Wednesday, 28 April 2010

General Election 2010: Den of Varying Websites

So, another General Election is taking place on May 6th in the United Kingdom (out of interest, is it catching much attention in other countries?)  They say that with the rise of Youtube, Facebook and Twitter since the last election in 2005, this is the first "internet election".  It kicked off in January with the launch of the Conservative party's poster presenting David Cameron's shiny face to the public next to a slogan about the NHS, which quick as a flash, sparked mockery and a popular website providing users with a template with which to make their own versions.  Tory supporters inevitably retorted with a similar website when Labour launched their own posters later on in the year.  And Twitter has, like it or loathe it, garnered a large amount of attention in the press given its status as a tool adopted on a large scale by political actors as well as a way of gauging instant reaction to events like the Leader Debates and today's "bigot-gate".

I have also been interested by some of the websites that Parliamentary candidates have set up.  My parents' constituency on Mid-Suffolk and North Ipswich has previously been held by Conservative MP Michael Lord.  He has left Parliament and now the Tories have a Doctor called Daniel Poulter standing for election.  His website - - isn't bad, but has one glaring error on its front page:

"Eleven years of Labour failure have saddled us with serious challenges..."

Labour were elected to power thirteen years ago, or does he think 1997-9 were quite good? 

Another feature of his website that I find frustrating is his photographs.  From these pictures, Dan appears to never open his mouth, a problem which would hinder every MP.  The photos themselves are tiny, and in general the website seems very home-made.  Websites don't have to be super-complicated, but a badly constructed website immediately projects the wrong image.  Try doing a simple wordpress blog or Google page.  They're not difficult.  The Labour candidate for the same constituency, for example, looks clear, professional and to the point -

Greg Knight

The oddest website for an MP that I have seen so far is that of Greg Knight, who is the sitting Tory MP for East Yorkshire - (note immediately that the url is complex!)  This website was highlighted on Twitter as having awesome music, and if you have a visit you will have to agree.  Someone has composed a campaign song for Greg, the lyrics of which are:

"Conservatives work for you,
Vote for Greg Knight and you'll never lose,
Conservatives will work for you,
And Yorkshire tooooooooo."

Amazing!  It really is quite odd.

Upon entering, Greg's website looks like it could have been made in the mid-1990s.  There are awful graphics, Greg's booming voice welcomes you, and rolling text trundles across the screen.  Some of the pages feature Youtube videos that all feature some brilliant amateur incidental music.  My favourite is the guitar solo at the end of this vid about a hospital in Greg's constituency:

I do hope that these shoddy websites continue to be made by politicians.  It's such good fun to stumble upon them.

Have you come across any terrible, funny or even brilliant campaign/MP websites?  Let me know.

Edit - It appears that I did Greg a mis-service.  I believe that he wrote his songs himself and is a drummer in a band called MP4!  Fantastic.  All hail King Greg. 

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