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UK political parties failing miserably online

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
18 February 2008

Back in October, we posted a note on how the Tories were winning the battle for the (web 2.0) popularity contest. Well, according to a paper posted by the Centre for Policy Studies today, the only political party who are actually utilising anywhere near the full power of the social web is the controversial BNP. The study, written by Robert Colvile highlights the alarming fact that the BNP website has the same market share as all of the other major political parties COMBINED!

Mr Colvile very rightly stated: "British parties should reverse this by altering their mindset from "send" to "receive", and by learning the lessons of unofficial organisations such as bloggers, activists and campaign groups which have exploited the potential of the internet." In other words, the UK political parties need to start harnessing the power of Social Media to get their messages out to the wider audience.

So how bad is it? As a litmus test, let’s look at how many of the political parties have taken up the new (completely free and very easy) Facebook pages system.

Logotories The Conservative Party

They have an official party-wide presence with an impressive 57 fans (though very little actual content except the logo), and a few smaller groups also have pages – The Reading Conservatives have a whopping 27 fans, and the Epsom and Ewell Conservatives only the 1 so far…

Labour_120x120 The Labour Party

Labour are just one fan behind the Tories with 56, though it doesn’t look very official with a very ropey-looking logo. None of the local groups have pages though. You’d have thought these guys would have been a bit more agressive in the run up to an election year.

Logolibdem The Liberal Democrats

The LibDems don’t appear to have any pages at all, not even a little local one. Shame on you guys! I guess all the comings and goings within the party must make it hard to keep up…?

The BNP in comparison have got no official page but several quite popular groups – ‘Vote BNP’ has 1,565 members, ‘BNP’ 850 and ‘Vote BNP and Save the World’ has 43.

Having a look around the BNP website this morning (begrudgingly), they seem to be pretty switched-on to the online landscape – as well as little things like chicklets (i.e. social network bookmarklets), they have highlighted the results of the above report and quantified it with some Alexa numbers

Bnpalexa

Whether this is what the report is based on is unclear – if it is purely Alexa numbers then I’d take it with more of a pinch of salt, but to be fair to the report writers it does also seem to be reflected in the social media presences of the main parties as well, so there must be something in it.

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