Blair and Prescott take to the web in election campaign

With election campaigning now in earnest as the UK general election on 5 May fast approaches, I’m not surprised to learn how the Labour Party is now using its website as an active element in campaign communication.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has a dedicated area on the Labour Party website called Tony Blair’s Campaign Diary.

Looking sort of like a blog but without any of the the key attributes of one – no direct commenting, no trackbacks nor RSS feed – the site is indeed a diary with chronologically-ordered content. While that content is written in the first person, is it actually written by Tony Blair? While I can’t imagine he’d have time to do this, I would guess he has direct input into the content which would likely be prepared and finalized by campaign staffers.

The site’s been up for a week and already there are plenty of posts which include answers to comments sent in by site visitors via an email form on the site. The style of the answers is very distinctive – informal, humorous and with personality, reflecting Tony Blair’s open approach. It is almost like a blog!

It will be very interesting watching how this site develops during the weeks leading up to the election. One thing – a post yesterday was written by a guest poster, Alex Ferguson, manager of the Manchester United football team. More of that type of contribution to come, I expect.

Not only does the Prime Minister have a campaign diary but also John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, does.

Called John Prescott’s Battlebus Diary, this site chronicles Prescott’s campaign travels around the UK with, as it says on the site, "[…] exclusive behind-the-scenes stories and pictures. A glimpse of life on the road during what promises to be a very hard fought election."

Unlike Blair’s diary, Prescott’s is firmly written in the third person with no indication that anything there is written by him, and with no comments.

I don’t see anything similar on either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats websites.

When I wrote last week about the announcement of the general election, I commented on whether we’d see politicians who blog use their blogs as innovative campaign communication channels.

While these two really aren’t blogs, and it remains to be seen how effective they will be, they qualify as innovative in my view.

(Hat tip for the link to the Blair site: Keith Jackson at Corporate Engagement.)

2 thoughts on “Blair and Prescott take to the web in election campaign

  1. I’ve posted quite a bit about what all the main parties are doing about the internet in the UK election on both my PR and councillor blogs. I should declare my interest as I’m a Labour Party member and the party is former client of company (I advised on relationships with the business community). You might also be interested in the fact that the Liberal Democrats have a real blog about its leader Charles Kennedy’s campaign. It is written by a former Lib Dem MP (and blogger) and other Lib Dem bloggers (including a councillor and candidate). The site is referenced on my blog.

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