Monday, 4 January 2010

Thanet and the general election and how the two main parties are using the internet.

As I suppose everyone must know 2010 is to be an election year when we elect our MPs and I am wondering, as a floating voter where I will put my X.

As I see it the electorate in the UK is segmented into two main groups, those who always vote for a particular party and therefore really make no difference and those who don’t and therefore have to make some sort of decision.

The decision making group then further segment into those who live in constituencies that are so dominated by one party that their vote makes no difference and those like Thanet South, where the votes of those of us who don’t always vote the same way actually have some effect of what party eventually governs the country.

I haven’t worked it out but suspect that people who fall into this group are probably in the order of 10% of the electorate.

It’s a peculiar system and one that seems to encourage a lot of the electorate not to vote, but it is the system that we have and with the election looming the only one we have to use.

Here there is also the Thanet factor, which is a sort of mixture of the following:

Considerable disaffection with the local Conservative council administration.

A relatively strong internet community the political part being mostly blog based, seemingly stronger than any other area in the southeast and something that already has an effect on conventional local media.

Presumably this must have some sort of effect on how local people will vote here in Thanet, in fact I think it would be fair to say that this election will be more effected by the internet than any other, so in the first instance I though I would have a look to see how the main political parties were web wise.

So to start with local Labour and Conservative associations and election candidates websites and blogs.

Labour first

The local Labour association website.

Top ranking on Google for the phrase “Thanet Labour”

This website seems to have last been updated in 2008, it has no feeds so there is no way that anyone can subscribe to, nor is any way I can put some sort of live updating link on this blog so you can see if it ever gets updated.

Next the Thanet South MPs site

Fifth ranking on Google for the phrase “Thanet Labour”

This is a very sophisticated website with feeds (updates appear on my sidebar) KIA survey on the homepage, video hosted on site with some linking to social networking via facebook.

A bit of a deeper delve suggests that despite this being a sophisticated and expensive site the last press release went up last October. The sidebar announces: Whats new this week - 28/4/08, also a bit peculiar.

Interestingly this site has a place where people can leave comments at a couple of thoughts here, first I find it quite strange that no one has commented here since April 2009 and second this is quite a bold move by any MP, so please don’t abuse it as we are better of with it than without it.

Thanet North Labour candidate

Seems to have a non existence web presence.

The local Conservative associations

North Thanet Conservative Association

Second ranking on google for the phrase “Thanet Conservative”

This site is nothing but a holding page for the url the main link is directed at the North Thanet MPs site.

South Thanet Conservative Association

Third ranking on google for the phrase “Thanet Conservative”

This is a broken page that leads to a plumbing site.

Next Thanet North MPs site

Twenty first ranking on google for the phrase “Thanet Conservative”

No feeds and nowhere interactive.

The site seems to have last been updated on the 8th December 2009, the fact that the press release that I received on the 21st December and published on doesn’t seem to have appeared on his site yet suggests not being too internet savvy.

Next Thanet South Conservative candidate

No feeds, I couldn’t find her email address either, contact form only.

The last press release published 25th November 2009 the last one I had was 4th December.

Having said all of this I should point out that it is only the two MPs sites that are likely to be funded by us via their expenses, I haven’t checked this out.

What I am getting at here is that the way the local politicians and political parties use the internet in the run up to the elections is very important.

Certainly the two local politicians who blog regularly do leave me feeling that I have something of their measure see and I am not talking here about agreeing of disagreeing with them but just about their willingness to communicate and tell us who they are and what they think.

There is also another factor here and that is some sort of measure of competence and efficiency, since most of what our MPs do is essentially what used to be called paper pushing and is now keyboard tapping, this is some indicator of how good they are at it.


  1. Since my mate Barny started has website (see my blog I wont pimp it here) I am amazed how few people actually have a web presence and business website go from the very good to ridiculously rubbish. So our MP'S and political parties just mirror the county as a whole.

  2. I look at it like this Don, with the way competition is if you put your name or the name of your business in to google and don’t come up on the first page you are doing something seriously wrong or you are called John Smith and sell beer.

    Though seriously I think the problem is that many businesses seem to think you can have a web presence by getting a firm that writes websites to write one for you and then forgetting about it for months or even years.

  3. I agree some of the sites I have browsed have the neglected feel to them, saying that where I have been ill lately the church website could do with an update.

  4. I once took the time to write to Roger Gale about his web presence and strongly urged him to remain relevant by engaging with "web 2.0" technologies such as facebook, twitter or even blogging. His reply went along the lines of "recognising" my enthusiasm for the subject but stating that email had always been sufficient for him.

    It had always been my impression that the emailing was done by his wife.

  5. Matt I would have thought a blog embedded in his site would be a good start people hate filling in forms and Thanet is so blogger orientated.


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