Friday, 15 January 2010

Power to the people

I'm a bit of an oddity when it comes to politics, I'm a big believer I suppose in the Laissez-faire or free market economic ideals. I don't like unions, I don't like censorship, I don't like the level that government intervene. 

That said, I'm not easily placed in a left or right wing camp either. I have things that I believe work and things that don't. 

What has impressed me recently however is the sheer power of social networks, This was apparent during the run up to Christmas when Rage against the machine took the Christmas number one slot of the UK music chart all thanks to one couples silly idea of starting a Facebook campaign for a bit of a laugh! Jon and Tracy Morter from Essex started a group on face book entitled "Fed up with Simon Cowell's latest karaoke act being Christmas No. 1?" and with the viral power of Facebook the membership of the group grew within days.

The couple had suggested a song from the rock band "Rage against the machine" as an alternative. Incredibly, they succeeded and Simon Cowell's X factor winner had to settle for second place.

Jon Morter came up with the crazy idea after hearing that bookmakers no longer take bets on what will be the Christmas number 1. The X factor winner traditionally bags the top spot and Jon thought that was just wrong. So, it would seem did hundreds of thousands of people across the UK!

So, have we turned a corner now? Surely activist groups must have pricked their ears up at this small coup? The next couple of years will be really interesting. 

In the past, the meek and inoffensive people of Britain have demonstrated in our traditional "oops sorry, excuse me, thank you" sort of way against things like fuel tax increases. Truck drivers drive slowly in convoy for a few hours to express their displeasure, or drive to Downing St to present a petition. I've often admired how the French deal with it..... 
They park their trucks in the road, let their sheep wonder about, block all the ports and generally just bring the country to a standstill until they are heard. That is pure people power and I can't help but like it.
It is one thing to elect a government democratically but what do you do when that government start to act against the will of the majority? Maybe, following the success of Jon and Tracy Morter's Facebook campaign we will start to see very strong, organised protests and even protest votes organised through Facebook. Interesting times ahead!

In the words of Robert Lyndsay aka Citizen Smith "Power to the people"

What Facebook campaign would you like to see?

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