I went along to last night’s political blogging event at the Telegraph, hoping to come away with ‘the answer’. And whilst it was a very enjoyable evening, I didn’t get my answer – but then again, I’m not sure we actually asked ‘the question’.
There was a lot of consensus. It’s influential rather than powerful (per se). The UK political parties are hopeless at it all. US politicians are more driven on this stuff, because their livelihoods depend on the cash it generates. There’s widespread paranoia about legal action (more than I expected). It’s good to give the grassroots a say. An election would have been fun. Etc etc.
But to put it bluntly, so what? I was struck by the number of people I spoke to afterwards who considered themselves ‘political’, and clearly put a lot of time and effort into their political blogging, but weren’t actively involved in party politics. There’s a large and currently untapped resource of energy and motivation. But the parties (certainly the Big Two) don’t seem too bothered about tapping it. There’s no sense that a new political force is set to emerge from the blogosphere… despite the fact that some – the BNP, the Greens, the LibDems even – clearly need the boost it could/would bring.
So all that really leaves is ‘marketing’. For individuals, broader name recognition, broader influence and ultimately, you have to assume, the offer of a safe seat. For the media, an acceptance that politics has gone bloggy, and they have to be active in it to maintain their brands. All of which is fairly selfish and short-term. If there’s a long-term revolution on the cards, I didn’t get the sense that anyone knew what it would be, or when we’d see it.