UK Politics

Webcameron is coming

Nowhere is safe. Someone told the Tories about YouTube and now David Cameron is YouTubing it from his kitchen – he is doing the dishes and he wants to share it with you.

The frontpage of The Guardian this morning reveals how the Tories plan to use the internet to reach out and hit a new generation.

The paper says the Tories plan to target the blogging generation who are “disaffected and disconnected from mainstream politics”. It wants to try and entice them in and as part of that effort the new community site they’ve launched is branded in pink and “consciously plays down the party message”. It’s very Web 2.0 looking.

At the centre of the Tories new internet driven strategy is the Webcameron. That’s right, lame word play is pretty damn important in 21st Century politics, as if you didn’t know.

When I put this into Google it asked me if I meant to type Webkamera? That’s right, see what they did there? Like a lot of German words it’s almost English, but not quite, almost there, but a little off. The same could be said for the Tories attempt to storm the internet.

As well as regular video blogs by Dave speaking direct to camera, there will also be podcasts and blogs with guest bloggers, kicking off today with maybe the next US president Senator John McCain. Although neither of the blogs (“guest” or “open”) are working right now, but like the new Tory party it’s all in beta mode.

With Dave in the kitchen for his first Webcameron he says he wants to tell us “what the Conservative party is doing, what we’re up to, give you behind-the-scenes access so you can actually see what policies we’re developing, the things that we are doing, and have that direct link … watch out BBC, ITV, Channel 4, we’re the new competition. We’re a bit shaky and wobbly…”

He talks about behind the scenes access as the kids scream in the background. Caring father to the fore. He promises lots of stuff about party conference and speeches and then its over. Finishing with the line “right now I’m going to wash up the porridge”. What a guy.

All this comes, sadly for Dave, as the Independent reports today that the Tory lead has evaporated. That’s a seven point lead, gone. Tony Blair’s great conference speech a good conference all round has to have eaten into that.

The first outing conforms to the classic YouTube content formula in that it has absolutely no substance and in that way is no different from the tens of thousand of other video clips online. Like the one I watched yesterday called “Free gas (two girls dance around there 4×4 at a gas station…after getting free gas)”.

It’s hugely corny as well, continuing the whole Dave – man of the people – thing, like him cycling to work…followed by a couple of cars. Because that’s how you save the environment.

But that aside, the Tory spokesman is right though when he says it shows that they “understand the web” and it is way ahead of what Labour is doing online. Remember those risible World Cup blogs with Alastair Campbell and company? Labour needs to get chasing.

Labour does have some video clips, but it is all strictly old school. Where is Tony’s conference speech? Nowhere to be seen. That should have been on available on the site to video share and open to people to comment on. But nothing like that. It needs as the Lib Dems and others have done open forums to help campaigning, exchange ideas and fun.

During the last US election the blogs showed how powerful online could be. While it had little impact on the last British election that will clearly change next time around with social media from blogs, community and video sharing all playing a much bigger role.

Out on the campaign trail a great video clips of an off the cuff remark, or in John Prescott’s case a general cuffing, could have a real impact once released online.

Gordon better get moving. The Tories are promising Webcameron twice a week. Next week he’ll be in the garden digging up his turnips.