Analogue Politicians in a Digital Age

I’m pinching David Cameron’scatch-phrase onGordon Brown for the title of this blog, but it seems very relevant to describe Orange’s Future of Politics report which was published earlier this week. This is a great reportwhich argues for UK politicians, our political structures, Parliament and political parties of the need to “embrace the digital age to re-energise and transform democracy” and begin a “digital golden age of Parliament”.

I acknowledge that our politicians are representatives of all the British people, including the fewwho don’t have access to broadband, don’t use social media or even own a mobile handset. However, I don’t think anyone doubts the need for UK politicians and their institutions to adapt to the digital age – although many people (particularly some of those working in Parliament) like its Victorian ways and traditions. But a modern and effective democratic institution needs to shed its ‘club’ image that the vast majority of citizens can’t and don’t associate themselves with. As the report acknowledges, new technology and media still feel a bit tacked on to existing structures and approaches. The Number 10 Downing Street e-Petition siteand YouTube channel are welcome developments in the right direction though.

Some of the ideas within the report are perhaps a big ask (for example a 3D virtual Parliament). However, I think of real significance is the use of social media to galvanise and organise political opinions (particularly around single-issues) and as a platform to raise funding. We already know how the Government feels about social media in politics: it is distinctly uncomfortable with it. But this is undoubtedly how some politicians are beginning to engage with their supporters, constituents and (dare I say it) colleagues. The report also makes much of Barak Obama’s much-heralded ‘text-book’ online campaigning during the 2008 US Presidential election and the large amount of small donations he received via social media. Obama built relationships with people before asking them for money.

UK politicians should definitely sit up and take note of this report. Otherwise they’ll remain firmly entrenched in a world that no one else but themselves actually recognise. Change or wither.

  • I strongly agree with you and this is not the only subject in Britain but also other countries.
    I believe Internet brought a real economic revolution and brought a really feeling of free economy to the people all around the world. The politicians not with the gadgets but with the hearts should become technoready.