From this morning’s Grauniad, Dave Cameron takes to the web:
David Cameron will today unveil radical plans to harness the power of the internet by reaching out to a blogging generation that is disaffected and disconnected from mainstream politics. At the heart of the initiative, which is designed to make the Tories one of the most technologically progressive parties in Europe, is “webcameron” – a website for video blogs by their leader.
Well, it’s a nice idea but let down by an ugly pun of a name. Why they went for that, when they could have gone for the much more amusing “BlueTube”, I don’t know. Anyway, full devastating critique to follow…
Update: OK, I went there – very Web 2.0ish design, they’ve got tagging, while there no mention of the word ‘Conservative’ on the front page at all – and watched the current featured video. And to be honest, it’s not a bad piece of work. It’s obviously been carefully set up and framed; Dave is in the kitchen, one of his young children in the background, doing the washing up – very much the intimate portrait of a family man, caring man image – there’s even a bottle of Ecover bandied about to keep the Waitrose-shopping lot happy. But despite the blatant scenesetting, he still comes across as an OK guy, if he weren’t a Tory; it confirms the suspicion that while I probably wouldn’t want to take David Cameron for a pint down my local pub, he’d be at least tolerable company if you met him at a dinner party.
However, I somehow doubt that David Cameron is going the next LonelyGirl; the Conservatives (and to be fair, most other political parties and campaigns) still really don’t yet get how the internet is being used these days; sermons from the Great Leader work for a certain demographic but it still does nothing to alter the public perception that Cameron is just the smooth-talking, cuddly face of a horde of fusty undesirable old-fashioned Tories, nor does it help alter the current political mindset that is focused around individual leader that the public is rapidly tiring of.
What would be a lot more fun would be not to get the leader doing the occasional piece to (a professional-quality) camera but give ten or twenty Conservative activists, MPs and candidates of all ages and demographics proper bog-standard webcams, make them do an unrehearsed piece once or twice a week when in their bedroom (preferably at the end of their working day) and stick it on YouTube; allow people to make comments (constructive or not), and post video responses back. Would it win an election? Nope. But it would be a lot more honest and refreshing, totally different from how campaigns are currently centralised and micromanaged, and would be a much better way of showing the public who a political party is, and what they are really made of.