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This really is the social media election

As UKIP recommences its efforts to win seats on 8th June’s general election and the rest of the parties prepare to re-enter battle tomorrow, think tank Demos has an extraordinary claim to make: the existing means of communicating with voters will eventually go away. They will be replaced, its newest report says, by social media and MPs have to get the hang of this.

Researcher at Demos’ and the report’s author, Alex Krasodomski-Jones, said:
“As our lives have moved online, our politics has done the same. It’s early days, but digital channels are already shaking up the current political system and will, in good time, sweep it away entirely.”

Essentially the report suggests that MPs may not be competent to communicate across the new technologies such as social media, and in an age of online petitions and political memes this is a problem.

It also becomes difficult when someone is either irresponsible with their social media accounts – take the activist who tactlessly suggested that the appalling bomb in Manchester was good timing for the prime minister – or deliberately misleading, or, as in the case of the American president, appears to Tweet at will without considering the consequences or normal protocols.

Combine this with an environment in which MPs can receive 190,000 abusive tweets in a three month period and the potential toxicity of the situation becomes clear.

Krasodomski-Jones continued: “Efforts is required – from political leaders, from technologists, and from those participating in digital politics- both to improve existing technology and, vitally, the culture of digital politics. A failure to prepare for these challenges will bring increasing disenfranchisement, decreasing faith in the political system and anger. Embracing the opportunities could prove vital in revitalising our democracy in a time when it feels under threat.”