Is the UK ready for Politics 2.0?

Mark Hanson has an interesting article on The Guardian’s commentisfree… asking if Britain is ready for politics 2.0. It’s well worth a read if you’re interested in PR and social media, even if you’re not particularly political.

I’m not sure if I agree with all of Mark’s analysis, but the gist of it is probably true. I’m not sure that “The main stumbling block is the leap of faith that involves giving more power to the people”, as it’s much more complex than that. In a democratic system people already have the power. What we don’t want to do is let the most vocal, active and engaged people to unduly influence policy.

In order to give power to the people you have to be able to engage with them.

It’s hard work to find out and think about lots of issues in sufficient detail in order to be able to make an informed decision. Lots of people don’t want to be that involved, so what happens is a much smaller group of people dominate the discussion. These people are informed, but usually come at it from a specific and extreme view point, which doesn’t always reflect the views of the majority who aren’t as vocal.

I’m very enthusiastic about embracing politics 2.0, but think the biggest barrier is being able to encourage sufficient people to engage and participate. If people/voters are willing to engage, then politicians will change and respond to that.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://www.greenbanana.wordpress.com Heather Yaxley

    In a democracy the people elect representatives to supposedly exert political power on their behalf through parliament. The power is only loaned.

    The value of politics 2.0 is that it should enable more fine tweaking of this relationship than casting a vote once every 4-5 years on some broad mandate.

    Traditionally, most people only ever hear from their representatives next time they want a vote – and then rarely directly (leaflets or those canvassing on their behalf are more likely).

    It would be nice to think politicians see social media as an opportunity to build relationships with constituents more continuously – but it would be good if this is not simply online (where again it may well be delegated to others).

    Online media can also make it easier for those who want to connect – even if it is just over a specific issue at a particular time.

    I agree entirely that those who have other forms of power – be it through their ability to control communications (eg media owners, the articulate or the lobbying community) or their economic might – can dominate discussions.

    We need to make it as easy as possible for ordinary people to have their views heard and opinions counted.

    New media is one way of doing that – but should not be seen as the easy option when it excludes many people who would still prefer better connection at the local, personal level.

  • Mark Hanson

    A good place to start though is party members. For example if they are able to quiz people who run campaigns at HQ, feed back comments from canvassing and see them actually go towards influencing policy or campaign messaging then that would enthuse the grass roots and could be achieved by web 2.0. However it needs the politicians to actually allow it….