British Spin has an interesting post on the potential of the internet in British politics
, which includes his prediction that:
There will be an major insurgent political movement in the UK within the next 10 years, and that it will organise, fundraise, evangelise and motivate through the internet.
He doesn't give details of exactly what this movement will be (but then, who wants to give too many hostages to fortune?), but he bases a lot of his prediction on the development of the 'political internet' in the US - which I blogged about back in April
, just to plug my own status as a traiblazing blogger. Ahem...
Of course, one could argue that his prediction has already been fulfilled. For instance, the Stop The War Coalition
did a lot of its work online and a lot of MoveOn
's anti-war work was 'echoed' in the UK, but while these (and other examples) could be shown to prove the letter of his prediction, they wouldn't really hold up to the spirit of it. The 'model' to which the campaign that fulfills the prediction has to aspire would be on the lines of the Howard Dean
campaign in the US, which made the internet a fundamental part of its strategy from day one and is now reaping the benefits while others try to catch up. While we still have to wait till next year to see if the Dean campaign can win the Democrat nomination, in the few months I've been blogging Dean has moved from being among the also-rans to one one of the leading candidates in the race for the nomination, putting the early frontrunners (Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards, Lieberman) onto the back foot.
As well as the problems of finding a 'charismatic leader' for this movement and the fact that 'our internet development lags behind the US and the far east' there's also the question of what issue this movement will coalesce around. Of course, one can't predict what issues may come up in the next ten years, or even the next year - after all, anyone who predicted that over a million people would protest on the streets of London against war with Iraq two years ago would have been laughed at - but I would suggest that the likelihood is that this movement will be around an issue that the major parties are ignoring (or being seen as ignoring) for, despite all their campaigning faults in recent years, they are still very effective at piggy-backing onto campaigns and co-opting them.
However, there is also the possibility of it being an 'insurgency' from within a party (akin to the Dean campaign in some ways) with members of a party using it to change it from within. The effect of the internet the next time one of the major parties has a leadership election could be quite interesting to observe.