The Financial Times reports today that:
"Sam Roake, who worked as a Google “maximiser” writing copy for online adverts, exchanged last week the free smoothie drinks and cool T-shirts of Google’s London office for the Conservatives."
Roake, a recent Oxford graduate, will report to Steve Hilton and his role will be to look at harnessing community websites and the blogosphere.
Commenting on the new internet role, Tim Montgomerie said that it should be "about getting the internet out of the ghetto". It is vital that the party adapts to this ever-changing medium, particularly with the rise in micro-campaigns which are facilitated by it.
As the Editor of this website discovered on his fact-finding trip for the Party, there are both good and bad lessons to learn from the highly developed use of the internet in American politics. The New York Times recently made eight interesting observations on it, such as its ability to engage with young people. Conservative Future has made some effort to do this with a website updated regularly by volunteer copy-writers, and fledgling attempts at online CF TV and Radio.
Happily, there are other signs that the Party is taking the internet seriously :
- Bloggers have been exclusively briefed by the Party Chairman
- The Party leader and other senior figures have written for this site
- The internet will be "used extensively" in the London mayoral selection
- Bloggers will be catered for at the next Party conference
- The Party website is gradually becoming more interactive
The Democrats in America have shown that opposition can breed innovation, and the Conservative Party must take this opportunity to continue to develop its use of the new media and narrowcasting. Perhaps its political philosophy also gives it an advantage over Labour, as Francis Maude told the FT today:
"You’ve got to be very open and very confident and take risks and not think that you can control everything… We’re pretty cool with that."
Let’s hope that we not only stay ahead of the game, but that we dominate it.