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Turning off the lights

28 Jan

Apparently Egypt has turned off all internet connectivity within its borders. This has some pretty far-reaching connotations for everyone.

As you can see from this Mashable post, much like in Iran during the Green Revolution (although, to be fair, the information within Iran was so diluted by external messages there are questions surrounding social media’s ultimate effectiveness in that case), the protesters are organising  via digital means. Hence why the Government has apparently shut it down.

But what happens now that internet access has gone down? What happens to the protest organisation?

And could it happen in Western Democracies if there was civil unrest. Right now, UK Union leaders are meeting to discuss the possibility of General strikes in the UK to protest the Tory-led cuts. After seeing how students organised themselves during the protests last year, would the circumstance ever arise that the Government would shut down digital communications? Probably not, simply because the economy relies on the net so much these days, especially the city. But it means the possibility is still there.

I’d have to ask a technician, but would it be possible to shut down certain areas, in-particular wireless or 3g capabilities?

But consider this, Iran was never able to disconnect the net, nor has China completely stopped information seeping through. Like the 4 minute mile, once someone has done it, will everyone learn how?


Campaign ads – the best and the worst. Part one – advocacy ads

11 Feb

In response to the Robin Hood Tax ad, which is one of the best campaigning ads I have seen for a while, I thought I would post some historically very effective political and advocacy ads. I’m also currently reading The Political Brain, by Drew Westen that looks at the role of emotions in political campaigning. It has been an eye-opening read, so this also gave me some inspiration for this post.

This list is by no means definitive and if anyone wants to send links to some campaigning ads, that would be great, I’d love to watch them.

This post will focus on a few advocacy ads, starting with the Robin Hood Tax ad that has been the focus of the media of late. It is a very simple ad, two voices, one face but plenty of emotion. Bill Nighy plays a leading banker who ends up squirming in response to the questioning about why a Tobin Tax shouldn’t be created. Squirming bankers is something that reverberates with a good portion of the public at the moment. This campaign plays to the slightly divergent emotions of good will and revenge brilliantly.

This next ad scares the heck out of me, although I’m not sure how effective it is. Shock ads, as I have written before, have the tendency to decline in effectiveness over time simply because of people being desensitized. I’m not sure anyone would be able to put themselves in this guys shoes, unless they have been in the same situation.

This shock ad from PlaneStupid, the organisation that focuses on climate change issues caused by the global aviation industry, is different from the previous one however. Shocking – yes. Disturbing – definitely. Effective – most certainly. Polar bears dropping from the sky crushing cars and smashing into buildings may seem like an odd choice, but it is actually very clever. The stance is that every person on a trans-Atlantic flight creates 400kg of carbon. Most people can’t conceptualize what that means however. A polar bear, which is also an icon of climate change devastation, is imaginable. Therefore this appeals to our sense of wanting to save these animals, horror at their gruesome deaths but it also puts our carbon footprint into a physical and understandable context. It was filmed in Canada, but it could be any city, again personalising the imagery.

The final ad is one that has screened on UK screens recently and was the subject of a number of complaints, but is far more subtle that the polar bear ad. Act on CO2 is a non-departmental government body that is the public face of the Government’s climate change policy. This ad simply shows a father telling a bed-time story to his child, but it is a story of the effects of climate change and includes drowning pets and other disturbing results of unabated climate change. But this ad is clever in the fact that it appeals on a personal level to adults and children. This ad scares children, hence the complaints, but it also contextualizes climate change for them ensuring they understand the potential of doing nothing. It also will frighten adults on a parental level – how can I let my child live in a world like this, what can I do to prevent it?

As I said, this isn’t a complete list, but it just a tester. I’d love your thoughts and if you want to send me other campaigns, feel free. I’ll post the political ad blog in the next couple of days.

Cross posted with Ruder finn Dot Comms.

Digital Economy Bill

23 Nov

I just posted on Left Foot Forward, on the significant issues within the Digital Economy Bill so please feel free to have a look.

Lib-Dems overhaul website and digital strategy to increase online audience

11 Nov

Interesting to see what the Liberal-Democrats are doing at the moment to increase their online presence.

Firstly they have overhauled their website which is about time because their old one was awful. I’m not sure about the blue however, but maybe Cameron was right and the Lib-Dems are more aligned to the Tory way of thinking – God I hope not.

Then, according to PR Week,

The Lib Dems will launch a new digital campaigning platform called Act in two weeks, following on from the relaunch of the website last week.

A third website, specifically focused on members and activists, will roll out in approximately one month. ‘It will give them the tools and materials they need for campaigning,’ said Lib Dem CEO Chris Fox.

The moves follow last month’s high-profile launch of the Tories’ e-campaigning platform.

The bulk of the digital work was handled in-house by the party’s digital team, which includes Catherine Turner, David Angell and Sam Lockwood.

Fox added that the party’s technology panel, chaired by MP Lynn Featherstone, oversaw the activity, while digital agency Being worked on the website relaunch.

‘We’ve split the functions into three,’ said Fox. ‘Users want to know what we’re about, then how to do things.’

