Britain is today waking up to a hung parliament following the 2010 General Election. No one party has been able to secure an outright majority in the House of Commons, meaning there will now be a frantic period of negotiation to decide the shape of the next government. The journey to the election has been a bit of a roller coaster, with political favour seeming to change day to day amongst the electorate. At the start of the year, when rumours of a May election began to surface, everyone assumed the party leaders would be taking a leaf out of Obama’s book and fighting a modern fight via digital media platforms and social networks. I attended – and blogged here about – a talk at the Frontline club about the role social media might play in the run up to the election. The consensus was that in engaging the public on digital platforms, the opportunity for conversation, discussion and opinion gathering would be all the greater and more valuable.
As it happened, it was the X-factor style televised debates that had the most effect. The British public are, it transpired, more hardwired these days to make decisions based good old fashioned dance offs. They are hungry for personality, style and flair. They want drama, intrigue, controversy and an underdog. And what with the wives, the ties, Bigot-gate, and Cleggmania, the party leaders delivered on all fronts. The huge voter turn out last night, accompanied by the typically English brawling as the 10 o’clock deadline loomed, proved that the public wanted their vote to count. And, with a tough few days ahead for those in Parliament commence, the voting public wait eagerly to see whose mandate really has the X-factor!