There’s a certain irony to the phrase Political ‘Party’. After all a 60th birthday would be a very different party to an 18th. Why does this matter? Well if you’re going to invite people, you need to know where they are.

I sat up all night long on the 2nd May 2007 agog; I’d never seen anything like I did that night, I’d never experienced change like it. In fact I even skipped school the next day and the teacher was in approval. How come? It was the night The Labour Party won the general election in a landslide victory, leaving the Conservatives in tatters after 18 years in power, with Scotland and Wales left devoid of Tory representation.  The primary medium of the time was still  TV, and as my parents watched TV, I saw Tony Blair, and he connected with me. He could talk well, he looked passionate, and I felt part of his revolution and change. I felt that politics mattered, and I saw how it could affect my life.

But the last 13 years have seen sweeping and epic change in how we, and especially virgin voters, connect with our world and our country. So why, despite a generation being better connected and better informed than ever before, are more people disenfranchised with politics than ever before?

Student loans, smoking, University, file sharing, sex, houses, entertainment, music download laws, movie piracy, the Internet itself, in fact all of the things which make up our generation are connected and directly affected by one thing: Politics. It matters.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a need can easily be met if it’s planned through. It’s not that people don’t need politics; it’s just that they don’t know that they care because they don’t understand, or feel it’s relevant. On top of that they don’t trust politics. Hell, even my Dad doesn’t trust them and he was a Union representative back in his day.

But I really don’t believe that it’s just mistrust and scandal that’s destroyed it for young people in the UK. A bunch of old men in grey suits talking for an hour is never going to engage them. Not in a month of Sundays.

Let’s look at the facts: The medium is there, the audience are waiting, role models and influencers are powerful and connected with them, so the young people can and should be engaged. Just imaging an entire generation of impressionable minds hungry for information and entertainment all in one place: Online. It’s not political fantasy, it’s real. And even the middle-aged and silver surfers are on it.

So why has it not happened over here? Why are potential governments not where the audience are? I REALLY don’t know.

Connecting with voters has never been easier, and never been this direct, yet it’s simply not happening to the extent it could, and not well enough when it does.

As Marshall Manson, Director of Digital at Edelman says, “the web is aways better for mobilization than persuasion – the obama campaign proved that.” Indeed it did, America nailed it with Obama. Combining social media and targeting was one of the many things that Obama’s campaign did so well.  Their campaign converted people into knowledgeable and empowered volunteers and voters. The social media plan put in place by his team was a massive factor in ensuring his success, and crucially for him, guaranteeing that the new voters, the ones hungry for change, understood and spread the word. Oh, and crucially voted.

The statistics are impressive:

Image courtesy of Edelmen's Social Pulpit. Click to view full report.

Image courtesy of Edelman's Social Pulpit. Click to view full report.

So come on guys. You may not have the cash Obama did, but there’s a social media plan to suit every budget. And if you don’t spend it here, you risk alienating an entire generation. Just imagine how old and cynical an audience of 18 will be in another 13 years, and how well they’ll be able to communicate this distain by the time they’re 31. Voting online and a few Twitter accounts aren’t enough on their own.

Your chance is now. It’s better late than never. I for one would love to get stuck in to a project such as this. I doubt I will however.

More info on this topic:

http://is.gd/aKySh and also http://is.gd/aKyUH

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