The general election campaign opened with Theresa May heading for a greatly increased majority in the Commons. Two weeks in, and nothing much has changed. So unless the unexpected happens, we must prepare for five more Tory years.
For civil society, the prospect of continued austerity, and a hard Brexit, is unlikely to receive a gracious welcome.
But as polling day approaches, I doubt that the many serious problems facing us will receive much coverage. There will be little mention of charity, social value, cooperation or collective action. Nor will we see, for example, policy debates on disability, civil liberties or employment rights; while issues like rough sleeping, social care and the environment will not receive the attention they deserve. No, sadly the election will be decided by headlines; and the respective personalities of the party leaders. It will mean surely, an abundance of soundbites and vox-pops from a seemingly dumbed-down broadcast news media; and blatant propaganda from a biased print media.
So that leaves social media as the only platform to see beyond the superficial. Yes, I know it’s a jungle; and yes, it can be manipulated, misconstrued or even faked. It certainly isn’t perfect. But with so many users, the vested interests of the establishment do not dominate. Mainstream, progressive or just unusual, people do voice their views and share their news. In that sense, social media is much more democratic.
And it is on social media that civil society must make its case. We have a lot to say. Government policy directly affects our beneficiaries and our organisations; and there is plenty that could be done differently. So let us not be put-off by regulation designed deliberately to limit the voice of charities, campaigning organisations, and our trade unions. Let us push back, within the limits of the law, to provide a policy alternative. Let us engage with constituency candidates to highlight real problems and demand realistic solutions.
It’s time we were tweeting, blogging and posting. It is time we all became political.
Note: NVCO has published some useful advice on political campaigning.