Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 17:53 UK

View from the blogs: Was this the internet election?

As the dust settles after a month of political campaigning and the negotiation after a hung parliament result, what will happen to the political bloggers who were suddenly in the spotlight?

Here, bloggers who supported various political parties during the election consider what their role was in the campaign, their relationship with the parties and what the future holds for them.

Read Rory Cellan Jones' blog: So was it an internet election?


Tory Bear blog screengrab
Harry Cole thinks the bloggers will now focus on policies

Harry Cole is a Conservative supporter and has been blogging and twittering under the name Tory Bear.

"I think the blogs are well read amongst the Conservative party staff and MPs. It's all a very healthy two-way thing. The press office will also follow the reaction on Twitter. Do I think my humble opinion has an effect on decisions? Not in the slightest, as there are more important negotiations going on that will affect their careers.

What did surprise me is how quickly the prominent bloggers fell behind the Lib-Con coalition idea, you wouldn't expect that to happen so quickly, even though it is what was needed. We wouldn't want any unnecessary internal argument, it took us 15 years to regroup and be together. They are all united.

I think after this election you will see how they will all push their own agendas about policies.

Blogs have more power now, and any MP would be foolish not to take them seriously. They can bring you down.

There is also more media attention, as the blog entries and tweets on Twitter end up across the papers. They are now part of the news cycle.

The bloggers and twitterers are all grassroots supporters, like myself, pushing their own personal views. There is a wide variety, so it's a good way to gage the grassroots.

Of course, they are all the very committed grassroots activists, so it might be more difficult to get the views of the broad supporters."

Read the Tory Bear blog


Jonathan Calder is a Liberal Democrat supporter and writes the Liberal England blog. He tweets under the name lordbonkers.

There is a danger that it can turn out to be a bit of a bubble
Jonathan Calder, Liberal England blog

"The blogs give party members a space to talk. How far the party grandees read the blogs I'm less sure. But it certainly made a difference for the party membership, especially for the LibDems, as we don't tend to get so much coverage.

I wrote on the Friday after the election that we should accept Cameron's offer in some form, thinking I was being very brave. Most of the people leaving comments agreed, which was a surprise. It shows you you're not alone, and that we weren't a minority. This probably helped Nick Clegg and the party accept the deal.

Before the web there were bulletin boards and a conferencing thing, but I suppose people would be more isolated.

There a danger that it can turn out to be a bit of a bubble, though. We LibDems got very excited when the polls went well and commented on how well we were doing. But it's still very valuable.

Now that we're going into government, which is quite remarkable, it would be interesting to see what happens to bloggers. During the election we were very disciplined, more than we should've been. We'll have to think in our role as bloggers, as different bloggers do different things, some are very loyal and some are very critical."

Read the Liberal England blog


Will Straw writes the progressive blog Left Foot Forward. He tweets under the name wdjstraw.

Left Foot Forward blog screengrab
Will Straw thinks blogs can fill the gap in the market for intelligent rebuttal

"I do feel politicians are paying attention to what's being said on blogs and on social media sites. This doesn't mean that every politician has a Google reader and is analyzing every commentator out there. But blogs have become another important news source for politicians, as they are for people generally.

Some of our best material was picked up by the mainstream media during the election campaign.

There is something of a media taboo that stops newspapers and broadcasters from criticising each others' stories. This has left a gap in the market for intelligent rebuttal that can be filled by Left Foot Forward and other blogs.

One example was a story run by the Express, based on data published in the Spectator, which claimed that 98% of new jobs created since 1997 had gone to migrant workers. We published an analysis that showed this was flawed. The story had mixed up "non-UK born" with "nationality" and had ignored new public sector jobs.

The UK blogosphere has been dominated by the right. Part of the reason for this is that blogging lends itself to opposition. Conservative bloggers like Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes helped frame a critique of the Labour government in the same way that left-wingers did the Bush administration.

But over the last few years Left Foot Forward and others have started to criticise the Tories as a Conservative government in waiting. We are developing a following beyond core activists as we produce more breaking news and analysis.

And with the new coalition in power, this could be the year of the left-wing blogger.

We will gain trust and respect as an alternative news source if we are willing to support progressive policies laid out by the new government. And all bloggers must continue to innovate, experimenting with video reports and online graphics."

Read the Left Foot Forward blog


Ellie Gellard is a Labour supporter and writes the Stilettoed Socialist blog. She tweets under the name bevaniteellie.

Ellie Gellard
Ellie Gellard was invited to present the Labour party's manifesto

"A lot of people were saying this was going to be the internet election, but I don't think it was. It did inform the news agenda, which was interesting, but the election was fought on the doorstep. The Labour party retained the seats it did because of the amazing presence of activists who were day by day trying to get the message out.

The internet was a welcome distraction and made it easier for journalists to get instant opinion from a wider source. I also think the party was listening to bloggers and key activists on Twitter. I was very privileged and honoured to be asked to introduce the party's manifesto.

In terms of getting younger people involved, social media enabled for a community to be formed. There is a lot of young people on Twitter and the blogs singing from the same hymn sheet, which is a surprise for all those who believed that party politics was dead in the young generation.

So it's important to bring all the interested youngsters together and get them fighting for the party. It also gives a voice to the people who might be embarrassed or reticent to go to a local party meeting.

Going from government to opposition is a big change for the bloggers. It might allow you to be more opinionated without necessarily going against your party. And with the leadership contest, the views of the bloggers will be very important. We need a rigorous process rather than a coronation, we need full and frank discussion about policy, direction and ideology."

Read the Stilettoed Socialist blog


It's about asking the right questions at the right time
Mark Pack, LibDem Voice blog

Mark Pack is a LibDem supporter and is part of the LibDem Voice blog team.

"The online world provided a route for party members to be able to express their views very quickly. The speed was particularly important as negotiations were going on at national level.

The LibDem Voice blog had the ability to do a poll for party members and cross-check it.

It's about asking the right questions at the right time. The forums are useful if they relate with what's going on, so we knew we had to ask members about electoral reform.

The internet on this election has been like the mobile phone, it became absolutely essential and people used it all the time, hour by hour. But if you take a step back, you can conclude that neither has reshaped politics in a great way."

Read the LibDem Voice blog


Jim Jepps is a Green Party supporter and was a candidate for councillor in Crofton Park, Lewisham, London.

No one I spoke to in my constituency said to me "oh, I read this on a blog"
Jim Jepps, Daily (Maybe) blog

"I think the media overhyped the impact new media and the bloggers had on the general election. No one I spoke to in my constituency said to me "oh, I read this on a blog". They did tell me they saw the leadership debate or heard something on the radio, so it's still about the old media, newspapers and TV.

But I think blogs and Twitter are a space for party activists and politically committed people talking to each other. It is useful in the long run as it helps educate you or gives you handy hints on particular issues, but it definitely doesn't get you votes.

The Green Party is now taking the internet more seriously, we now have around 200 bloggers. When I first joined the party there were only four or five. It's nice to be able to post videos and an application to tailor the video and send it out, but it didn't have any effect on the vote.

These things are amusing, but won't change your mind about something as serious as the vote. But you do have to cover all the bases, so that the people who might be considering voting for the Green Party can at least look up the policies and the manifesto online."

Read the Daily (Maybe) blog

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