In an article in The Times today Alastair Campbell claims that the social web has altered the power balance in political campaigning. “The internet and, in particular, social networking have changed the terms of the relationship between the parties, the media and the public, taking at least some of the power to influence away from parties and media, to the benefit of the public”.
The former journalist and spin doctor supreme has himself embraced the social web and so may be well placed to judge. He is a regular blogger and his twitter account @campbellclaret (claret here is a reference to his beloved Burnley football team rather than Burgundy wine – Campbell is teetotal) has over 15 thousand followers. Political blogger Iain Dale names Campbell as the number 2 Labour twitterer after the Prime Minister’s wife.
Compared with the US presidential election of 2008 the level of engagement via the social web has been low in the run up to the 2010 UK general election but there are many politicians experimenting with on-line dialogue. There are now signs that all of the major parties are stepping up their on-line activity. It could be that the phony war is over and Alastair Campbell, so influential in previous elections, has just fired the starting gun on the social media election battle.