Having left a comment over at David’s about his post on Digital Dialogues I did promise (in an email) that I’d expand on the thoughts I left there.I argued that political parties (particularly at local level) should:
stop believing the press they get and recognise the strengths they have in being a persuader for better civic cultures. It’s members of political parties that a big part of the civic glue, serving on school governing bodies and health boards, active in local charities, and of course the people who put themselves forward for elections to councils, regional bodies and parliament.
These thoughts come from looking at the online presence of the local parties here in Lewisham. None of the sites are absolutely dreadful (although the West Lewisham Tories old site was close to it) but none of them make any real attempt to go beyond a fairly basic description of who they are.
In part I expect the reason why these sites are as uninspiring as they are is because no one is really thinking like a visitor to the site.
I’d like to see us try to do things differently, I’d like to show you the range of people who have joined the Labour Party and why they think that by doing this they are helping create a better Lewisham and a better Britain.
I’d like to try and explain a bit more what being an active member of the party means to me and the hundreds of other Labour Party members across Lewisham; what inspires us to join, to become active and to stand for positions. How we contribute to our communities in all sorts of ways that are all but invisible in the mainstream debate about Lewisham, but which mean that our schools, hospitals and charities are rooted in the communities they serve.
I’d like to show you just how hard our representatives work on your behalf, and some of the successes they have.
And I’d like to have a better debate about policy.
I think that some of the new ways of using the web would help do that, but we need to believe that we have a message that is worth telling and that the public might be interested in hearing it.
And while the web is not the primary place for this to happen, it should be part of a strategy of trying to describe who we are, what we believe and why we think you might want to help out.