Human in the throne?

In March, 2007, for a Guardian column, I asked the then-head of now-PM David Cameron’s web strategy whether the man would continues making his personal, folksy videos if he moved into No. 10. Sam Roake replied: “If it suddenly stopped, that would be seen as a very cynical move . . . You can’t stop communicating.” This, he argued, is “a new stage of politics” that is about “sustained dialogue with the public.”

We shall see.

The new No. 10 moved to new YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter addresses. They are putting up press conference videos and linking to photos of the PM.

Yes, but will he talk with the people from the kitchen, as he used to? His last Webcameron video asks people to vote (you’d think he’d at least have one saying thank you). We haven’t yet seen the PM buttering toast. Will he? Can he?

Barack Obama got to office using the internet to be human and then he took on the imperial form of the office, mostly giving pronouncements. And he now inexplicably tries to paint himself as a techofuddy. Nicolas Sarkozy also got to office using video to present himself as human. Now, I suppose, he’s more human than ever — though inadvertently; when I search YouTube for his name, the first video is of him drunk at the G8. Germany’s Angela Merkel, who frankly never came off as terribly warm and human, nonetheless make a podcast.

Can a politician who takes the highest office stay human? In this age, can he or she afford not to? I think Roake was right: not to continue communicating eye-to-eye makes the persona of the campaign into theater or it makes office into theater.

Here’s a video I did of Cameron in Davos in 2008 asking him about talking to small cameras:

  • Tim

    Politics is not just about process. It’s about principle. David Cameron is a perfectly decent person but he doesn’t believe in ANYTHING. Every policy is on the table, everything is malleable. I’m sure a lot of people like this — I don’t. And with a coalition government, it is inevitably going to end in tears. Seriously, what is Tory or Conservative about David Cameron? Margaret Thatcher must be having fits (except that she is in the throes of dementia).

  • So it turns out that politicians (including the sainted one) are cynical in their use of social media? Next we’ll find out that corporations are taking an equally selfish approach.

  • Interestingly as a pastor and church leader we all struggle with low-attendance from time to time. A congregation of 1000 usually has 500 attendees on any given Sunday. A sad story where a pastor’s wife was hideously sucked out of a moving bus and killed resulted in ALL of his congregation attending week in week out for many months since the tragedy. I put this down to people seeing the current single pastor as “Human”. People have all sorts of evil ideas (and conspiracies ref: yesterdays post on Google Germany) in their head of people’s motives:

    Such as: “Obama is a Muslim” and “The Pastor is only after your money”

    When people SEE (rather than hear) that a leader is human, 99% of their evil/conspiracy theories get a huge hole through them.

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