God save the Queen – and the Internet

In The Great Debate on April 16, 2010 at 09:57

It was almost universal, this morning.  Nick Clegg came out on top of the leadership debates, last night.  Though it may be because both Cameron and Brown were mindful of the gigantic cloud of deadly and evil volcanic dust from the money-nicking, holiday cancelling godless Icelanders.

Quietly dignified and staying on message regardless of where the two traditional parties tried to toss him, Clegg worked the venue like a pro, even though we did find it disconcerting whenever he stared right at us.

What was remarkable about these historic debates, from our point of view, was the sheer volume of tweets that it produced.  At one point, as we watched the #leadersdebate hash-tag, there were more than 17,000 tweets in just under 60 seconds.  With people from all across the country live-tweeting, live-blogging and having debates of their own back-and-forth on Twitter, it was a multi-faceted, value-added spectacle.

But how did new media affect it?

There were tweets from Eric Pickles, William Hague, and a virtual cornucopia of analysts and pundits, all competing on behalf of their Chosen One.  Viewers were able, for perhaps the first time in history, to interact live with senior party officials, without moderation or the interference of handlers.  It was definitely an atmosphere of participatory government the likes of which Great Britain has never before seen.  It was, in our opinion, the very epitome of a strong and vibrant democracy.

John Prescott, the former deputy-PM, was even tweeting in his hallmark off-the-cuff, devil-may-care way.  He even responded to several tweets from the general electorate.  That simply could not – or would not – happen in places like China or Iran.

More than anything else, it illustrated that perhaps Great Britain isn’t so far gone as many think it is, with regard to democratic ideals.

It was a triumph for new media, and a big win for the Conservative manifesto.  In effect, it was just what The Dear Leader Dave wanted.  The electorate actively participating in the government of Great Britain.

We should be proud.  God save the Queen – and the Internet.

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