Whether Labour can get its vote out will be key in deciding who is going to win the Scottish elections on Thursday. If Labour’s vote stays at home, as most expect it to do, then the polls could well be right and we’re looking at an SNP-led Executive taking power in Scotland for the next four years. If Labour’s core vote can be brought out to the polls – and moreover, persudaded to vote for Jack McConnell’s party – Labour could make an unexpected last-minute comeback. For all parties, Labour especially, this is what all the parties will be doing as the short campaign comes to a close.
Traditional methods of door knocking and telephone canvassing – GOTV to use some politico-speak – only works so far. One new tactic, which I am especially impressed by, is the maximising of your personal web 2.0 presence to spread your political messages. Here’s a good tactic and one we’re going to see much more of: changing your facebook.com profile picture to a political message, candidate or party you support. Try browsing in Edinburgh University for friends on Facebook, for instance, and you’ll see an incredible politicisation of profile pictures lead by Sarah Boyack’s Labour campaign and the other political force on campus, the Greens.
An interesting tactic, but more impressive is the incredible volume of ‘graffiti’ of messages and wall-posts that political themed individuals are now making. By posting on a friends’ wall, you put up a message – be it political or not – next to a picture of your chosen political message where you’re face picture would normally be. This stays on their profile until the profile’s owner deletes it. By trusting someone sufficiently to be a friend, you have to take the gamble that you trust them to comment directly on your profile for all to see. You are associated with their views and vice-versa. When you’re doing this to make a political statement rather than just social networking this becomes a more difficult equation – and one that will test the notion of ‘friendship’ online.
As a facebook-addict I changed my picture to something equally poilitical (disclaimer: I’m a Labour Party member) and I’ve already had a Liberal Democrat remove me as a friend to stop my profile picture (and its poilitical message) appearing on his pro-LibDem profile. And he won’t be the last I wager. Unusually, the LibDems have not yet adopted little ‘winning here’ logos on their profiles. Give it a few days….web 2.0 tactics cannot be ‘owned’ by one group alone….that is what makes it such a useful political resource.