We have a reasonably good understanding of why people vote for political parties. A mixture of context, Media Opinions, Policy, Branding and perceptions of key figures within the party. Strangely, however, very few questions seem have been asked about why people vote for people.

Received wisdom would state that the personal vote is not important. “200 max,” I remember being told. I disagree. For example, there is no way that there are 24,000 natural Liberal Democrats in Harrogate and Knaresborough, but there is an extremely popular MP who spends a lot of time in the constituency and starts his re-election campaign the day after a general election.

From my limited experience, there seems to be one over riding, all-important factor – interaction. People are more likely to vote for you if they feel that they know you and they won’t feel that they know you unless they have interacted with you in some way. You can put out all the literature you like and some people will read it, they may even remember what you stand for but they won’t feel like they know you.

Standard political campaigning gives you two ways to interact with someone. You can phone them or go round and know on their door. Social media offers numerous others and what’s more, it offers a way of interacting with the very same group of people that are the most disengaged with politics.

So why “the New Politics?” Politicians of all colours have been moving towards a new localised agenda. For me this represents a serious shift away from the centralised control model that’s been in place since 1997 and provides new opportunities for MPs and councillors to connect with their communities.

The advent of social media can allow a real interaction on a large scale. It can do it cheaply, effectively and it offers a chance to bring back into the democratic process a group that has deserted it en masse over the last few years. 

If that doesn’t revolutionise how politics connects with the public then what will?

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