Social media, phone banks and political campaigns

downloadAs the dust begins to settle on the battle bus accusations, from the 2015 General Election with all but Craig Mackinlay and his team freed from suspicion, the prospect of similar cases of fraud emerging from Junes General Election must still be very high. It could be the Tories (again) it could be Labour or indeed one of the smaller parties. The truth is that all national parties are placed in a position which means they could easily misuse national funds to win in their target seats. Whether their tactic and weapon is coaches filled full of expense laden ‘volunteers’, accommodated in nearby Hotels or whether it is something harder to measure, the reality is that beyond each local constituency the vast sums that each national part is allowed to spend ‘nationally’ places them in a place of temptation. My view is that national expenditure of political parties should be limited to a small number of options, such as their TV advertising. I would also argue that the sums allowed to be spent particularly nationally need to be a great deal lower than they currently are. In part this is because outspending of smaller parties is easy when you have large donors and in reality many of the large donors are bound to want some form of return for their ‘investment’ even if the return is subtle and hard to measure most of the time. It is inconceivable that Labour or the Tories or Lib Dems who all rely on battle bus type provision and in the case of the two big players aircraft too, will get themselves into such a muddle in the future as the Tories did in 2015. However there are several other ways of utilising large sums of money to target a relatively small number of constituencies. The two most obvious mechanisms are telephone banks and the use of social media. In both cases the investment is made centrally but the calls made and tweets and facebook messages sent are much harder to track than a few large coaches and Hotel bills. Let us hope that the general sense of dissatisfaction directed at the parties continues to grow until they feel obliged to behave in a more responsible manner. The truth is that it is very difficult to measure how much of the social media and phone calls are directed unless those of us who are telephoned and targeted begin to get smart at our ways of holding these parties to account.

About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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