Having a new UK government has presented some challenges for No. 10 from a social media perspective. Principally, how to maintain the continuity that is attached to the office of Prime Minister, but sweep away as much of the old content as possible.
The solution the Tories have gone for is to keep their content hub fixed – but change all the old content outposts (sort-of). Thus www.number10.gov.uk remains the digital hub for the government, but the identities of the Twitter, Flickr and YouTube outposts have been changed – from having a DowningStreet identity to Number10Gov identity. The content in the old accounts will be retained ‘for the archive’ and those signed-up will be moved across – but effectively the content thread has been broken.
Quite a neat solution – but was it really necessary? Relevance in social media is not about places (i.e. where the content comes from) but about spaces (what the content is and where it goes). After all, David Cameron is still going to live in No. 10, he is not going to put the old cabinet room table on eBay and get a new one from Ikea, (unless the IMF say so). So why change Twitter, YouTube and Flickr? These were the content outposts of the office of Prime Minister. Also – what happens when we get a new government? Will they feel they come up with yet another identity – and how many permutations of Gov, Number10 and DowningStreet are there available?
The Liberal Democrats have just written themselves out of the story of British politics. Here is why.
- They have exchanged principles for power. This is never a good thing – even if you assert that you will use your power in pursuit of your principles – because this is a race you will never win (as New Labour demonstrated).
- They have surrendered the territory. Lib Dems cannot now exert authority over the ‘progressive centre left’ of British politics. This territory is now available exclusively to Labour (if they get their act together). Remember, this is where most of the votes were actually cast in last week’s election
- They won’t get the political reform they need to break the two party system. The Labour party can now provide what has been missing from politics for a long time: an effective opposition and therefore real choice to voters. This will significantly lessen the appetite for electoral reform making it unlikely that the Lib Dems will win a referendum on this issue, if and when the Tories give it to them.
Thus when the wheels drop of the coalition – inevitable given that this is an alliance driven only by circumstance and short-term expediency – the Lib Dems will have sold their soul, have no place left to go (both in a political and geographical sense) and won’t have got the one thing they really want. They have shot themselves in the foot, the heart and the head – and very few people recover from that.
All the Labour party has to do is avoid electing themselves an arrogant, smug bully as a leader (I don’t even have to mention the name).
And one other prediction. Nick Clegg will stay on the Tory bandwagon, even after the wheels have dropped-off the coalition. And before that happens, many Lib Dem MPs will defect to Labour (provided they don’t elect …). The first defection will mark the beginning of the end of the coalition.
Lets see if this is how the story pans out.
Here are some thoughts on the UK election. I know it is not really about social media, but it is about the The Story of British politics, as I see it anyway.
- We are still waiting for the change we voted for in 1997.
- People want a change of direction much more than they want a change of Government.
- The change people want isn’t a political one in the sense of left or right, Labour versus Conservative – although the individual parties are trying to dramatise it as such.
- What people want is for Government to re-discover the art of governing – rather than simply contracting-out its responsibility to manage the essential pieces of social and economic infrastructure that hold a nation together.
- The problem isn’t that we are burdened by the State, it is that the State isn’t doing its job properly. Society isn’t broken, Government is.
- Competition, enterprise and markets create winners and losers. This is fine when it is Sainsbury versus Tesco – but we don’t want an education or healthcare system of winners and losers.
- Forcing a market system into an area where a market does not naturally exist (like the public provision of healthcare or education) creates bureaucracy and in-efficiencies as we generate the artificial beans for newly appointed bean-counters to count, rank and organise into league tables (like we see in the National Health Service and in schools).
- Running a successful private school is not the same as running a successful public education system. The ability to do one does not translate into an ability to do the other. Private companies can, and should, focus on running individual institutions where there is a genuine market for them. Government needs to focus on managing the system.
Unfortunately no major party seems to have bought into this story – but I have a suspicion that the majority of voters – of all political persuasions – are waiting for someone to tell this story. And that’s the problem – especially for the Conservative party – and it is the reason why the Conservatives are not way-ahead in the polls.
I’m voting Green Party!