I’ll happily admit that Ryan Coetzee’s name is one I’d have been hard-pressed to remember at the start of this week, and one which I still have to double-check the spelling of. Yet at a vague remove I’ve been impressed with his work with the Democratic Alliance in South Africa, for whom he has been at various times both an MP and their Chief Executive.
They’ve done some very impressive online campaigning, pulled off some good election results, had a successful overhaul of their organisation and managed the politically very difficult task of taking a party rooted in white support and starting to win significant support from the black community too. Cross-community support in a country as polarised as South Africa is very hard to pull off.
Which is why I think his appointment as the new strategy advisor to Nick Clegg is really good news.
There is much more to him than online campaigning (as this piece on the nature of liberalism shows), but as that’s an area I have a particular interest in given my own past with the party, it’s particularly good to see someone appointed who has the sort of natural understanding of the power of social media evidenced in this article from 2011. Oh, and he’s already following me on Twitter…
Of course, what really matters is not his past but how he does in the job. The early signs, however, are promising.