Iain Dale on Conservative Blogging in the UK

Iain hits the nail on the head when he highlights the problem the Conservative party has with the internet in general and bloggers in particular:

George Osborne may have mentioned the internet in a couple of speeches, but the Conservative Party as a whole has performed lamentably.

It has paid lip-service to the idea of online campaigning and messaging, but has failed to do anything meaningful. Its website is based on technology from nearly a decade ago – a lifetime in internet terms.

There’s little opportunity for interaction and, as a consequence, Conservatives.com gets fewer hits than many of the top blogs. The only consolation is that the Labour Party and Lib Dem websites are worse.

There are two or three hundred bloggers who define themselves as Conservative or Right-of-centre. Together, they have a daily readership higher than that of the Independent newspaper.

Unlike newspaper readership, blog readership is increasing by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent each year, yet British political parties generally view them as threats rather than opportunities. Why? Because they are impossible to control.

The solution?

Bloggers could form the so-called Army of Davids who, come an election, can spread a message. They can motivate activists and raise money. At the moment, they can be forgiven for thinking they are seen at best as an irrelevance and at worse a hindrance.

If David Cameron really wants to reduce maximum donations to £50,000, he needs to tell his strategists to get online quickly – he’s going to have to plug the funding gap from somewhere if the party is to continue to employ upwards of 100 people at Central Office.

British Tories have fallen behind virtually every other western Right-of-centre party in its internet operations. They "let go" their online campaigns manager and didn’t replace him.

The job has been combined with managing social action projects. WebCameron flickers into life from time to time, but the long-awaited website relaunch seems to have been postponed forever.

You can’t play at internet politics. If you take it seriously, you need to get professionals to do the job. Once the US election is out of the way, the Tories need to recruit the Republican Party’s best internet brains and use them to drag their web operations into the 21st century.

Read it all here

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