Jo Swinson has praised the potential of new media to make politics more accessible to the public, after she secured a runner-up spot at the New Statesman magazine New Media Awards last night.
Jo was a finalist in the Elected Representative category, alongside David Miliband MP, Councillor Stephen Tall and eventual winner Derek Wyatt MP. Earlier this year she became one of the first MPs to start recording regular podcasts, and she has also pioneered use of websites such as theyworkforyou.com and hearfromyourmp.com to interact with her constituents.
Commenting after the awards ceremony, Jo said:
“I was very pleased just to reach the finals of the New Media Awards. New forms of media are rapidly opening up exciting and original ways for people to interact with, and scrutinise, their elected representatives.
“As a politician I am very aware of the need to be accountable, and I am keen to make the most of new technology insofar as it helps me achieve this. However, new technology must be inclusive to make sure people who are less techno-literate are not left out of the process.”
The key theme of this year’s awards was “the power of ideas”. New Media Awards are granted to groups and persons who use technology as a tool to benefit humanity, whether within individual communities or in society at large. Since 1998, these awards have promoted projects that embrace new technology, fresh thinking and creative management in the UK.
Responding to criticisms made of the website theyworkforyou.com by Leader of the House Jack Straw, Jo said:
“Mr Straw has seen fit to attack theyworkforyou.com for using ‘quantitative rather than qualitative’ measures to assess MPs’ performance. Sites like this are in their infancy, and while they are obviously not as sophisticated as Mr Straw would like, they represent a great step forward in terms of makings MPs visible, accessible and accountable, which is something I am sure he would welcome.”