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I've got a feeling that CCHQ will be even less keen on the internet once they move from opposition to government.

The concept poses an interesting question:
Should it exist standalone, but acknowledged by cognoscenti as a "dark" secret that it has political party affiliations?
Should a loosely affiliated political site (not the CCHQ site, but maybe this one or if not appropriate another one set up for such a purpose) be set up as a portal for as many single issues as it wishes to track with the overriding principle that its fact publication be as scrupulous as possible and divorced from comment? Comments can be made on fact, but the distinction needs to be made which is which. A lot of work but if the reputation is built up early and the portal becomes a type of political Wikipedia reference site, potentially very useful for attracting informed comment, which builds a momentum of its own.


I’m sure you have one or two friends in the political press corps. At the forthcoming Obama-Brown press conference, perhaps you might like to suggest that they ask this question….

Prime Minister – Do you stand by your often repeated claim that the global downturn both started in America and was Washington’s fault?

Alternatively they could ask president Obama if he agrees with Gordon Brown’s analysis that the global downturn both started in America and was Washington’s fault..?

It would be interesting to see if Brown had the courage to stand by his weasel words; my guess is - he wouldn’t. In which case, would he ever be able to repeat the phrase ‘it all started in America’ ever again?

NB: Sorry for posting off-topic.

Didn't I read that Eric Pickles doesn't even use email in his Parliamentary office? Whilst personal contact is important, he does sound a bit Luddite on this. There is a lot to be gained using online methods.

I totally agree with Tim (and it's not often I do that!)

Eric's comments, which I have in front of me, should worry us all.

It'll be a few generations before the political classes 'get' the internet.

Maybe they'll use it, but probably only as a straight substitute for traditional method.. and often when that happens it is more awkward to get the exact same result online so they see it as pointless.

Just like my internet banking at one place where they say it's great as it lets you view your statement sheets online.

Politics will be dominated by the internet within ten years. I hope the Tories don't end up having to play catch up.

It is true that the Internet has it's place along with all the other communication tools (because that is all it is).

However, if it is allowed to become dominant then politics will become a shadow of itself. The internet is no replacement for personal contact. If politics ever does become dominated by the internet then our political system will become an irrelevance......

We won't be wondering whether turnouts will exceed 60% anymore, we will be wondering whether they will exceed 30%.

Don't let those with vested interests kid you. If they win politics loses in the long run.

Given the mess CCO has made of Merlin we should be grateful for them not doing any more internetty things.

Obama's internet campaign should be reviewed, dissected and thoroughly understood. There must be elements we can take forward.

For me the Obama campaign had two effective threads. Firstly building support and secondly delivering cash in small (relatively) sums the total of which was more than sufficient.

And people here were championing for him to become Chairman....

@ H Taylor,

Eric is quite tech savvy personally as it happens.

He certainly loves all the new gadgets.

Eric is one of the most internet savy politicans about. Take a look at his website to see how up to date it is. I often see him posting on this site, and I took part in his live internet blog from the Crewe by-election. I'm not sure how anyone could think he wasn't web savy. The comment about him not having an email address is ludicrous. I take it the comment was from a Labour troll.

If Mr Pickles is the organising genius he is feted as, I would have thought that as required reading he would have at his fireside the reports written by various pundits over the effective use of the net by the Obama Campaign in both the Democratic Candidate and presidential campaigns. A major lesson is that, if nothing else, well-run and publicised sites enthuse the politically inactive 20/30 somethings upwardly mobile skilled and professional classes-exactly the people Conservatism should appeal to. We desperately need more representation at this level. Be-Blazered veterans trailing a faint but pervasive odour of wintergreen, such as myself, are still the core of doorstepping and the local party. We can relate to a sizeable part of the population, and Mr Pickles no doubt relates to us. I would suggest that to the majority of the electorate, we are relics of a bygone age, to be wondered at, but not to be taken seriously in their daily lives. I am not suggesting that Mr Pickles is given a coal-fired, steam-driven PC for his personal use. I am suggesting that as a manager he gets a grip of the principles and potential of the net as a force-multiplier then winds up a body of net geeks to deliver the goods for 2010.