The Lib-Dems have always been reasonably forward thinking in terms of online politicking and engagement. In late October, the Hansard Society launched a study to say the Lib-Dems had the highest proportion of MPs on Twitter than any party. Labour has numerically much more however.

But, simply having an online presence isn’t the be all and end all of online engagement, it is a matter of what you do with it that matters.

I still think Labour is ahead, but that is just me. I’ve said it before, Labour has the sensational Labour List as well as a number of other sites, which includes bloggers such as activists as well as standing and past MPs. Also there is Bloggers4Labour which is an ok read. Labour Home also exists but I admit I haven’t really gotten to know this site yet, but it seems to be a grass-roots local issues blog/newsite.

The Tories have a presence in the form of personal blogs like Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes, with Conservative Home acting more like a RSS feed than a blog sometimes. Fewer Tory MPs are involved online according to my estimation.

I haven’t done a huge amount of research on it yet, but if anyone out there has the figures for blogging MPs, I’d love to see them. Would be an interesting stat.

Why politicos shouldn’t fight online

10 Nov

I love the way new media and digital communications have become intertwined with political discussion. It will hopefully lead to a bright future of government, political debate, public interaction and general engagement. But It is important to remember, just because it is a public conversational tool, doesn’t mean you need to have a public conversation. People who use social media for reasons other than just saying hi to your friends, should be clever about it and aware of potential ramifications, especially people who are in positions of respect and power.

This was what David Cameron meant when earlier in the year he said that twitter could cause problems for MPs because tweets can be taken out of context or the MPs could get involved in conversations that normally they shouldn’t. These conversations are also permanent and can be dug up at any time.

It is with these comments in mind, over the past few days, I have been watching an argument between Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour Twitter Tsar and Shane Greer, the executive editor of Total Politics.  Both of these people are in positions of power and respect. A senior and respected Member of Parliament on one side and a journalist who has a vast number of followers and loyal readers and edits a magazine with no-particular party politic on the other. People follow what both of these individuals say with interest and they, as a people’s representative and as a member of the fourth estate respectively,  are in a position where it is important where they act and carry themselves properly.

But as you can see from this twitter conversation, things have become a bit out of hand. Remember this all started over what music people should like as a display of their political ideals.

I won’t go into detail about what each said, but to be sure, it has clearly been a case of misrepresentation by both parties. Kerry McCarthy is at fault because she took the bait. But what is concerning is she has taken the bait before as you can see from these conversations with Nadine Dorries MP. In this case, as the Labour Twitter Tsar, Kerry should know better.

Shane Greer is at fault because from what I read, he is being antagonistic from the start. Reacting to a reasonably irreverent comment from Kerry, Shane has gone overboard. The tweet that made Shane bite was “@wallaceme @shanegreer To use that well-worn political phrase, I’m not taking any lessons about Northern Ireland from you two. Or music.”

As you can see, Shane went into a diatribe about being from Northern Ireland and his time there which sounds awful. But if Kerry hasn’t met him or heard his accent and she is right, there is no reason for her to research Shane’s birthplace or personal history. She is also right to suggest it is fairly egotistical to suggest she should know his heritage and she is right to not apologise. He then proceeded to blog about it with gusto.

A spat between these two is fine, it happens. But when these two started off at each other, each others followers and supporters joined in and attack each other. Together they produced this;

As I said, both of these people are in positions of power and respect. Arguments like this turn people off politics, getting involved at the local level and engaging. As you can see, it is a pack mentality, but that is politics, but sometimes, someone needs to be the adult.

This whole argument won’t have any severe ramifications. It won’t lead to resignations and won’t even make the news. But it turns people off. As I said, it is important that people use social media conversational tools wisely.

What are your thoughts?

Total Politics publishes to 100 Left of Centre blogs

1 Sep

Total Politics have published the top 100 left of center blogs as voted by their readership. It is interesting that this year they are left of centre blogs rather than Labour blogs. This is potentially after one or two people kicked off about being called Labour. Nosemonkey, for example, wasn’t happy.

1   (1)   Tom Harris MP

2   (2)   Hopi Sen

3   (-)   LabourList

4   (-)   Alastair Campbell

5  (13)   SNP Tactical Voting

6   (6)   Luke Akehurst

7  (12)   Harry’s Place

8   (-)   Next Left

9   (3)   Stumbling & Mumbling

10  (27)  The Daily (Maybe)

11 (59)   Guerilla Welsh Fare

12 (17)   A Very Public Sociologist

13 (10)   Dave’s Part

14 (15)   Third Estate

15 (43)   Two Doctors

16 (73)   Blog Menai

17  (11)  Sadie’s Tavern

18   (-)   Blackburn Labour

19 (74)  Kerry McCarthy MP

20  (-)   Malc in the Burgh

21  (-)   Bickerstaffe Record

22 (14)  Socialist Unity

23 (45)  The F Word

24  (8)   Tom Watson MP

25  (7)   LabourHome

26  (-)   Yapping Yousuf

27 (54)  Penny Red

28  (-)   Go Fourth!

