This month’s UK edition of Wired has a rather breathless article about the way that David webCameron’s Tories are using technology in their bid to get to No. 10. It starts with their discovery of paid search as way to target messaging, and takes in their attempts to utilise everything from Facebook to building their own social network. At several points it seems to suggest that they are en course to replicating Obama’s achievement of clicking their way to power. Which is all well & good if it weren’t for one thing – the only thing the Tories seem to have learned is how to harness the web for marketing, not about what is really necessary to ‘do an Obama’: fundamentally change and offer something new.
Because, as the recent news about the Tories’ desperate attempts to prevent one of their main fund-raisers having to pay tax shows, the Tories may be full of talk about open data and people powered government, but they still rely on an old boy’s social network of influence and inherited power; the person making the best use of YouTube is Daniel Hannan, a delightful character who is of the rather retrograde opinion that we shouldn’t even be in Europe and toured the US to support the view that the NHS is all about death squads (as well as voting to cover up expenses); progressive policies such as minimum wage, equal rights for gays and the like were all opposed by webCameron and his merry band of digital toffs.
David Cameron’s opinion of Twitter? “Too many tweets make a twatt“. Brilliant, Tory 2.0 wants us to elect a chinless version of Bernard Manning.
Compare this with Obama, or even, dare I say it, Tony Blair. Obama used the web to connect individuals & communities, and raised the majority of his money from ordinary citizens. Cameron uses it to push his barely thought out policies and takes his money from tax-dodgers. Obama then used this money to run a huge TV campaign, something the Tories won’t be able to do. And these ads pushed Obama’s message of real change: health-care reform, pull out of Iraq, etc… If Cameron could run such ads, they’d mumble something about the defecit (despite the fact that Tory plans almost certainly would have seen the recession become a depression) and tax-breaks for millionaires. Cameron is more of a George W. Bush than an Obama.
And what about Blair, the obvious model for everything webCameron’s done over the last couple of years? Well, whilst his record has been irrevocably shattered by a disastrous war and a devastating charge after big business (cheered on, let’s not forget, by the Tories but not the Lib Dems), his early days saw the kind of real changes Dave’s mob would never make, and didn’t want made at the time – minimum wage, equality acts and the like. Cameron’s level of shallowness makes Blair look positively deep by comparison,
I should probably add at this point that whilst I’ve voted Labour in every general election I’ve been eligible to vote in, this time I don’t think I’ll be able to: the Lib Dems seem to have been right about every major issue over the last 10 years and the thought of Vince Cable as Treasurer is one of the few positive things that might come out of the next election. But whilst I’ve little love left for Brown’s New Labour, what I can’t stand is the thought that working out how to use AdWords will be enough to convince those interested in technology & progression that David Cameron’s Tories are anything other than the children of Thatcher, but with a Facebook page.
Nope by Tom Edwards on flickr