I am worried that Obama's team will help Labour lead on the internet. That may not matter for the next election but future elections will be closer.

Hear, hear Tim. Newspaper readership consistently falls year on year and is now worryingly bad amongst under 35 s in every social class.
It is quite difficult to engage these people with doorstep politics. The internet provides a solution. Pickles would be an absolute fool to ignore it.

Is anybody suggesting that the internet should 'become dominant, or take over'?

I think the set-up as it is at the moment, could continue adequately. One can't compare running a political party in the UK, with doing the same in the States, they seem able to 'come by' much more funding there, whereas we have to run things on a shoestring - well Labour has the TU's. And if one of the Labour trolls pipes up with 'what about Lord Ashley?' - it just proves how effective THIS site is - that they spend so much time on it!

Oh, and I meant to say, Jonathan @ 10.19 I liked your suggestion, I fear everybody will be very circumspect. It might be appropriate if a US newspaper mentioned, Brown's endless claim!!

Elections are won or lost in the newspapers and on television not on the internet. The internet can have some influence but only a minority one and if the party leadership want to use resources sensibly they will concentrate on getting the message across through the t.v. and newspapers as that is where you will get your message heard by a cross section of people.
Those who take an interest in politics through the net are the decided and the committed not those floating voters who decided elections.

Why buy a paper? Read it on the net. Something interests you, google it and follow through. Those who have good SEO will attract a following.
If you are good enough, people will take a RSS feed off you for things that interest them. Monitor RSS , see what gets people going (open to abuse I will concede)
Where do people get their opinion-forming info today is the question that needs to be asked? Depending on how you answer that,will inform your strategy.

Traditional and internet campaigning are not mutually exclusive. We should do both.

If you want to contact young people the internet etc is essential.

Well, for 500k I'd turn Coolservative.com into a tool for CCHQ that would raise millions with its 'yoof' appeal.

I'm not one to let politics get in the way of making money... ;-)

Raj at 1704 ":And people here were championing for him to become Chairman"

Why on earth are those here so keen on people they clearly don't know and those who NOW say he's a luddite why didn't they say so before.

What's wrong with this apology for a party./ Osborne playing "Winnie the Pooh" (the 'bear with very little brain') going on about a` man whose pension pales into insignificance compared with the horror stories of government promises not kept and gambles involving the whole net worth of our country. And on these he has no comment. And our leader has only one reason that one should vote for him, namely that he's the ONLY sure way of getting rid of Brown. Frying pans and fires come to mind.

Agree, we need a blend of all available techniques. Except for loud speakers on Robin Reliants perhaps.....

Oooops - should that perhaps have been loudspeakers?

The internet is gaining more and more importance as a tool but not everyone uses it. So we have a responsibility to make the best use of the internet as we can, but also to not alienate those who aren't net savvy, (maybe give them a helping hand to get online to places like CH) and not to forget the tried and trusted ways as well.

We've seen how online campaigns can be effective. Learn from that and keep learning. If you have a tool it's stupid not to use it but don't over rely on it.

Doorstep campaigning and overall political message are much more important, he says.

Oh, so Cameron's team thinks ordinary members are worth having after all. Presumably any alienation resulting from not trusting them to choose their own candidates, or as policy extremists to be shouted down as soon as they dare to evince any difference of opinion with the Conservative (or indeed Labour) leadership, was purely accidental.

It saddens me that at a time when our True Blue blog-masters are streets ahead of the opposition our CCHQ ICT bods are in such poor state. Remember when Maude was Chairman? He acknowledged then that the Conservative Party website was dire and assured me that an imporvement was imminent. Not much improvement there.
Then there is Merlin! Unlike other magicians it is Merlin himself rather than his subjects that keeps disappearing, just when we think that they have got it sorted at last.
No wonder Eric is sceptical about the value of the internet. But he is wrong in that, and it is not often that can be said of Eric!

