UK parties and their online campaigns – A self-experiment

Downing Street Twitter

For a foreigner without voting rights, British politics can be highly entertaining. Not sure I’d be saying that if the hullabaloo coming out of Westminster was the “politics” I had to grow up and old with. But for now, I feel quite amused reading through all those political commentator blogs and newspaper headlines to discover day by day how politicians in the UK violate the moral and legal law of this land, stage one scandal after the other, and spend tax payers money on luxurious necessities. Good fun.

Now let’s assume for a second I was actually eligible to vote in this country. If nothing happens – and something might as well happen – the next elections will be in June, 2010. Who would I go for? Frankly, I don’t know right now. If I went by who puts on the better political scandal show at the moment, it would clearly be Labour. Well done, Gordon. But since putting on a political scandal show tends to say little about a party’s “being an effective government” show, I’m not convinced.

What may convince me though is the parties online efforts to lure me via campaign spam emails and newsletters. This is convenient for them because they don’t have to go out on the streets or give bombastic speeches; and it is convenient for me because I can just sit here. So from today on, I will subscribe to the main parties email newsletters. Actually, I do it right now. One second…


It’s done. I have now subscribed to the email newsletters of Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats. While I was at it, I also subscribed to the Twitter feeds from Downing Street, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems – and Sarah Brown for some society news.

So far, only the Liberal Democrats have confirmed my subscription with a nice little email. Pretty effective, too, because they tell me how to donate and let my friends know. I just didn’t like that I had to sign up as a “supporter”. Listen, Lib Dems, I’m not a supporter yet. That may come if you keep sending me nice emails and tweets. But I like that you put your website on a Creative Commons license.

The other two parties are too busy spamming my twitter feed with simplistic party announcements or “policy statements”. Especially the Conservatives are frantically typing away at more than one message an hour (not this morning though, so now I know they don’t start work before 10:00 earliest). Dear Conservatives, you should be sending me an email saying how much you welcome me on your mailing list. Same goes for you, Labour Party.

By the way, I once tried the same with the German Conservative Party (CDU). After going through a very thoroughly implemented double-opt-in process, I have received zero emails from them as of now.


Anyways, I will see what happens and if any of these British parties convince me to vote for them. Or just that they put some thought into how to attract voters online. In the meantime, I’ll also keep reading what my local Conservative MP is up to in Parliament, through a fun online service called They Work For You. One of his last requests before going cycling with his family in Lake District was

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the monetary value was of defence costs orders arising from cases determined by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in  (a) 2007,  (b) 2008 and  (c) 2009 to date.

Alrighty then. Through another nice service called Hear From Your MP, he let me know that he has a regular ‘spot’ at Starbucks near the “Winchmore Hill Sainsburys check out” and that everybody can go look for him there. I might just do that…

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