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I only think bloggers matter if they are picked up by the conventional media.

I'm not so sure Jennifer. I've seen the web transform my industry (personal financial services) beyond recognition in only 6 years. When people need immediate reaction to a financial story it is to the web they go. The print media is good for a more reflective analysis.
There is no reason why the same cannot be true of politics.
Remember the circulations of the national press have been in inexorable decline for some years whilst the web properties of the leading broadsheets are rising dramatically.
One thing that is certainly true of the web though is that there is little brand loyalty. If a competitor comes up with a better idea people will swith. Look at the change in fortunes between google and yahoo as evidence.
Therefore CH excellent though it is, cannot rest on its laurels as so many newspapers and magazines have. It must continue to evolve or die.

Where it falls down is when your Broadband connection fails - and BT inform you they may get back to you in 48 hours on teh fault that you have told them was on the line for the last few months!!! Ughh

On a serious note - with less people joining political parties it's not just a case of having to work harder - but work smarter.

If you can disseminate your message to thousands of people like Grant Shapps - then it saves time and money. You dont have to have the same manpower or money to print and deliver the leaflets.

Instead of having to get your story in the local paper (which you should still do) you can talk directly to people through blogging podcasting and the likes.

It's also a two way process - people feel involved because they can comment back. The interent has certainly changed the dynamics of political campaigning - I'd say for the better.

I agree with Jonathan. Makes life and access to/ from your population much easier for a politician.
But also the other plus side is that members of the public can voice their own concerns, start up on-line petitions, get easier access to decision makers and journalists, and increase pressure on leaders. Likewise for grassroots party membership!!!

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. I love blogging, read ConservativeHome more than would be considered healthy and was a keen advocate of a web site etc during the last election. I was rather proud I was the only candidate in Streatham to have a web site, but the truth is, the traffic was pretty minimal. For party leaders, the web and blogs are critical, without a doubt, for backbenchers and candidates, technology is not going to be a substitute for a good deal of hard slogging on the ground…

Of course the internet and blogging are having an effect, even in a small way at local levels. How many local papers, for instance, get the inspiration (and sometimes the words themselves via copy and paste) from the blogosphere.

I try my hardest to encourage local Conservatives, candidates, or councillors to set up blogs of their own, because effectively we are becoming the prime opposition in Labour trampled Tyneside, and there is nothing the die hard socialists like worse than their own record being torn to shreds worldwide on the internet.

James - you are right - but you do both. At the last General Election I put out around quarter of a million bits of paper - all of which had the campaign website on. At the point the number of hits on the website was significant but small.

MP's candidates and campaign groups who fail to attempt to build email lists etc really are missing a trick these days.

It's not just the ability to communicate that in enhanced by the internet - it's the speed. If there is something misleading in a local paper - it can be countered straight away - rather than having to wait for the next weeks edition.

The internet is a passing fad. In years to come we'll still be out knocking on doors to win votes when the internet is as long forgotten as Betamax or laserdiscs.

We should stick to what we do best and leave this kind of thing to timewasting students.

On what evidence do you base that Oliver? I think you're about as wrong as you can be.Most of my web customers are wealthy people aged 55 plus. Most are far more web aware than I am and spend significant amount of time on their PCs

Oliver - you made me laugh out loud

"The internet is a passing fad". I'm off to tune in my wireless.....

"Where it falls down is when your Broadband connection fails"

Don't you own a modem?

A dial up modem? No. I dont own a type writer either lol!

I had to resort to my vodafone card while the BT operator had me screwing the panel off the telephone socket!

Good lord, do you pay extra for that level of service?

Considering that this site did not exist a few years ago and is now a prime and expanding avenue of Conservatism and intra party idea exchange , I am inclined to agree .

Old style politicians , ie most of them , are rueful about the internet . Luckily , it cannot be reversed and has expanded the number of participating people - many of them very well informed and with shafts of perception far in excess of that which most of the conventional politicians are capable of - -- -

I particularly liked this remark
"The internet is a passing fad. In years to come we'll still be out knocking on doors to win votes when the internet is as long forgotten as Betamax or laserdiscs -"

a real beauty .

The internet has indeed changed politics for good . It has intruded into the monopoly of the political incrowd who have more in common with each other , regardless of party , than they have with the people they claim to represent . With a bit of luck it will destroy their monopoly .

Westminster Village had better get used to it .

It does feel a bit like the 1999-2000 dotcom bubble. The net is a vital tool for political anoraks but for the overall population, I think its impact is way, way overstated.

The net won't win elections, but it does massively help those who will be out on the streets doing the real work.

IMHO, only geeky political anoraks believe this hype because if they turned off their virtual world and took a stroll in the real world, you'll find one simple truth; the net hasn't changed people's concerns, and won't deliver the primary solutions, so how can it possibly win elections?

Chelloveck - I worked for a blue chip retailer and the internet changed the way the retail operation worked.

Ask small bookshops what they think of Amazon - it has changed the way people buy books (for better of worse).

Why do MPs like Grant Shapps spend time building email databases of their constituents if it does not help them communicate.

The internet alone of course won't win elections - by campaigners who ignore it are surely being very foolish.

