Osbourne: Time to embrace criticism

In his speech last week, George Osbourne notes that government should foster “a culture that welcomes criticism and comment – then reacts to it”. But he’s not just talking about governments, parties need to snap to, if there is any chance it is not to get left stranded. Just take our parties’ websites. With the exception of the UUP our parties’ websites still languish in the same non communicative condition they were last time out, three years ago. If internet years are like dog years, that is a whole generation ago. Maybe it is time to move on?

If you had logged onto Moveon.org last Tuesday, tapped in a ZipCode, you would have been directed to the nearest house where you could go to make phone calls on behalf of Democrat candidates. 6,921,000 such calls were made via the website.

These on-line political networks are springing up in the UK too now – and interestingly they are almost all Conservative ones.

Take Conservativehome.com.

It’s an on-line community of Conservative activists that engages in a constant commentary on what the Conservative Party leadership is up to. Thanks to them our attempts to keep our new A-list of candidates secret lasted about 24 hours – not because it leaked but because individual candidates were identified one by one by friends and friends of friends on the network.

My first reaction was to be annoyed. And then I paused and thought about it, and realised something exciting was happening. There was a vibrant, noisy, irreverent Conservative community out there. Our party was alive not dying.

Although I am sometimes the target of members on Conservativehome.com, it is unambiguously a good thing that it exists.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty