Rafael Behr presents a political essay on the topic ‘The real opposition’ in the New Statesman of 26 March 2012. Picking up on the intransigence of whether social media and the Internet are affecting mainstream politics, the conclusion remains still unsure. Despite the excellent work done by the likes of 38 Degrees and others, there remain a majority of those who probably need to influence politicians without access to or interest in the Internet and information technology. Whilst this doesn’t demean the value of ‘clicktivism’, it does reduce its status as a democratic tool, since it remains one for the younger, educated middle classes.
I can sympathise with the concerns of MP’s whose inboxes fill up with robotically generated email from constituents who have an interest in the latest mass-mobilised issue, since quantity doesn’t necessarily recommend a mandate for action, but being able to raise enough supporting voices must have some value, although as Behr acknowledges it can be seen as mob rule – but that is perhaps what is needed?