Come on you lot, show some political sus. Eric Pickles knows all too well the power of internet campaigning but is rightly concerned that it may be done at the expense of doorstep work which remains, and always will, the best way to guarantee success at the polls. He is also bound to be worried about keeping control of internet campaigning which by its very nature develops a life of its own, which can be both good (Obama) and bad (Draper).

"doorstep work which remains, and always will, the best way to guarantee success at the polls"
Why? Is it really the only best, or now one of a number of best ways? I don't know the answer and I wouldn't devalue the personal touch at all - which is missing from so many "contact-transactions" today. I would argue that in some areas, Internet is better, in others, it is a waste of time. Directing resources efficiently means getting that right.

I have worked as an activist in every election for the last 10 years. I have gone from a staunch defender and advocat of the traditional doorstep approach to a sceptic. The reason is experience. I have seen neighbouring seats with almost identical demographic backgrounds, majorities and opponents (eg straight Labour fights) perform almost identically despite two completely different levels of campaigning. One was the model - ticked every box from known canvass, regular and universal leafletting, exceptional telephone campaigning, high level of postal votes to known pledges - you name it. The other seat was almost moribund, and frankly did nothing. They got the same result, in fact the slightly larger swing went to the inactive seat.

Increasingly I am finding more and more hostility to door to door work. People are far less tolerant to what they see as intrusion, be it in face or even on the phone. People also get angry when you drop leaflets.

It seems to me we are living in an age where people don't want to be approached, they want to find out themselves when it suits via the internet.

Personally I take great offence when I am called at home in the early evening, by a cold caller. Are politcal parties any better in trying to flog a message?

Isn't better to hold a street stall and allow people who want to, come to you, and put up lots of updated info on the web, so those, like me, who prefer to be in control of when and where they get their political message, can choose.

The internet has given consumers / voters control. People's habits are changing - I think its time political campaigning changed.

For too many people, the old campaigning methods are a drug they can't get off. I also think that for many they feel that they have to be seen to be doing it, or even as a justification to themselves.
For many web based alternatives are ruled out, because they dont want to admit that they don't know how to do it themselves.
I don't think this is the case with Eric Pickles, but his audience at the Conservative Councillors conference, lets face it, will be those considerable number of retired councillors, who can go to such conferences, as opposed to the few younger councillors, like me, who have to juggle family, work and roughly 15 hours a week on council duty.

I think it is a question of balance. E-mail, texting and the internet is great. We do however have to recognise that large numbers of people, particularly elederly people do not use computers and even if they do they may not like to engage politically with them. many other people may only use computers at work. Another important issue is e-mail addresses. How many association offices have good e-mail lists? I know from experience that even the bluest of blue constituencies do not have many e-mail addresses of non party members.

While the Party needs to work harder on all of the above, it needs also to get out there pounding the streets, knocking on doors, holding street stall, public petitions and all the other great things that show a vibrant local Conservative Party willing to engage face to face with the people.

Tim - 100% agree with you (for once!!) Mr. Pickles should read: The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott - it is just as relevant to politics as it is to business. Get real Mr. Pickles!! these comments have really made me question my previously held belief that he is the right man for the job

It never ceases to amaze me the still relatively large numbers of people that don't realise the impact the internet is having and will have over the next 5 years.

Eric Pickles is absolutely right that door to door must continue at the election, these are the sales team and without them you will not get to many of the people on inner city estates etc.

However it is vital for the Tories to invest heavily in the internet and I trust a savvy communicator like Cameron is ensuring this is in process

But Tim - online campaigning means surrendering elements of control of the message to the faceless masses.

Of course politicians don't like that.

Tim (or Monty if you would prefer),

It is clear that a Conservative campaign needs a modern balance of methods - face to face, telephone and online - for different voters.

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