Saturday, 22 September 2007

Iain Dale's Telegraph Column - Why the Internet Frightens Politicians

Iain Dale's Telegraph column is always worth a read and his latest installment, Why the Internet Frightens Politicians is particularly worthy. Iain's blog, Iain Dale's Diary is at the forefront of political blogging in the UK. Iain is also deeply involved in the excellent political web TV channel 18 Doughty Street. Knowing what a great medium the blog is, he is a little exasperated at our political elites failure to take advantage of this free and interactive platform. As Iain points out, American and French politicians are miles ahead of ours in their understanding of the web's importance. What stood out for me in Iain's column was his explanation of why blogging is good for democracy:

So if the political parties are failing to use the internet to open up democracy to the masses, who is? The answer is: you. Individuals all over the world are discovering that they can make their voices heard, whether to protest, educate or inform. Gone are the days when the only way a citizen could be heard was to write to a local newspaper. You want to protest at the failure of the Government to hold a referendum on the EU constitution? Sign the petition on the Government's website (petitions.pm.gov.uk) or join the Telegraph's online petition (tinyurl.com/2v4yrt). Online democracy is here, and here to stay.

But just how democratic is it? Some say the internet is an elitist institution as it is not accessible by everyone. Around 65 per cent of British households are now online. With the proliferation of internet caf├ęs and the provision of computer terminals in public libraries, virtually everyone can get online if they really want to. Barriers to entry are incredibly low, with broadband connections available for as little as £10 per month. The day will soon dawn when direct democracy could, in theory, replace our traditional Burkean representative democracy. The Our Say (http://www.our-say.org/) campaign for people to have a more direct say in the way they are governed will gather pace.

This window into democracy is why I started blogging. The more I became interested in politics, the more my frustration grew with the realisation that I only have a say in the way this country is run, once every four or five years. This blog has relieved some of that frustration, allowing me to voice my opinion and get feed-back from my readers. Do I have any influence on the politics of this country? I would say individually not, but when combined with the voices of the 1,200 other political bloggers, my voice is becoming difficult for the political parties to ignore.

So with that in mind I would like to thank all those who visit this blog, whether you just read what have to say and move on, or whether you leave your own opinions in the comments. This blog's popularity is growing and any advice from readers on ways to make it more successful are always welcome.

If you run a political (ish) blog and would like me to link to you, drop me an email.

Cheers

Steve

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