The Americanisation of the London Mayoral election

Having contributed a small amount to help Boris get elected as London Mayor, I get regular email updates from his and his team.

In January Boris informed me in an email that “The Evening Standard has today revealed that 2010 saw the lowest murder rate in London since 1978.”, and he’s kept me informed on the Olympics, the trains and more.

However, the election for Mayor of London isn’t until May 2012. The increase in emails and campaign websites is a sure sign that we’re copying the US model of beginning electioneering over a year out from the election. Not entirely sure that this is a good thing. It’s not only wearing on the campaign team but also supporters. But, hey, since it’s Boris, there’s bound to be some humour among the policy announcements.

In March Boris’s team told me about a new website – Not Ken Again – with the strap line “The web site that every Londoner should read … but Ken hopes you never will”.

Then this week Boris launched his super whizzy new activist Back Boris 2012 web site, adopting the tactics familiar to US elections – relentless promotion, elector involvement, online comment, and use of social media. Here’s what Boris’s email about this new website said,

“By signing up for your own personal Online Activist dashboard, you can connect directly with activists across the capital and share knowledge and ideas.

It also means you can feedback on-the-ground intelligence to the team at campaign HQ and will receive exclusive access to Activist-only updates and challenges.”

This is pioneering stuff for UK elections. Anything that increases involvement is politics at the ‘grass-roots’ level is a wholly good thing. It’s just that we’ll have to accept now that election campaigning doesn’t happen a matter of weeks or months before an election – it’s now in years.

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