Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Reaching out of the 'goldfish bowl'

Had an interesting chat this morning with Peter Adam Smith and his colleagues from Politics Wales, all students at JOMEC in Cardiff Uni. It was a good opportunity to redress the balance with many of their recent contributions having been made by parties other than our good selves, the Welsh Conservatives!

It was an opportunity to once again stress the need to protect health spending in Wales and to remind the public that Labour's unfortunate legacy to Wales has been cuts of £435 million to the Welsh NHS in this year alone! I have made the case on a number of occasions for ringfencing the budget, outlining key areas where we feel huge improvements to health outcomes in Wales could be made.

Firstly, we would introduce a national 'Cancer Plan' that would be implemented by a dedicated Cancer Co-ordinator. It is something that has been launched with success across the Severn Bridge and we genuinely feel that it would deliver improvements in the early diagnosis and treatment stages of cancer care. Next, we would give our struggling stroke services a much needed funding boost... Experts have damned Welsh stroke services as amongst the worst in the UK. This is simply not acceptable. These plans are costed rigorously and would be paid for by ending the unfair practice of free prescriptions for higher earners, although they would remain for 93% of medicines issued in Wales.

Peter also discussed the future of social media in politics - a fascinating subject indeed. Personally, i think that politicians have a duty to bridge the 'disconnect' in any way in which they can. If the public are changing the way they communicate then politicians should respond to that for sure. If that means using platforms like Twitter, Facebook and so on, then i'm all for it.

I do, however, feel that the fanfare with which Obama's usage of social media was greeted has placed unrealistic pressure on politicians from this side of the Atlantic. His campaign is rightly heralded but will take some doing if it is to be matched never mind improved upon over here. Politicians have been criticised for failing to make the most of the interactive potential of the internet, for failing to make the switch from 'send' to 'receive' mode... However, Obama's campaign was as much about his own personal story as it was about the methods he employed and we can't forget that!

I do think that elections in the future will be hugely influenced by social media, and i intend to maximise their usage in my own campaign. Having said that, politicians of all shades of the political spectrum need to make sure that they are reaching outside of the 'godlfish bowl', and to the public at large! (Not just to the journalists, support staff and politicians who are paid to feign interest!)

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