BY Nik Butler
Over the next few weeks certain words will begin to appear with an abundance that would put the spring arrival of crocuses to shame.
Pledges, Promises, Manifestos and Priorities will begin to take centre stage in the daily lexicon of conversation over who votes where and why. The cause of this deluge of ideals is the upcoming General Election and with it the almost necessary need for clear lines to be drawn over what it will mean to place your vote with certain parties or independents. Up until recently the usual process for political manifestos prior to polling day were party conventions at which ideas and values are discussed, shared and voted upon.
The resultant dogma is then assembled into a collection of statements which will form a large portion of promises to be made by candidates and spokesmen. Every party will insist that this is an open democratic process. Open that is providing you have paid for membership and attended the approved meetings; one might ask if anyone might wander in off the street and take part in those discussions.
Certainly for one party; ‘The Something New’ party this is exactly what is occurring. Their manifesto; their ideals and promises are constructed through debate and votes that are apparently not limited to party membership, conference attendance, or approved committee meetings. In place of the traditional convention centre dialogue is an online presence available to anyone with an Internet connection; which presumably includes those publically available at public Libraries.
OpenPolitics is termed as an experiment in creating a collaborative political manifesto. It is part of the driving force behind the idea that political party ideals should be formed through public opinion. You can see the Manifesto as it is edited online at http://openpolitics.org.uk and you can contribute by joining Github which is also free and requires only an email address.
This is the crowdsourcing of consensus and whilst it may not have the reach of reality TV with overly simplistic ‘dial now to vote’ concepts it encourages discourse and a level of transparency of decisions which are quite literally unseen in any other parties manifesto creations. Whilst I am not a member, nor am I standing to represent them in May, I feel that in light of our Districts need for transparency in decisions making processes we would do well to pay close attention to something whose promises are open.