Last week, Anthony Painter launched a Digital Election Analysis he wrote for Orange. A key conclusion was the that the eager awaited ‘Digital Election’ we had all been expecting (after the fantastic Obama ’08 campaign) simply failed to materialise, and it was TV wot hung it. My thoughts on the events were blogged elsewhere. However, since Sunny has just posted his provisonal Blog Nation programme, I will offer a quick addendum to my earlier thoughts here, which is simply that it is the Labour Leadership Election which will prove to be the Digital Election we have all been waiting for.
I note that David Miliband is becoming prolific at posting AudioBoos (short podcasts, for those not yet up to speed); and Ed Miliband’s campaign team are turning around a particular type of on-the-hoof, off-the-cuff campaign video with efficiency. Tom Watson MP, former Minister for Digital Engagement, is running Ed Balls campaign, so I am sure we will see some innovative uses of social networking courtesy of the man from West Bromwich. All the candidates seem to have Twibbons, an innovation which I fucking hate but others seem to enjoy.
The difference here, compared to the General Election campaign in April, is time. Much like Barack Obama’s gruelling journey to the White House, the campaign for the Labour leadership will be a drawn-out affair. It will allow all five candidates to experiment with the different technologies on offer, and develop a deeper and more sophisticated conversation with their party… and each other. Groups like Compass, The Fabians, LabourList, Left Foot Forward and, of course, Liberal Conspiracy, will also be able to plan and launch multiple interventions, as will entirely independent initiatives like the unofficial Ed Miliband for Labour Leader campaign. Who knows, we may even see some ‘swift-boating’ or negative campaigns, like #KerryOut – the doomed attempt to unseat Kerry McCarthy MP from Bristol East through the medium of Twitter.
The next hustings event is tonight, and is hosted by the Fabians. Expect your Twitter streams to be cluttered with multiple, competing commentaries. Expect images and video to pop up online before the weekend. There will be no spin room where Machiavellis, Mountebanks and Madelsons can suck our attention away from the substance of what is being said, and the digital commentary will count for much more that it did during the #LeadersDebates in the spring. This is the Digital Election we have been waiting for, so get stuck in.