People 'on the internet' are not stupid. If I thought that then I'd think I was stupid (although I occasionally do), and add to the kind of "wurrrgh, blogs and Twitter are rubbish aren't they?" drivel that you see regularly churned out in the mainstream media by people whose output is, somewhat ironically, a steaming shite compared to a lot of what you find via Twitter and blogs.
And I'd argue that there is some value in listening to voters rather than driving a steamroller through what they tell you they want. And if today's proposal by the Tories to create a Have Your Say for the UK were genuinely about creative policymaking, then that would be magic. But it isn't. You can see even from this distance that £1million for one website is ridiculously bad value for money - and taxpayers' money at that. But of course Tories - given that it's them who would be doing the wasting, were they to be elected - are roundly behind this pointless bit of pantomime posturing, arguing that it's crowdsourcing, brilliant, intelligent and wise.
I'm sure, of course, it won't be used to justify pre-existing policy decisions by sifting through the evidence to find people clamouring for the rich to pay less tax, the public sector to be burnt to death, etc etc, and will never simply ignore huge weight of public opinion towards matters such as not invading other countries and killing thousands of people. How many petitions on the Number 10 website, for example, end up as policy, affecting policy, or being anything other than ignored, unless they agree with what the Government wants to do?
It would be nice to suppose that the Tories would be entirely different, and would really want to engage with the people rather than simply cherrypicking the bits they want and rejecting the bits they don't; but their commitment to representative democracy hasn't yet creaked into life regarding a representative voting system, as it hasn't with Labour, so there's no reason to imagine they're desperately keen on anything other than being in power. This, like the Number 10 petitions, will just be a Cahier Des Doleances for the 21st century - a way of letting the non-political classes think they actually have some kind of influence, without ever going anywhere near giving them real power.
This Have Your Say UK could, in the end, be as valuable as the BBC's Have Your Say - in other words, not really valuable as anything but a cheap laugh at best, a virtual local library for enraged poor-me I'm-the-real-victim types to ejaculate giant lakes of bile. I'd like to hope it's not the case, and that this could really be a wonderful democratic tool, but the cynical part of me imagines that within hours of being set up it will be swamped by the "bring back hanging" and "our masters in Brussels" types who regularly spout such delightful dangleberries as are featured on the beautiful Speak You're Branes (this post on David Ethics, 'the most pompously petulant bumgrape I've seen for quite a while', gives you a flavour of the regular contributors to the debate.)
As I see it, there is a better way of 'crowdsourcing' than setting up a £1million website in a competition. It's called electoral reform. The Tories may claim the public know better than the politicians, but if that's the case then let them keep the £1million and put it towards genuine democracy in Britain, rather than attempting to create a cargo-cult engagement with the proles. If any major party did that, they'd get my vote - which wouldn't feel like it was being wasted, for once.
No related posts.