Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Liberal Democrats and the new media

Interesting times to be a Liberal Democrat.

One feature of the campaign that is only slowly being picked up is that the contest is shifting from the old battlefield of newspaper columns to the new battlefield of the new media: not just blogs, but Facebook and the rest of it. This is undermining a key advantage for both Labour and the Conservatives: the influence of the press. At the last election only The Independent was prepared to endorse the Liberal Democrats, while all the others endorsed to other two parties. That position seems set to be repeated. The Conservatives will gain the support of the Murdoch media, and doubtless hang on to the motley crew of the Daily Express, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. Labour will keep the Daily Mirror and The Guardian. None of it may make any difference.

The fact is that the old system of newspapers endorsing political parties (and often gaining knighthoods and peerages for their editors) smacks of 19th century patronage. This election has been about the dis-intermediation of politics. Where television in the 1960s impacted the political process, now it is the new media. Here, the Liberal Democrats have been fighting a highly successful insurgent campaign on such sites as Facebook- and in cyberspace you don't need to spend money on expensive newspaper and poster advertising. The money gap that benefits the Tories and Labour alike is not an issue in the new media.

I might have though that the Conservatives could have fought more effectively, after all their bloggers, such as Iain Dale, have been the market leaders over several years. Yet bloggers seem to be largely middle aged- hmm hmm- men. Twitter and Facebook is younger and more diverse. It is therefore not just the debates that have driven the surge of Lib Dem support: it is also the campaign that is being fought in cyberspace.

I don't know that the Internet campaign will be decisive, but I do think that the 2010 campaign is being more evenly fought as well as more open, as the result of these innovations. The newspapers are seeing a further nail in their coffin being hammered in by this campaign.


Newmania said...

The reason right wing opinion flocked to the internet was that it was excluded from the state broadcasting corporation. This is the largest broadcasting organization in the word and interacts with everyone of us at least once a week.

As media models go it is antediluvian and solidly behind “Progressive” opinion. Many SDP ( Now Lib Dem)members have been prominent. Polly Toynbee stood for the SDP and she was the editor of social affairs for the State telly for seven years
The list of centre left Beeb movers and shakers is a long one but when you examine the prejudices of the BBC they are more Liberal than Labour .During the so called Common Market referendum for example when much of the opposition was from the old lef the Beeb was found to have conspired with those who wanted us in. This included many Conservatives at the time but Liberals and the BBC have remained hypnotized by this big government empire when others are disillusioned

Liberal opinion has received none of the endless abuse Conservatives have and while the Guardian is nominally Labour it is as much critical of Labour from a Liberal perspective. The media is broadly inhabited by Liberals as are the arts.

The phrase Liberal establishment is a commonplace and a reality the interaction between this establishment and the Liberal Party is rather more complex.The Party contains an extremist and eccentric mix of odd bal below its smooth surface

Cicero said...

Well the Tories too contain a fair number of screwballs! Actually I think you have a point about the BBC- and the fact that the beeb sent more people to cover the leaders debate than ITV did just made me annoyed. I think Aunty Beeb needs to go on a diet and should be much better run. The golden days of David Attenborough who commissioned Monty Python, Civilisation, The Ascent of Man and many other of the best TV programmes ever made has been replaced by a bloated management producing populist crud to compete with the populist crud of ITV. I don't like the tone of the Tory attacks on the BBC, but I do admit that you have a point.

Newmania said...

YouGov daily poll - Sun Apr 18 Apr 17

Could the Liberals get the whole anti Tory vote Labour slipping back ?Iraq up next ...bloody hell.

Cicero said...

Yes- Spectacular figures.