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Will Digital Really Shake Up the Political World Soon?

Will Digital Really Shake Up the Political World Soon?

As schools and colleges get settled back into their autumn terms and new academic years, the world of politics follows suit.

Once famous for rank and file members encountering the party bigshots and policies being hammered out in public, the political parties usually have their various conferences in different locations about the country.

Years ago they were always at seaside towns such as Blackpool, Brighton, Eastbourne. Bournemouth because with summer tourists gone, such resorts made a packet out of taking political devotees in September and October.

More recently such events have moved to the big cities like Birmingham and Manchester.

But wherever events are held, they are often nowadays excuses for corporate hospitality, media circuses and business opportunities as much as politics.

So, What’s the Tech Angle?

It took all British parties ages to grasp the significances and changes that the digital period has brought. Now they are very much alive to new possibilities.

Sharon Housely of makes a number of suggestions about how technology will influence politics in the next few years, and raises questions that will be answered in time.

She asked back in 2008:

  • ‘Can, and will, the next generation of politicians exploit the communication mediums available to them?
  • Will the new communication mediums have the power to influence public opinion?
  • Will politicians be the victims of technology, or will they use it to their benefit?
  • Will one party benefit from the use of the technology more than another?’

Since then we have seen

….. the phenomenal growth of  social media driving everything from advertising to entertainment, TV to writing

….. 24 hour news that feeds on itself in a relentless hunger for the new and the now and fresh angles

….. Politicos who are exploiting modern networks and devices along with the best and youngest best of everyday people

….. The strange concepts of things like YouTube, where everybody directs their own movies and life views; podcasts and derivatives where everybody is an expert; wikis where people write their own versions of factual reality and the aberrations of trolls, abusers and a darker side.

…… The advent of epetitions, electronic voting in legislatures and eventually in polling stations.

Housely wrote about fundraising, news power to political pundits and how views taken by politicians may change over time, but the web never forgets. You could say, it also never forgives. She firmly believes that technology is changing the face of politics in America, but the remarks are applicable on our side of the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, Candidates Beware

The Conservative Party has become the first of the major British set-ups to demand that wannabe MPs disclose the most embarrassing things a web browser is likely to find about them online.

And they want to know now, before they are accepted as party candidates.

Already employers and public bodies carry out basic online background checks on applicants. What have they recorded of themselves on Facebook, what have they tweeted, what videos are around that would be better not seen by the voters`?

Already a youth police commissioner, Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps MP and Labour MP Chuka Umunna have been caught by the online past affecting their living present.

The young person resigned in tears after having offensive Twitter remarks made public. Shapps hung on, mumbling some vague apology for using a fake name to promote business. Umunna was accused over online comments before he became an MP and of falsifying his exam results in his Wikipedia entry.

So, do you think technology is a good or bad thing for a profession/trade – politics – that has as much popularity and credibility as estate agents, tax inspectors and traffic wardens in this country? Will it help clean it all up and make everything transparent or just made it easier to hide bad things?

Have your say now by email, blog response, text, Facebook, Twitter … vote your opinions to us.

Check out some of these bits of data and information:

The Rise of iDemocracy, the Fall of Big Brother Thanks to Digital Technology, 17 October 2012

21st Century Electioneering and High-Tech Obama Vote Grabbing, 13 November 2012

The Protest-Agitation Movement Is Becoming An Armchair Activity, 15 April 2013

British Election Circuses Set for Digital Revolution, May 2012

Image: Alvesgaspar