Interview : Jo Swinson – MP for East Dunbartonshire (part two)

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As promised yesterday we have put together part two of our interview with Jo Swinson.

This time we were interested to hear wht her thoughts were on the effectiveness of an MP having a website. Is it useful and how is it aiding campaining?

So without further ado, her’s the second part and you can read her answers for yourself.



Do you think that awards such as the ‘MP Website Awards’ by the British Computer Society are doing their part to highlight to MP’s the importance of an on-line presence?

Things like the BCS “MP Website Awards” do highlight best practice and that helps to share it; you can visit the winners’ websites and see what good ideas to try.  Most MPs now realise that it’s important to be online and use the internet as a tool to engage with voters, but a small number seem to think that it’s OK in this day and age not even to have a website.

You recently appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Week in Westminster’ discussing why MP’s should be more involved in Digital Media. Do you think that MP’s who refuse to embrace technology will be left behind?

MPs who don’t embrace technology may be left behind, but it doesn’t follow they will lose their seats.  Ultimately though, all MPs will catch on; some will be early adopters, others will eventually succumb to the inevitable.  I love the way that digital media is starting to change the power balance in politics, giving grassroots campaigners the tools to mobilise large numbers of people quickly.  Who knows how it will evolve next?  That’s half the fun.

How effective has your e-consultancy option on your website been for gaining information. Do you feel you are reaching people that may not have otherwise contacted you.

The e-consultation that I do really helps me to track local opinion.  On most issues so far it has been fairly clear cut, but on whether alcohol taxes should go up to help tackle problems associated with alcohol, there was literally one vote in it.  As it’s an opt-in e-consultation, there’s no spamming; people have to contact me to ask to be included, so it probably isn’t reaching a wider audience.  It does, however, seem to be deepening the relationship between those people and their MP, and many constituents have fed back to me how much they appreciate being listened to regularly.

In terms of your website, do you track where and how visitors are arriving to your site?  If so, how does this knowledge help you re-asses your campaign?

There is a whizzy page that I can check site statistics on, and occasionally I have a wee look.  I don’t use it for any particular purpose to change campaigning tactics, though it is interesting to see which pages are most popular.  If I’m ever on TV – especially BBC Question Time – the hits go through the roof.

Do you already have, or would you ever consider an Internet Marketing campaign for your website to really push you above the competition? (hey…you can’t blame us for trying!)

It’d be lovely in an ideal world!  However I have to work hard with my team of local Lib Dem volunteers to raise money through events and small donations, and the first priority for spending is printing the leaflets which we deliver regularly to the 35,000 households in the area.

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