Our guest writer is George Norman, Founder and CEO of Whistle
I was arguing with a friend about Lib Dem policy – about Nick Clegg, in fact – and we realised that actually uncovering the facts about his position was a lot harder than it should be. The internet might be the ultimate democratic medium, but the political parties themselves weren’t playing to its strengths.
Against that backdrop, Obama was putting the Web at the heart of his election strategy and showing the world what a powerful tool it could be for fundraising, sharing his vision, and building a relationship with his volunteers. The ideas and the examples were there: I just needed the support to make it happen – even David Cameron was clamouring for it when he said:
“Promoting digital inclusion is essential for a dynamic modern economy and can help to make government more efficient and effective.”
Over $1 million has since been raised in capital to create Whistle, an online tool designed to bring politicians, activists, voters and candidates together to become better informed, debate real issues, run campaigns and shape their local communities. Whistle is a website: a combined directory, toolkit and communication medium designed for politicians, for activists, for candidates… and, most importantly, for the public.
Whistle is designed to cut through the arcane trappings of the political establishment and make politics truly popular. It helps people communicate with their MPs (through blogs, forums, and integration with networks like Twitter and Facebook), create their own campaigns (using our powerful proprietary tools), and support the causes that matter to them.
If an MP runs two surgeries a month, they might meet 500 of their constituents a year. A constituency has an average of 74,000 voters. That’s a lot of unheard voices. Whistle can help a local politician to connect with voters on a completely different level. It’s a site where a candidate can prepare the ground for a campaign by explaining their views and answering questions directly and on a large scale.
The expenses scandal has shown us how badly our political system needs transparency. More than that, though, we’re seeing how much people want to engage but not just with party politics. When I speak to people about the parties in the UK, the answer I hear most often is ‘They’re all the same’. It’s issues that matter to people, from getting a streetlight fixed to asking whether we need to spend billions on Trident. That’s what Whistle does: it lets you engage with the issue.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.