The revolution starts here – by text

Might the last week have encouraged the idea that the time has come to cut the crap and start a new form of politics? In GB, that half-traditionalist, half radical Andreas Whittam-Smith, founder of the Independent, is the latest to spot the opportunities offered by New Technology.

The way to secure the election of independent members is to use digital technology flat out: websites, emails, mobile phones, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, e-newsletters, online advertising. Barack Obama made masterly use of the internet during his march to the White House.

Whittam Smith is talking in the metro UK context.

Earlier this week, in an announcement that could prove to be momentous for British politics, an organisation called the Jury Team, created by Sir Paul Judge, stated that through its website,, it would arrange a nationally co-ordinated process that would select independent candidates in primary elections. We would cast our votes by mobile phone. And then at the general election, the candidates thus selected would have the backing of the Jury Team in making full use of digital technology in all its forms.

Jury team as described mightn’t have much appeal in NI, but could the idea be adapted locally? The USP is that electronic primaries would be held to select candidates throughout the community, thus jumping over the sectarian hurdles to optimise the chance of identifying quality people free of Stalinist control. Or would the process still get bogged down in the comfort zones of moribund ideologies?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London