Alastair Campbell last night said he believed the 2015 general election will be the first "genuine social media election", reports Shamik Das.
Alastair Campbell last night said he believed the 2015 general election will be the first “genuine social media election”.
Speaking on the BBC’s This Week, he said that, with 10 million people in the UK now on Twitter – compared to just 9 million reading a newspaper – and following the role social media played in the Arab Spring and is currently playing in the US Presidential election, after many false dawns, 2015 will be a social media election.
Talking about David Cameron’s embracing of Twitter, Campbell noted:
“The only thing is I’m not sure that he really gets it. I’ve looked at his account, he now follows 35 people on Twitter – 32 Tory MPs, one Tory MSP, one Tory Mayor (I think we can guess who that is), and the official Tory account. It’s not really what Twitter’s all about.
“What it is about is genuine engagement, not the political leaders talking to the plebs, but genuine interaction between politicians and public, and what it means for the politicians, is you’ve got to let go of control, and this is a control freak speaking here – you can’t control where the message lands, you can only control what you say, and what you do, as to where it goes, it can go anywhere.”
Campbell was pressed by Andrew Neil on some of the claims made about how social media would influence past elections (most notably the “TV election” of 2010); watch it:
Again pointing to the example of the current 2012 US Presidential election, he replied:
“What I’d say is that they’re all now coming together as part of the same thing. So you take the American Presidential debate, the first one – 10.3 million tweets during 90 minutes. And when people said at the end of those debates, ‘Obama lost, Romney won’, they did it based on, in large part, based on what people were saying on Twitter.”
Will 2015 live up to these expectations? A social media strategy can never replace a mass media, mass communication, door-to-door, air and ground war strategy – what matters is how it complements all the age old basics. In two-and-a-half years’ time, we’ll find out.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.