29  (-)   Duncan’s Economic Blog

30 (39)  Adam Price MP

31 (60)  Welsh Ramblings

32 (93)  Don Paskini

33  (-)  Syniadau

34  (-)  Subrosa

35  (-)  Politicana

36  (-)  Peter Cranie MEP

37 (72)  Harpymarx

38  (-)   Though Cowards Flinch

39 (47)  Cynical Dragon

40 (23)  Kezia Dugdale’s Sopabox

41  (-)   Plaid Wrecsam

42 (29)  Lenin’s Tomb

43  (-)   Lallands Peat Worrior

44 (53)  Tory Troll

45 (28)  Stuart King

46 (71)  Another Green World

47  (-)   Bob from Brockley

48  (-)   Pendroni

49 (25) Bob Piper

50 (36) Conor’s Commentary

51  (-)  Grumpy Spindoctor

52  (-)  Splintered Sunrise

53 (84) Stroppy Blog

54  (-)  Polemical Report

55  (-)  Barkingside 21

56 (44) Rupa Huq

57 (20) Normblog

58  (-)  John Rentoul

59  (-)  Philobiblon

60 (18) Obsolete

61 (35) Bethan Jenkins AM

62  (-)  Politics Cymru

63 (15) Paul Linford

64  (-)  E8 Voice

65  (-)  Left Outside

66  (-)  Borthlas

67  (-)  Leanne Wood AM

68  (-)  Sweet & Tender Hooligan

69 (80) Madam Miaow Says

70  (-)  Dave Hill’s London Blog

71 (85) Shiraz Socialist

72  (-)  Green Ladywell

74 (38) Neil Clark

74 (41) Jane Is the One

75 (22) Theo Blackwell

76  (-)  Rupert Read

77  (-)  Gwilym Euros Roberts

78 (94) Oliver Kamm

79  (-)  Touchstone Blog

80 (96) Macuaid

81 (90) Paul Flynn MP

82 (32) Chris Paul’s Labour of Love

83  (-)  Gaian Economics

84  (9)  Ministry of Truth

85  (-)   Cllr Tim’s Blog

86 (19)  Ordovicius

87  (-)   Snowflake5

88  (-)  Ruscombe Green

89  (-)   Recess Monkey

90 (63)   Labour and Capital

91  (-)   This is My Truth

92  (-)   Huw Lewis AM

93  (58)  Grimmer up North

94 (75) The Exile

95  (-)  Martin Bright

96  (-)  Julian’s Musings

97  (-)  Lord Toby Harris

98  (-)  Rebellion Sucks

99 (100) Jon Worth Euroblog

100 (-) Louise Baldock

Total Politics lists top 75 Lib-Dem Blogs

1 Sep

Below is the top 75 Lib-Dem blogs according to Total Politics. It’s a good list although it is a shame Lord Avebury’s blog has taken a slide from 31 to 68. Lord Avebury is a exceptional gem in the House of Lords and his insights are particularly interesting.


1 Charlotte Gore
2 1 LibDem Voice
3 Himmelgarten Cafe
4 3 Norfolk Blogger
5 Mark Reckons
6 Liberal Vision
7 44 Caron’s Musings
8 5 Liberal England
9 2 People’s Republic of Mortimer
10 4 Quaequam Blog
11 15 Stephen’s Linlithgow Journal
12 18 Jennie Rigg
13 11 Cicero’s Songs
14 7 Millennium Dome Elephant
15 6 Lynne Featherstone MP
16 Dude the Dog
17 8 Peter Black AM
18 9 Love & Liberty
19 Andrew Reeves
20 39 Irfan Ahmed
21 24 474 Votes to Win
22 Always Win When You’re Singing
23 Freedom Central
24 14 Jock Coats
25 42 Sound of Gunfire
26 Willie Rennie MP
27 Freedom & Whisky
28 LibDem Blogs
29 Hagley Road to Ladywood
30 Paula Keaveney
31 28 Fraser Macpherson
32 26 Jonathan Fryer
33 Chris Davies MEP
34 Agent Orange
35 Liberal Bureaucracy
36 Mark Pack
37 Pink Dog
38 Liberal Revolution
39 Birkdale Focus
40 John Hemming MP
41 32 Anything Caron Can Do
42 45 Disgruntled Radical
43 Wit & Wisdom
44 Duncan Borrowman
45 Nick Clegg MP
46 Nigel Ashton
47 Social Liberal Forum
48 Steve Webb MP
49 The Speaker
50 Belsize LibDems
51 21 Hug a Hoodie
52 23 Orange by Name
53 37 Anders Hanson
54 John Barrett MP
55 Katy Gordon
56 Max Atkinson
57 Liberal Youth Scotland
58 Moments of Clarity
59 Adrian Sanders MP
60 29 A Lanson Boy
61 38 Eric Avebury
62 47 Gavin’s Gaily Gigest
64 Liberal Dose
65 Mary Reid
63 43 Antony Hook
67 22 Jo Christie-Smith
68 16 Lindylooz Muse
69 Swindon South Liberal Democrats
70 Niles’s Blog
71 13 Neil Stockley
72 LibCync
73 What You Can Get Away With
74 Wouldn’t it be Scarier
75 Richard Allan