President Obama's US digital agency appointed by UK anti-racist group

LONDON - Blue State Digital, the US digital marketing agency behind President Barack Obama's acclaimed online election campaign, has been appointed by a group fighting the British National Party's attempt to win seats in the European parliament elections this June.

Blue State Digital, which famously helped Obama to mobilise millions of people behind his campaign, has been employed by a grassroots network across the UK as part of a campaign to stop the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, becoming the far-right party's first MEP.

The firm began work last week and has already signed up thousands of supporters and donors.
The activities of the group -- under the banner 'Hope not Hate' -- are being co-ordinated by the anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight.

The first phase of the digital campaign will be an email sent to supporters who are asked to forward it to five friends and make a small donation.

The software means campaigners can track who opens the emails, where they are sent and what happens when they arrive at the other end.

Nick Lowles, who is leading Searchlight's Hope not Hate Campaign, said: "We have been working with them for a week and a half, and already the results are pretty impressive.

"We have had more small individual donations in the past two weeks than we have had in three or four years, and the technology is already allowing us to build a vibrant, bottom-up activist movement."

The BNP is fielding candidates across the country for June's European elections, and analysts believe the party could be on the verge of an important breakthrough as support continues to increase, while the UK Independence Party, which picked up a number of seats last time around, flounders.

Thomas Gensemer, Blue State Digital's managing partner, said: "We want to lower the bar to allow more people to get involved and feel like they can make a difference. We provide the tools, but the message has to be right. Otherwise, it simply will not work."

The Searchlight campaign to stop the BNP is the first time that online political campaigning has been used on this scale in the UK.

Lowles said: "It means we can build a massive grassroots campaign with groups in every local authority area and an army of volunteers. This is about working alongside our traditional campaign, creating lots of local groups that people are actively involved in and ultimately control."

Searchlight's campaign follows news that Labour is waking up to the uses of social media and launched its own social networking site last week.

Read Gordon's Republic - Labour wakes up to social media

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