Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Spotlight
  2. Elections
12 April 2010

Will this really be the “social media election“?

Not necessarily

By James Macintyre

Whisper it softly — as it may not go down well on Twitter or Facebook: This may not be the social media election.

Labour has just launched its 2010 general election manifesto with a pretty major nod to social networking, a leading blogger making the first speech and a cartoon designed to be spread rounf Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, as reported in the live launch blog earlier. Strategists are excited by the new emphasis on these communications methods. Doubtless, the Tories and other parties will attempt to follow suit.

But according to some observers, there is too much emphasis on these methods. Professor Philip Cowley of Nottingham University, for example, has just posted this warning against paying too much attention to them. In it, he says:

[There] is an inverse relationship between the importance of any election campaign technique and the amount of media coverage devoted to it.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Of course, these sites are popular new methods of spreading messages, views — and links. And many people in politics use them. But the reality, surely, is that it is the message itself — and not the method of spreading that message — which will determine how people vote. And in the end, it is still worth betting that the set-piece television news bulletins — and the deabtes — will be most influential in this election.

PS: You can follow my “tweets” at but I won’t be tweeting a link to this heretical post.