British Politicians Fail To Interact Online

Dennis Faas's picture

A new report finds that British politicians are not doing enough to harness the two-way communications offered by the Internet. While most use emails and have a website, few have their own personal blogs or social networking pages.

The survey, carried out by research group the Hansard Society, questioned 168 of the 646 members of the British parliament, selected as a representative sample. Only 8% of those questioned did not have a website.

However, the proportion who engaged in other forms of online communication was generally inversely proportional to the level of interactivity involved. While 83% had a website of some form, only a little over 10% used either a blog or a discussion form, while just 6% had communicated with voters through instant messaging. (Source:

Departing Politicians Keep Quiet

In most cases, interactive technology was (as you'd expect) more popular among younger politicians. However, there did also appear to be a weak link between how close a challenge the politician would likely face for re-election and how interactive they were. Those who had won their seat with a majority of more than 30% were only a quarter as likely to use social networking sites. In some cases those who had already decided not to run for re-election were the least communicative online.

The study authors believe that some forms of communication such as email newsletters and audio or video updates on a website will become more popular as younger politicians take office for the first time. However, social networking and blogging may be close to their peak with many politicians believing they are ineffective because some or even most of the readership is made up of people from outside their constituency (equivalent to a Congressional district in the US).

In general, politicians from the three main parties had similar attitudes. However, those from the Liberal Democrats were notably more likely to communicate via text messages and run specific web-based campaigns. Those from the Conservatives were more likely to use instant messaging but least likely to use social networking. (Source:

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