It’s my understanding that next general election must be held by the first week of next June, and might be called sooner. This is a terrific opportunity to observe the voters, parties and government of a highly educated, bandwidth-rich nation as they engage with social media under election pressure.
I won’t pretend to provide anything like a comprehensive survey, because there are dozens of relevant sites. What’s happening in the UK is at least as sophisticated as President Obama’s pioneering campaign efforts (which clearly inform the efforts of all the contending British parties). Forgive a laundry list of sites, but… here’s a laundry list: The Conservative Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, UKIP, the SNP and the BNP. I didn’t register at any of the sites, but it looks like nearly all of them host online communities for members; note the features of Labour’s community. The Conservatives have an online communities editor.
Nearly all the parties are on Twitter: Here are the Conservatives (11,035 followers as of last weekend). Labour appears to maintain two sites, here (5,050) and here (1.688). The Liberal Democrats (4,358). The Green Party (4,218). The BNP (883). UKIP (138). I was unable to find a Twitter account for the SNP, and found no link on the party’s homepage.
Institutional government is well-represented. Such sites are not formally part of the electoral scrum, but I expect they’ll look a lot different after the election than they look today, no matter which party wins. First, the celebrated DirectGov, HM’s government portal. Here’s No. 10 on the web, and on Twitter (498,324). Parliament on the web; Parliament on Twitter (11,210). Here’s Parliament on Facebook. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t find No. 10’s Facebook page (shouldn’t be this hard grumble grumble), but the PM himself is the subject of this semi-official page. Here is the Conservative Party on Facebook. Here’s Young Labour, but I couldn’t find the Labour Party’s page.
I ran out of gas before exploring other media, but nearly all the organizations listed above also offer links to YouTube, Flickr and other SM platforms. Professionally speaking it’s the sites above, and other official sites like them, that offer GovLoopers the most information about how British institutions are adapting to the Brave New Network, and I’ll be keeping an eye on all of them as the election nears, but I’m really interested in the unofficial side of the equation: How are the British people employing social media among themselves as the election nears? It’s been many years since I regularly spent time across the pond, so I’m not at all familiar with the current state of social media in British political culture. I know that our cousins are represented on GovLoop, and I’m hoping that one or two of our British members will offer some guidance as to where UK voters are organizing themselves online in preparation for the election.
This page, although titled “10 Downing Street,” is actually a public call for concerned citizens to petition the government on various topics; at the moment it has 42 members. I know there’s more action out there, I just don’t know where. Surely the home of the Mother of Parliaments is producing some interesting real-life examples of (ugh) Gov 2.0–any tips?