Monday, October 02, 2006


Nowhere is safe. Someone told the Tories about YouTube and now David Cameron is YouTubing it from his kitchen – he is doing the dishes and he wants to share it with you.

The frontpage of The Guardian on Saturday reveals how the Tories plan to use the internet to reach out and hit a new generation.

The paper says the Tories plan to target the blogging generation who are "disaffected and disconnected from mainstream politics". It wants to try to entice them in and, as part of that effort, the new community site they've launched is branded in pink and "consciously plays down the party message". It's very Web 2.0-looking.

At the centre of the Tories new internet driven strategy is the Webcameron. That's right, lame word play is pretty damn important in 21st century politics, as if you didn't know.

When I put this into Google it asked me if I meant to type Webkamera? That's right, see what they did there? Like a lot of German words it's almost English, but not quite, almost there, but a little off. The same could be said for the Tories attempt to storm the internet.

Talking of Google. The Tories have bizarrely signed up Eric Schmidt, the chairman and CEO of the search giant, to talk at this year’s party conference.

What's he going to tell them? Blog your way to victory? How to boost their search engine optimisation?

There is no clue in the FT article this morning. Asked why Schmidt had decided to speak at Bournemouth, a spokesperson for Google said: "He’s very keen on talking about the internet, and the impact it's having."

Schmidt keen on the internet? Get out of here.

I digress, as well as regular video blogs by Dave speaking direct to camera, there will also be podcasts and blogs with guest bloggers, kicking off today with perhaps the next US President Senator John McCain. Although neither of the blogs ("guest" or "open") are working right now, but like the new Tory party it's all in beta mode.

With Dave in the kitchen for his first Webcameron, he says he wants to tell us "what the Conservative party is doing, what we're up to, give you behind-the-scenes access so you can actually see what policies we're developing, the things that we are doing, and have that direct link ... watch out BBC, ITV, Channel 4, we're the new competition. We're a bit shaky and wobbly…"

He talks about behind the scenes access as the kids scream in the background. Caring father to the fore. He promises lots of stuff about party conference and speeches and then it’s over. Finishing with the line "right now I'm going to wash up the porridge". What a guy.

All this comes, sadly for Dave, as the Independent reported also on Saturday that the Tory lead has evaporated. That's a seven-point lead, gone. Tony Blair's great conference speech and a good conference all round has to have eaten into that.

The first outing conforms to the classic YouTube content formula in that it has absolutely no substance and, in that way, is no different from the tens of thousand of other video clips online. Like the one I watched yesterday called "Free gas (two girls dance around there 4x4 at a gas station…after getting free gas)".

It's hugely corny as well, continuing the whole Dave -- man of the people -- thing, like him cycling to work…followed by a couple of cars. Because that's how you save the environment.

But that aside, the Tory spokesman is right though when he says it shows that they "understand the web" and it is way ahead of what Labour is doing online. Remember those risible World Cup blogs with Alastair Campbell and company? Labour needs to get chasing.

Labour does have some videoclips, but it is all strictly old school. Where is Tony's conference speech? Nowhere to be seen. That should have been on available on the site to video share and open to people to comment on. But nothing like that. It needs, as the Lib Dems and others have done, open forums to help campaigning, exchange ideas and fun.

During the last US election, the blogs showed how powerful online could be. While it had little impact on the last British election, this will clearly change next time around with social media from blogs, community and video sharing all playing a much bigger role.

Out on the campaign trail, great videoclips of an off the cuff remark, or in John Prescott's case a general cuffing, could have a real impact once released online.

Gordon better get moving. The Tories are promising Webcameron twice a week. Next week he'll be in the garden digging up his turnips.


At 3:42 PM, Anonymous websham-eron said...

i really wish cameron hadn't done this. its PR gone crazy. he still isn't providing any insight into how he would govern or what policies they might put before the public.

All we get is gas bagging with a few shots of him being fatherly.

Surely the only people who watch the damned thing will be those interesed in Sham-eron already. it won't reach the disaffected youth cos we'd rather be taking drugs and wearing hoodies.

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In your article you said, "During the last US election, the blogs showed how powerful online could be."

Not powerful enough, Gordon. That monkey is still standing office, and I have a hunch it wasn't the religious "Right" who were blogging and webcamming away.

If Labour and the Lib Dems can figure a digital way to harness any power away from the Tories, this member of the disaffected youth will actually try to learn how to do more than shop on ebay.

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous the online pixie said...

Jesus Renee for a first comment that was pretty damn sensible. Try a silly anagram next time.


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