Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Will 'Text Gary to 65000' Change the Face of Political Campaigning?

A new twist in the way in which the http://freegary.org.uk/campaign is being run has implications for Political Campaigning in the UK and for the first time in this country applies the lessons learned from Obama’s 2008 victory. Political Campaign Managers Take Note: A new type of Interactive Campaigning is coming to a constituency near you.

Some months ago Bunnco decided that inflation was just round the corner. So he bought a house in Norwich to rent out on the basis that it was less likely to devalue as fast as Sterling will. My new tenant moved in last week and, in passing, told me that she’s involved in the campaign to prevent Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the US on charges of computer hacking and espionage. The campaign is about to step up a gear in advance of an Appeal Court hearing and new technology to spread the word is being developed just two streets away. As it was just around the corner, I called by….

There are lots of campaigns about. Some are very local – perhaps a fund raiser for the local children’s hospice or hospital scanner. Others are regional or national, often run by professional campaigning organisations like the larger well-funded charities. Newspapers used to be ‘campaigning’ organisations, championing one issue or another. And Government with the deepest pockets of all gets in on the act too with shady organisations like the ‘Carbon Trust’.

So it's difficult for the one-man band campaign get traction when there are so many other issues competing for attention. But things have changed and since Labour’s victory in 1997, technology has democratised campaigning. No longer are we spoon-fed the lobby correspondent’s view. We can think for ourselves. And we can publish ourselves. Just ask Guido.

It's easy to forget that in the old days running a single-issue grassroots campaign meant getting cold on a wet Saturday afternoon Demo in London waving placards & blowing whistles. But that's all old hat and technologic advances have are bleeding into political campaigning at local level.

In my own backyard back in 2007, South Norfolk Conservatives launched their district Council election campaign on YouTube as part of an integrated technological fight and turned a deficit of 8 seats into a majority of 32 at the Council. It was the Conservative's best showing in that set of elections and at the time it was a first. The technology worked and now everybody’s doing it.

The Interweb has changed much but not everybody is like us, sat hunched in front of the PC reading posts like this or twittering away on myfacespace. It's a start but to go massive, you need a message and SMS. Yes, internet is good but there are more mobile phones than people. And that’s what Obama’s people understood in 2008.

So that’s why I’m interested to follow the way in which the tussle to prevent Gary Mckinnon being extradited to the US is breaking even newer technical ground implementing the text-message technology that Obama used to such great effect. Where it was used it’s reported to have increased votes and turnout resulting in a 10% swing in certain districts. And if you think that sort of thing doesn’t work over here and I’m over-egging this, just ask Simon Cowell and Rage Against the Machine.

People who want to register their support for Gary McKinnon’s Appeal against Extradition need only text 'Gary' to 65000. So far, nothing new. But where this campaign partially innovates in the political sphere is that they’ll receive a text reply, which they can pass onto friends and family.

This has previously been financially out of reach as the reply text message for a mass campaign has previously cost a fortune.

Positive-feedback makes a campaign both viral and interactive. And it can now be done for a couple of hundred quid… Just the sort of thing that makes it viable in a single constituency, which is why I’m following the outcome closely.


In a further development, the total replies for McKinnon will be collated and duplicates removed using the sender’s mobile number as the key [with the first digits then removed to protect privacy and prevent spam]. The total number of unique respondents are thus validated and a daily summary sent to key politicians, including in the this case, the Home Secretary, to keep up campaign momentum.

So, the same technique used by commercial sponsors to generate sales leads from TV Adverts, where funding isn’t a problem, is now breaking into the UK Political & Campaigning scene at prices any candidate can afford.

Forget about Uniform National Swing. If you want to get elected it’s all about campaigning, pledge building & getting out the vote and then polling one more vote than the next man in your seat. In the marginal constituencies where General Elections are decided, this sort of technical edge, especially driving turnout from 6pm on polling day that will deliver results at the margin where a handful of votes is enough. It’s why Obama did it. It’s why the local Tories are putting so much faith in their MyConservatives approach. And why the others are frantically playing catch-up.

I’m not one to join single-issue campaigns. After all, politics is one great big campaign anyway. But I believe that participation in Politics is partly about respect for the ‘little man’ standing-up for people like Gary McKinnon, impaired as he is with Aspergers Syndrome. How can he be characterised in the same way as a Taliban insurgent? It’s insane to suppose that he was maliciously responsible for derailing CIA/FBI computer systems, which should have been better protected anyway. He should be getting a medal, not a life term. For those of us that have interest in technology and its role in Political Campaigning and Betting, McKinnon is a case of There But For The Grace of God Go I. Rant over.

But follow the technical aspects of Gary’s Protest carefully and text Gary 65000. It's Free. Pass it on.

Bunnco - Your Man On The Spot

http://freegary.org.uk/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_McKinnon

48 comments:

Alastair said...

Bunnco, this is an excellent article (even though I am not a supporter of Gary McKinnon's campaign). Many thanks for it.

antifrank

Anonymous said...

Bunnco, I agree, excellent article and I will text and support Gary's campaign. Many thanks for the tip.

Peter from Putney said...

"Some months ago Bunnco decided that inflation was just round the corner. So he bought a house in Norwich to rent out on the basis that it was less likely to devalue as fast as Sterling will."

Eh?

I don't quite follow your logic there Bunnco. How does buying a UK property isolate you from falls in the value of Sterling? If this was your primary concern, perhaps instead you should have invested in a foreign currency denominated asset.

David H said...

Bunnco, excellent post and yes, technology will transform how politics is conducted, though I suspect it will affect how the agendas (agendae?) are set a lot faster than how parties campaign. Parties - and especially activists - can be pretty set in their ways.

