Sunday, December 20, 2009

Citizentube in London: Looking ahead at the 2010 UK Elections

With the UK's elections coming up (most likely) in the spring of next year (Gordon Brown must call them by June 3rd), there's been a lot of talk in the UK over how the Internet will play a role in the campaign. The last general election was in May of 2005 - the same month that YouTube was invented - so this will be the first UK election in which video will play a role in the public debate. A few weeks ago, I was in the UK en route to Copenhagen for our COP-15 CNN/YouTube Debate, and met with several MP's and staffers from the British Parliament to discuss video and their strategy.

Most people don't think that the UK elections will play out on the Internet the same way as our U.S. election did in 2008, for a lot of reasons: the election season is much shorter (only 4-6 weeks); British politics is less "personality driven" than U.S. politics; there's less room for innovation in British politics due to an entrenched party system of campaigning. However, regulations against buying political commercials on television (each party instead gets one official 5-minute "party political broadcast" on television, which most people say is a signal for the viewer to flip the channel) will ensure that web video will be a place where the parties can broadcast consistent messages. And all the major parties have been using YouTube for a few years now - Conservative leader (and heavily favored) David Cameron's "Web Cameron" has garnered international notice (we even did a Citizentube interview with him waaay back in 2007), and of course Gordon Brown has been using YouTube at 10 Downing St. ever since he took over from Tony Blair in June of 2007 (Just before leaving office, Blair announced he was the first world leader with an official YouTube channel on June 21st, 2007).

After our event with the M.P.'s and staffers, I did a short interview with the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones, who posted the audio and a re-cap of our meeting on his blog, You can check it out at this link, and stay tuned here for more on how web video will influence the election in the U.K. in the coming months.


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