congratulations for getting this initiative off the ground and for recruiting Sam to be its champion inside CCHQ and in the wider party.

Tim Montgomerie


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