Innovating from Opposition

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The British Conservatives are widely viewed as being on the cutting edge of online campaigning and “digital democracy”. It’s one of the benefits of being in opposition – you don’t have the infrastructure, institutions and culture that Governments have.

Oppositions can think big, experiment and (this far out from an election) can afford minor failures. Think Obama, using social networking sites (the failure being his campaign’s botched take over of the Obama Myspace page).

The UK Tories have lifted a lot of notes from the Obama campaign’s strategy book, especially when it comes to online organising and campaigning. First was their My Conservatives site (the equivalent of Obama’s MyBO).

Now they’re using Google Moderator to help draft their election manifesto, initially on the NHS (National Health Service), but expanding over time:

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing documents setting out our policies in key areas and explaining exactly how we’ll bring about the change Britain needs.

This week, as David explains in the video below, we’re focussing on the key issue of the National Health Service – you can read our draft manifesto on health by clicking here.

We won’t be picking the questions – you will. We’re opening the process up by allowing you to submit questions yourself or vote on other people’s questions – and those with the most votes will be put to David.

We’re using Google’s “Moderator” tool to collect and organise the questions.

Obama used Google Moderator during the early days of his Presidency-elect and Presidency, which was widely lauded as part of the digital democracy (r)evolution.

So far, over 1,300 people have submitted over 600 questions. Over 20,600 votes have been cast.

A definite success for the Tories in online engagement.

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