Election Fever is hitting Kingswood as students prepare for a mock election on May 6th. There are currently 9 candidates standing and all main parties are represented apart from Labour! (There are, however, 3 types of communist party candidate vying for student votes). As part of this process I’ve been discovering the ways the new digital media are reporting the election debates and opinion polls. There are some great tools online to help students understand the political process and engage with how democracy works in our country. Users of Twitter, the micro-blogging site, have created the tag #leadersdebate to make and share live comments on the TV debates as they have happened and the tag #ukge10 for more general comments. A “sentiment” tracker at “Tweetminster” attempts to predict real-time support for the various parties by analysing the content of tweets as they occur throughout the day. A good way to follow realtime comments on the election is through Mashpedia which allows you to search for the likes of blogs, photos and youtube videos all “mashed up” in one place online.
Electioneering through Youtube
Political parties have embraced Facebook and Youtube making sure they have a lively and active campaign online. The Conservative leaders’ “webcameron” has become well-known over the last year. Likewise the Liberal Democrats Libdems have their own dedicated Youtube channel. The Labour Party been especially innovative and presented their manifesto in a very accessible way through this Youtube video:
Campaigning on Facebook
On Facebook most political parties have set up pages giving users the opportunity to add their support through clicking the “like” button. Of the 3 main parties the Libdems have 59,014 supporters who “like” them, the Conservatives 58,997 whilst Labour trail with 28,349. Using Social Networking to promote yourself can sometimes be a dangerous strategy (as companies like “Kraft” who were involved in a takeover of Cadbury’s discovered ) as it is very easy for an “anti” page to be started by any Facebook user. e.g The BNP page has 10,742 supporters whilst the “I hate the BNP” page has 15,131! The poor “Greens” found their title of “Green Party” already taken by a USA organisation and have resorted to calling themselves by the rather unwieldly name of “The Green Party of England and Wales”
Whizzy-Bangy Interactive Stuff!
Most of the traditional media have great interactive features on their online sites. The BBC, as you would expect, has a very informative website and their interactive Poll tracker is superb:
The Dailly Telegraph has a dynamic interactive map with each constituency represented by a red/blue or yellow hexagon. A swingometer allows you to predict which constituencies would change with a voting swing to one or other of the parties.
The Guardian Online has a live blogger – Andrew Sparrow - whose page can be automatically updated every minute. Looking back over a days worth of comments certainly gives an exciting overview of the ups and downs of the campaign trail which helps create a sense of participation in events for those of us at work or school!
More links on my collaborative bookmarks on diigo at http://www.diigo.com/list/nicolamcnee/ukge10