04. 05. 2010

Citizens challenge hung parliament 'horror' message

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For various reasons, I haven’t been able to watch any of the three TV debates. I saw the endless playback snippets on the news the day after each debate (which quickly got exceptionally tedious) but had no total emersion in any of the live sessions.

It proved impossible to avoid the debates-debate, with endless pre-debate speculation and post-debate analysis. Listening to all the parties and the broadcasters themselves, it’s clear that nobody anticipated the massive media focus on this innovation, for better or for worse (as Scotland’s Alex Salmond has been pointing out more and more petulantly). The TV debates have become the single most influential aspect of this general election campaign.

Yet it was only a few weeks ago that all the pre-election buzz was about the impact of the social media on the election, with a lot of questionably euphoric commentaries that every conceivable kind of web-enabled initiatives and networks would dominate the election debate.

Much of this was ramped up here in the UK after the huge success of Barack Obama’s election team in mobilising vast numbers of people (and donations!) in the 2008 presidential election.

We haven’t seen quite the same thing here in the UK. But there has been an extraordinary foment of activity going on out there, which is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen before – and could prove to be even more important in the event of a hung Parliament than during the election campaign itself.

One initiative that I’ve been a bit involved with is 38degrees, which has recruited an astonishing 127,000 active members in a remarkably short period of time. Between them, they’ve taken nearly 450,000 actions of one kind or another, covering a very wide range of progressive issues and causes.

Right now, its biggest campaign (coordinated jointly with www.Avaaz.org) is to put an end to the scaremongering in the right-wing, pro-Murdoch) press, about ‘the horrors of a hung parliament’. More on that tomorrow, but do please get involved with this campaign today – while there is still a chance! www.38degrees.org.uk

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