First of all let me emphasise that “Keeping An Eye On The Czar Of Russia” is not a “Politics Message Board”. This is a Blog, a Journal, the ramblings of one person…me. You may be reading this on 29th February 2016…or you might have stumbled across it on 18th June 2173 (or some stardate) as you trawl thru long forgotten iclouds as part of your dissertation for a history degree at Queens University, Belfast.
Sources are of course important. I doubt anyone in 2173 will consider that “Fitzjames Horse” is a useful good source for whats happening in the world, Ireland or Norn Iron in the early years of the 21st century…No doubt History professors in 2173 will be guiding students towards Huffington Post, Guido Fawkes, Politics.ie and Slugger O’Toole as being influential.
As the “Czar of Russia” reference implies I am highly skeptical of the Internet being a reliable guide to Politics. Indeed we often hear …especially in Norn Iron …that our politicians are out of touch with real people.
I do not know how many people are registered with Ireland’s premier message board “Politics.ie” but I am aware that nearly four hundred people contributed to its online poll “How Did You Vote in the General Election?”. No doubt this is a fraction of the number of registered users in the Republic of Ireland but presumably is fairly representative of the total.
But I notice that the votes of the Politics.ie readers are a bit different from actual figures.
I set out below the Politics.ie figures.
FG: 17% ..SF: 26% ..Lab 8% ..GP 8%…FF 3%.
and the Actual figures.
FG 25%…SF 14%…Lab 7%…GP 3%…FF24%.
From these figures, it seems that those who took part in the Politics.ie survey were unrepresentative of the Irish electorate. There is of course no way of knowing if it is representative of registered users on the site. But there is no reason to think that supporters of one party are more likely to express a preference online to this extraordinary extent.
Certainly it makes me think that it is at least representative of “discussion” on the site, relating to 26-county matters. I dont contribute regularly to Politics.ie and rarely if at all to 26-county threads.
The obvious question is just how useful this site can be to (say) students of Irish politics in (say) United States or Britain. A reasonable conclusion might be that Sinn Féin and Greens supporters are more likely to influence Politics.ie discussions than Fine Gael and
Fianna Fáil supporters. It can hardly be due to the cliché that FF supporters are old men in the west of Ireland.
Is there a group-think…the site effectively in the grip of dazzling metro-textuals, who are removed from REAL politics?
Is Internet Politics….FANTASY politics?
Is it different in the North of Ireland where Slugger O’Toole is the market leader? I cant see Mick Fealty allowing a thread which captures the voting intentions of Slugger readers. It would, I suspect damage rather than enhance Sluggers reputation and possibly show evidence to a group-think or even agenda.
Is there a group-think within Slugger which possibly is more supportive of Alliance and liberal unionism…LetsGetAlongerists….than DUP, SDLP or Sinn Féin? Do SF and Alliance supporters make up the bulk of the readership.
We will probably never know….but it is reasonable to think that the smart-alec mantra that politicians are out of touch with the electorate is a false premise.
Surely the Internet Message Boards are out of touch with the Electorate.