Ref your house purchase, if inflation does head rapidly upwards, won't interest rates and mortgage rates follow, with a knock-on effect on affordability and house prices?

Don said...

Anybody here from the main site?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else locked out of the main site?

Sean Thomas said...

I'm locked out. Cause of the Brown stuff?

Don said...

Looks like the new server has crapped out due to traffic issues.
hopefully it will get sorted or everyone will migrate over here

Sean Thomas said...

It really is a bit duff that pb STILL can't handle major events, without instantly crashing.

Guido works just fine, even when the Pope claims Gordon Brown is a pedo. I do not see why pb can't do the same.

Don said...

This whole issue appears to have legs. This is good for a number of reasons
a) Brown had a reasonable PMQ for a change which won't be reported
b) Labour party in total disaray, even using the Tory election slogan
c) Gives us something to talk about for a change

Sean Thomas said...

Come on Smithsons, get yer arses in gear.

Anonymous said...

Ladbrokes offerring 3/1 that gordon won't be around for the election.

I think B365 had a market up a week ago or so.

Betfair prices have suddenly jolted into action.....

Slackbladder said...

Oh noes! It's site two for us!

EdP said...

Why does the server always fall over when things get interesting? I hope Mike can sort it out before the GE. Is it time for another whip round?

Me said...

It's back

Alastair said...

Shall I open a mirror thread of the main site so we can continue discussions here?

antifrank

Anonymous said...

Oh no it's not!

Slackbladder said...

Robert has just swapped the database over to another system I think, so maybe teething troubles with that and the increased demand following H+H call for Browns head.

Me said...

Not anymore...

Anonymous said...

I need NEEEEWWWWSSS!

best I can find so far is:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/jan/06/pmqs-houseofcommons

Anonymous said...

Dear Colleague,

As we move towards a General Election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.
This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the Government. Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.

Strong supporters of the Prime Minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.

This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.

In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.

Yours fraternally,

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt

Plato said...

Looks like we'll be down for a while at this rate.

Slackbladder said...

Maybe OGH should do what my good missus did with our Sky dish, poke it with a roll of chrismas wrapping paper to shake the snow off.

Anonymous said...

It was the main story on news.bbc.co.uk a few moments ago but now it's back to the snow again - am I going mad?

Anonymous said...

It was here but it's been taken off
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8443769.stm

jsfl said...

Oh well back to the Pb2


Ho Ho Ho oh what fun Labour can't even wait until they are beaten at the GE before they commit suicide.

Sean Thomas said...

I hope this crash is just because we've swapped servers. Otherwise its quite seriously pants.

I am always happy to defend the Magnificent Smithsons, and they usually are Magnificent, but you can't honestly claim to be the "political website of the year" and have a website that crashes as soon as politics gets interesting.

It defeats the whole unique attraction of blogging politics, which is the instant, real-time swift, unrolling nature of it all.

I might as well wait for the Illustrated London News for my info, at this rate.

And what's it gonna be like at the GE?

Tut.

Slackbladder said...

It's funny, if tim n gabble can try to paint the tories as being 'in disarray' I wonder what this means labour is?

Plato said...

Hilarious quote of the day IIRC :

Chris Bryant

"I think this is a grenade with the pin still in. I think it'll fizzle out by the end of the day."

jsfl said...

Geraldine Smith (Brownite witch) getting her claws out on Sky insulting her brothers and sisters.

Oh what joy!

Simon said...

Geraldine Smith is talking utter guff on SKY news

Why are Labour MPs scared of secret ballots? What does that say about their view of democracy

Alastair said...

I've opened a dedicated overflow page on pb2 to cater for the continued intermittent outages.

Me said...

"(...)Interestingly, this has taken many backbenchers by surprise. One persistent rebel (who I trust) was telling me only this morning that he was unaware of any new co-ordinated plotting, to his disappointment."

http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2010/01/new-challenge-to-gordon-brown-from-hewitt-and-hoon/

Plato said...

Mirror guy [not Muckguire] on R5 saying there are 40-50 MPs who hate Brown and have been agitating for months to get rid of him.

jsfl said...

Why is it no Brownite can speak English properly? Smiths diction is diabolical.

As for Brown with his 'constichunzy' and 'seighs' and 'alky ida' he'd be better off going to remedial school rather than standing for Parliament again.

Plato said...

Rebels demanding vote now and result announced in time for next Monday's meeting of PLP

Plato said...

Hewitt on R5 now.

jsfl said...

Hoon on Sky

Plato said...

Wow - great inside track from Waugh about Jowell.

EdP said...

Hewitt on R5. By all accounts she simply turned up at the studio. Brown must be $hitting himself, whilst Eddie Balls rubs his hands with glee and thinks of 'the precious' that he thinks is now within his grasp.

Neil said...

Waugh doesnt expand on the Cabinet minister who is about to resign then? How strange.

jsfl said...

If as the Brownites keep saying there are only a few conspirators why have they continually refused to put it to the vote. Why hasn't Brown called their bluff (as John Major did?)

EdP said...

New thread

Plato said...

It's down again.

Plato said...

Live updates at Politics Home

Sunil Prasannan said...

Hope the main site gets up and running soon!

Manged to get into work today but not staying for long.

Any way, I've got a "cool" name for the cold snap - The Curse of Copenhagen!

Plato said...

www.PB2 server is out - use main pb.com

Nefertiti said...

The extradition treaty that McKinnon is being prosecuted under allows the US authorities to extradite UK nationals with no evidence. When it is the other way around the UK authorities ahve to present evidence in an american court.

This is a treaty neither labOr nor the CONservatives will ever change due to them loving the yanks.

Free Gary !