Tories make Hunt online election guru

The Conservative Party has put frontbench MP Jeremy Hunt in charge of its online campaigning as it gears up to fight the next election over the web.

Online focus: Jeremy Hunt
Online focus: Jeremy Hunt

Hunt will go head-to-head with Derek Draper, who is driving the Labour Party’s efforts to have a stronger voice in the blogosphere (PRWeek, 26 September). He will also be promoting the party’s forays on to YouTube and social networking sites.

Hunt told PRWeek: ‘My role is to be public champion of the idea that politicians need to embrace the new politics of the internet.’

Hunt will work closely with Tory head of new media Rishi Saha. He said the new role was in addition to his work as shadow culture secretary and that it reflected the Tories’ determination to win over floating voters.
‘The heart of our internet strategy is that winning elections is about persuading uncommitted voters,’ he said. ‘There is a traditional model of politics that says that the way you win elections is by identifying your supporters… but I think now most people under the age of 50 – and probably a lot of people over the age of 50 – are pure float-ing voters.

‘It used to be the case that people were tribally Labour or tribally Conservative. Now people are making up their own minds and they are doing it from election to election. And our online activity is a totally central part of how we are going to win the argument with uncommitted voters... When we have an important announcement to make one of our first priorities is to get it out through our online channels.’

Hunt said the party had learned from US president-elect Barack Obama’s web strategy. ‘We have studied
very carefully what Obama did,’ he admitted.

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