I have sympathy with Chellovecks comments. I am from the youngish (mid 40s) generation that grew up with computers so I'm not negative to technology at all. I use the internet in my campaigns and it is of growing importance and yet it has to be seen in perspective. As Tim says it will be key to future election camapigns but I feel it is not necessarily the case it will fundamentally make democracy stronger, it might even make it shallower and weaker. I know I'm playing devils advocate here.

From what I've seen so far the blogoshere is not as positive a development as some claim. In some ways it doesn't engage directly with voters and it also tends to lack accountability. It lends itself to quick, reactionary and anonymous engagement and is highly susceptible to unrepresentative types who are prepared to post all day long. One of the dangerous trends in society has been the move away from direct face to face debate which has isolated politicians from the public. This has been made worse by elements in the media that exaggerate and simplify issues.

Such papers have to fill their growing number of pages every day with more info and in that process standards have gone down. The blogosphere is beginning to shape up as just more of that same phenonemon (Of course the media are historically a key part of keeping tabs on those that govern us but they have morphed into something else again). Indeed I wonder if society might be better off with a bit less "news". MPs could concentrate on getting the job done rather than sending PRs out and Parties could cut the spin and get on with governing.

Interestingly in supporting my case I have found that campaigning the traditional way ie on the streets, door by door, face to face is actually becoming more effective because people desperately want to engage properly with politicians. We need to re-build that vital partnership in which the public do more than just whinge ignorantly and we can talk straight to them and get across that issues can be more complexed than they are told to think by the "media". In some ways we are becoming a shallow anonymous electronic world, where people seem to know more about what is going on the other side of the world than the name of their next door neighbour. All contoversial stuff I know but more than a grain of truth,


Don't forget the internet's power to stimulate debate among people who would never normally meet. The potential to turn on a generation of people who would not normally be able to participate in political argument either because of lack of opportunity or because of fear of looking stupid or being afraid to learn is, I think, huge.

It restores an element of humanity and one-to-one that is missing from the MSM and from Parliament and most political campaigns.

That I think is the key to its power - rather than as a campaigning tool per se

I agree JS, for retailers it has been revolutionary (ignoring the mad valuations put on this change 7 years ago), and I am a huge net fan having made my first usenet forum post way back in Jan 1995 when it was considered simply a porn and academia tool by most (my interest not being the latter!), but the average citizen's primary concerns have not been changed by it one iota.

If for example there had been some measurable gain, like a reversal of the fall in party membership then it could be argued that the net is having a major impact, but it is not the case at all.

It's a great tool for activists and journalists. But let's not get carried away inside our own bubble.

If it's true that the next General Election is going to be decided on the net, Cameron might as well throw in the towel now. Much of the time he doen't even command majority support on Tory sites. God knows what they say about him on Labour blogs.

"The internet is a passing fad. In years to come we'll still be out knocking on doors to win votes"

Are you being serious? These days associations have enormous trouble getting decent numbers of people out to canvass.

I think the arguments on both side of the debate are right (god forbid I sound like a Lib Dem) There is no substitute to personal contact. There is no substitute to canvassing. BUT the internet can be complimentary.

You aren't allowed politics ads on TV here. Who can stop a political video on a candidates website?

I only have to look at my own personal life. I used to work for Royal Mail and remember how people used to moan at the cost of a letter. My dad lives in the US. I dont't write to him anymore. He messages me on skype and I can see him and talk to him through mic and webcam for free.

When large companies are moving their marketing efforts from TV to web that's a sign of them going where their customers are. Why would Boots accept paypal online if there wasn't more and more people shopping online.

The same is true of consumption of information. Much of it happens online. I look at the web for my news - yes the newspapers websites are included - but I dont have to buy them. That's why the Telegraph have revamped their online presence.

The web isn't the only communication channel out there - but it does provide a good "bang for buck" when you are looking at fixed costs for campaigns, and an membership whose age sometimes rules them out of some of the activities traditionally associated with campaigning.

Sure, I think we'd all agree that the net is a marvellous creation for all the reasons you quote and more, but in terms of its impact on politics, I can't help but think that the Editor is guilty of 'talking up his own book' as stockbrokers might say...

One example of its impact on politics.

Anyone can see how their MP voted and eveything they have said in the Commons. Before that was nearly impossible.

Incumbancy is a huges bonus. The downside is that due to the internet most people can find out pretty much eveything our elected representatives have said.

It pains me to say it, but CH knocks any Labour equivalent into a cocked hat.

Ask small bookshops what they think of Amazon - it has changed the way people buy books (for better of worse).

They've got Abebooks

Mind you the way Waterstones went downhill over the past few years you can see why Amazon is first port of call. I find it easier to find books on Amazon and to read reviews and their service is really good.

What I won't accept from retailers now is "We've none in stock but could get you one in 14 days".....if I can use the Net so can they

CH appears like a good thing and is very well constructed like a website but there are too many right-wing extremist being permitted to publish.

I move that all participants should be put through a questionare about racism homophobia and there support for the leader of our party.

Those who fail the questionare should be banned without question.

Can we ban people who suggest banning people?

Er, but not people who suggest banning people for suggesting banning people, obviously.

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