Up to 100 Lib Dems are set to convene at the end of this month to thrash out ways in which the party can improve its internet communications.
The assembled internet specialists will discuss ways to use the web to mobilise supporters. They will also look in to the possibility of unleashing a ‘star blogger’ to rival Labour’s Derek Draper or the Tory-leaning blogger Iain Dale.
The meeting on March 28 will be chaired by Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who was recently appointed by party chiefs to head a new ‘technology advisory board’.
Featherstone told PRWeek she was expecting between 50 and 100 web-savvy Lib Dems to show up at the party’s London HQ. Further meetings are planned to take place outside of London later in the year.
Featherstone said: ‘We have an army of members who want to help and are already doing something on the net. So we’re going to put that army to use. We’re all meeting up to look at which web tools need improving and how we can do that.’
Asked whether the party was looking for a louder voice on the blogosphere to rival Draper or Dale, she said: ‘Yes, there’s going to be a whole range of things. I don’t know about a star blogger but we are keen to improve our engagement with the outer world, so it’s all up for grabs.’
It is understood that invites to the initial meeting were mainly sent to bloggers and web campaigners with experience of software coding.
The Lib Dem initiative follows concerted efforts by both Labour and the Tories to bolster their online communications. But Featherstone insisted the Lib Dems were not trying to catch up with the two main parities.
‘We’ve been ahead of the curve in many ways but we don’t have so much money to go out and buy stuff,’ she said. ‘So it’s not an attempt to catch up, but an attempt to maximise our use.’
Featherstone said of the new technology advisory board she is chairing: ‘It will oversee everything to do with the internet – e-campaigning, websites, emailing – because we’re brilliant at it at the Lib Dems but it’s like herding cats, it’s all over the place.
'It’s got two essential remits: to vastly improve our engagement with the outer world and to enable all our members and supporters to maximise their use of the net for campaigning and engaging with local people.
'There will be a whole range of individuals involved in making sure that we discuss Lib Dem policies widely on the new – using the Greek chorus, basically.’