Digital Election 2010: taking political campaigns from the doorstep to the inbox

Gordon Brown.jpgBy Patrick Smith

How will the UK General Election this year be won? By getting The Sun to root for you, or being the party that has the most attractive policies, or the least gaffes?

Maybe when the date rolls around – perhaps in May – the winning party will be the one that connects with the most voters online. As we saw during Barack Obama’s extraordinary campaign last year – this could be an election that’s won from the ground up.

We’ll be talking about all these issues and more at a special On the Media event, Digital Election 2010, on February 16th. Our panelists include Guido Fawkes – aka blogger Paul Staines, Press Association’s digital strategy director Chris Condron and Alberto Nardelli, co-founder of Tweetminster. Our moderator for the evening is Sky News political correspondent Niall Patterson.

So while election leaflets abound and old-fashioned press coverage strategy remains paramount in Westminster, social networking looks set to play a serious role in who will be the next government.

Labour may be lagging the Tories in the opinion polls, but in terms of social media, it’s ahead: according to a report from Tweetminster, Twitter accounts held by MPs on the red side of the House have a total of 113,000 followers – more than the Conservatives and Lib Dems combined.

Though as our panelist Guido Fawkes points out, the elected politcian with the most followers is London’s Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, young voters are busy gathering supporters on Facebook: one group aims to find one million people who don’t want David Cameron as their next prime minister (123,000 are signed up so far), while a Conservative Party-run rival account – for people who do like DC – has just over 3,000 fans.

And how will the election be reported by news media when voters are happy to make their own minds up by interacting directly with politicians? Gone are the days when when old media had the monopoly on political scoops: Now Guido, Iain Dale and a host of London-based and regional blogs are taking MPs to task too.

This event is in association with the BBC College of Journalism.

Here’s that Tweetminster report on tweeting MPs, in full.

Twitter & UK Politics – a Tweetminster Report
Photo credit: World Economic Forum, via Flickr