Recently, I had a good discussion about online campaigning with Graham at Mendip Media. It was an excellent cross-check for what we have been planning in Wycombe.
Anyone who underestimates the significance of the web in the campaign for 2010 is missing a trick. Since 2005, the Internet has evolved into something more than a series of brochures for companies and products. It is now a valuable mine of information for voters and would-be-voters. For example, through this site, you can find out about my political views and the literature which has informed them.
The Internet doesn’t replace meeting people face-to-face — thank goodness! — but it does allow candidates like me engage more fully than traditional doorstep canvassing and literature will allow. For one thing, it is ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’. If a certain issue is troubling you, you can look it up instantly, anywhere, without having to wait for my leaflet to drop through the letterbox. If you have a burning question, you can discuss it with me online.
Millions of younger voters now expect this – they’re regularly active on websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These are the platforms where peer groups are forming, discussing what matters to them and influencing each other’s decisions. And it’s not limited to the young – indeed, according to Graham, the fastest growing sector on Facebook is 55- to 65-year-old females.
I am looking forward to the full-blooded campaign, online and on the streets of Wycombe, and I am delighted to reveal that fellow Wycombe Conservative Tim Hewish, a Policy Exchange veteran, will be helping online.