Prime Minister Gordon Brown (Labour Party) announced May 6th as voting day for National elections. Not that he had much choice, given the fact it is required by law, 3 weeks after May 6th. The PM no doubt wanted to wait as long as possible to hopefully use results of economic recovery as part of his election platform. Like the U.S, the recession hit the UK hard, wiping out pension funds, stock valuations as unemployment figures skyrocketed. Wanting to point the finger of most of the financial disaster at U.S. regulatory oversight has not worked.
This election will be very different from ones of the past. Internet Social media is going to play an important role in the outcome. Already the major parties are publishing on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and their own websites. Tabloid newspapers famous for getting scoops that are often inaccurate will have competition in how voters absorb party issues, candidates, speeches and discuss issues. No longer will the 30 second sound bites from tabloids be the only source to be all that is absorbed. Twitter will likely play a big role. Will serious issues take center stage? Possibly...
Candidates that trip over their own feet will be challenged and eaten alive in the world of 7/24 Internet news. Political blogs are likely to weigh in with views that will have to be considered and rebutted. The political campaign playbook has been revised with the advent of social media on the Internet. Already Youtube videos are up. The challenge facing all the political parties is staying on message, avoiding media gaffes (impossible to do in the U.K.) and drowning in noise. The Internet will also haunt candidates with past gaffes, which will be replayed over and over again. Youtube is going to be a very busy place indeed. Believe it or not, this election will also be the first time that the leaders of the parties will be on National televised debates. No word on how many, but you can bet they'll wind up on the Internet. The emotions of candidates along with body language will be clipped, snipped and misconstrued a few million times over the next 4 weeks.
The hot topics are no different than anywhere else in the world: employment, taxes and education. Running behind those issues is health care, foreign policy and trade. In the U.K. European Parliament policies will also be a factor, though many analysts believe it is not a deciding factor how voters will choose who wins.
Two groups will have significant influence on how the vote plays out: the I-Generation and independents, those that are not affiliated with any party. As in the U.S. those two segments are a significant portion of the population. Failing to meet their satisfaction could prove to be the deciding factor. Both of these population segments are plugged into Internet social media. That brings into play other important political hot potato issues such as Internet policies surrounding Privacy, Copyright, Internet Access Rights and Broadband services. The Digital Economy Bill and all it contains will be the subject of debate that could sway those under 35.
If you're into politics, it's going to be fun to watch. Watching from across the pond may bring more than a few chuckles as many will witness "they did what??"