Mary Dejevsky: It really won't be the internet that wins it

Share
Related Topics

Not a day now goes by without someone dubbing the coming election the e-election, the Twitter election, the Facebook election, the first British election that will be won or lost in the virtual world. My inbox is stuffed with invitations to hear stars of the youthful e-establishment and their older acolytes expatiate on the theme. So far as I can judge, our revolutionary e-election has eclipsed climate change as the belief of the age – and it is being preached with similar evangelistic fervour.

For the benefit of anyone who remains sceptical in the face of this onslaught, believers play the Obama card. The US has its first black president thanks not only to his charisma, but to the way he harnessed the internet to mobilise his millions – of voters as well as dollars. It worked there, the inference is, and for whichever British party gets its internet act together, it will jolly well work here, too.

Well, I may be a dinosaur – on a moonlit night I even tend to the view that newspapers have a future – but I'm not so sure. How far the last US election was an e-election is not as cut and dried as you might think. Yes, the Obama campaign used the power of the internet in a highly professional way. But its main benefit was in the area that most conspicuously does not cross the Atlantic: fund-raising.

Even if you look at the US by itself, Obama was not the first to tap ordinary voters for contributions. Howard Dean – remember him? – was the pioneer. And the many small contributions Obama raised from enthusiastic voters were still not enough to replace the need for big donors. "Obamania" was whipped up at least as much by word of mouth, traditional phone campaigning (now via text) and the televised debates, as it was by use of the internet. Email and websites facilitated communication, but it is largely those already engaged and e-capable who seek out the websites. In Britain, for all the political genuflecting before Mumsnet, this means a coterie of mostly young and young-ish men.

The big difference between this UK election and the last will be the televised debates. Television is still where the mass audience of voters is to be found – as indeed it still was in the US in 2008. A good or bad performance, a single gaffe, the personal impression – all these will count, even when the only vote people cast is not for prime minister, but for their local MP.

What may well count even more, though, is popular contempt for what is widely seen as the political "class" – generated in part by press revelations about MPs' expenses. The future of political advertising may indeed be jeopardised by the fact that anyone e-literate may "edit" the best of the parties PR efforts online – remember the witty hatchet jobs on David Cameron's NHS poster – but the efforts of amateur e-editors reflect the rebellious mood that is already out there. They are mirrors, not creators, of the political climate. No one here has come close to conjuring up an Obama-style sense of hope.

Our uneasy romance with rural life

Sad to say, I'm pining already for Lambing Live, which – like Spring-watch and Autumnwatch before it – proved so popular that it was accorded an omnibus edition of highlights the following Sunday which, so far as I could see, was not billed in advance. I came upon it, alas, when it was already half-way through. Given that spring is so late this year – the daffodils are still not out in St James's Park – there is surely a case for an instant repeat, even if the lambing won't be quite "live" any more.

Glorious as it was to wallow, even briefly, in the world of woolly, wobbly, all-dependent animals, however, I was still not entirely convinced. Was this the countryside trying to make its peace with the town, or the town taking a voyeuristic peep at the countryside? While clearly delighted with the lambs, Kate Humble, seemed not altogether comfortable trying to straddle the two worlds. And I could never quite banish the thought of what a French audience would make of Lambing Live. I suspect they would draw a rather more direct connection between new lambs and – I'm already sorry to mention it – dinner.

I've come to see the art, not make friends

My heart sinks on noticing an advert from the Tate – Britain and Modern – for "visitor experience managers". Spelling out the role of these new employees, the advert says they are to be "champions" for the visitor. "Seeing Tate through our visitors' eyes," it says, "you'll take ownership of their needs and lead a team... ensuring that every aspect of the experience is taken into account."

Now I have a shrewd idea of what awaits: more or less cheerful staff, identified by cheap, coloured waistcoats, accosting me when I arrive to sing the joys of the latest special exhibitions (£12 a go). The same waistcoated beings will offer unsolicited recommendations as to what I might enjoy (regardless of what I have come for), and hover over me when I make to leave to ensure that I drop my "voluntary" contribution in the transparent box. They will be blind to the poor maintenance of the loos.

Well, let me say, as a visitor, what I would like from my "champion", whether at gallery, museum, art-show or anywhere else. I would like short queues, preferably none at all. I would like there to be no fee to leave my coat. I would like the loos to be plentiful and clean. I would like the lifts to be signposted and to work. I would like the print on the labels to be in proportion to the pictures, so you don't have to keep putting on and taking off your glasses.

I would also like to be able to buy something – a picture, say – without having to divulge my whole biography, which is then used for "feedback" or "follow-up" in the form of surveys, promotions or invitations to meet the artists. I'm delighted to leave artists in all disciplines to do what they do best, and I would be happier left alone with my enjoyment, too.

* Opening the box of my new, sleek, slim, silvery laptop, I was horrified to find a bulky cable and three-pin plug that negated many benefits of my lightweight powerhouse. A Korean student in London, Min-Kyu Choi, had the same experience. Unlike me, he did something about it. The ingenious result won this year's Brit Insurance Design Award. It's a three-pin plug that folds. I can't wait for it to go on sale.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea