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Politics and the New Media

The internet can be a great way to spread your message, but use with caution. It is also a fantastic method of embarrassing yourself in front of thousands, if not millions, of people.

This month has been a disaster for politicians using New Media. Gordon Brown utilized Youtube to promote his key messages, but unfortunately the only image he managed to promote was looking like a complete idiot. The local Herts Lib Dems also used Youtube with disastrous consequences; Cllr Witherick's rap with a 'radio 4' accent proved that he was certainly not down with the kids.

The government wants all citizens to become actively involved with democracy. The Number 10 website encourages members of the public to use 'e-petitions'. But currently the e-petition with the highest number of signatures requests Gordon Brown to resign. Also let us not forget that the recent 'smeargate' was initiated by the political blog, 'Guido Fawkes'. The internet can be a great platform for debate, but do you think that the new media enables you to express your views to your local representatives?

It is quite clear that many people are completely fed up with politicians; the current Gurkha debate is a good example. It was evident from the start that the public felt outraged that these Nepalese soldiers were not entitled to citizenship, even though they risked their lives for our country. It was made even worse by Joanna Lumley and the Gurkhas' campaigning for civil liberties through several 'tiers' of democracy, including the High Court and Parliament. Sadly, it is still unclear if the Gurkhas will be granted citizenship. It's events like these that cause the public to feel powerless in influencing decisions from their own elected representatives. Could the power of the New Media be harnessed to empower the public to lobby politicians?

I wonder how the general public would like to converse with their elected representatives. President Obama used text messages in his election campaign to communicate with supporters. Would you like to discuss issues with your representatives by text, email, Facebook or Twitter? Or do you prefer more traditional methods such as surgeries, phone calls or letters?

It seems unfair that so many of us are completely unaware of what our elected representatives are doing, even though they effectively work for us and no-one else. At EHP we do not feel that the people of East Herts are being properly included in the democratic process and we would like to activate change. We are currently experimenting with new methods to inform the electorate, such as our community newsletter and this website.

Our candidate for St Andrews Ward, Jim Thornton, proposes to spend his Councillors allowance, not on himself, but on producing a community newsletter, similar to the newsletter we recently produced. You may have had this posted through your door and if so, what did you think of it? Did you find it useful?

We would really appreciate if you could please spare a few moments and tell us your views on the New Media. We want everyone to feel included in democracy, whether you're tech-savvy or not.

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