This week in the United Kingdom, the voting public go to the polls to elect their new government and local representatives in the 2010 General Election. This is one of the closest races in generations, and students nationwide will play an integral part to play, with Web and social media availability never seen before in a UK election.
Eligible voters have less than five hours left to cast their ballot, and at a time in the day where most people are winding down from work and off to the polling station, a final push for voting is needed.
There are three major players in this election race. The Labour Party with its incumbent government, headed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown takes the left-wing approach. The current opposition the Conservative Party, headed by David Cameron tips the right-wing perspective. And the party which could totally spin the balance, the Liberal Democrats, headed by Nick Clegg take the centrist view.
ZDNet.co.uk has a brilliant running commentary on the parties views, which are reflected in short in this post. But, in a nutshell:
The Labour Party would like to continue the use of technology in surveillance through CCTV, DNA databasing and national ID cards, while shifting funding from the extremely expensive NHS IT project which has already cost around £12 billion into schools and developing education IT. This party after all introduced and passed into law the Digital Economy Bill, which sparked a furore of criticisms to promoters of a "free Web" calling it a "wave of censorship".
The Conservative Party wants to break up huge government IT contracts and split them down into smaller, more manageable chunks to increase the spread on businesses. Their technology manifesto also states their plans to roll out 100Mbps broadband across the population by re-diverting public licence fee money from the BBC instead of Labour's 50p per month plan.
The Liberal Democrats which will, in effect decide the outcome of this election even though their chances of reaching a majority in Parliament are slim, have a clear agenda to support technology startups. They would however not support the measures of website blocking in regards to online privacy laws. On the other hand, they are aware of the £16 billion spent on government IT and will be engaging in other tech procurements such as cloud computing and the use of open-source software to cut down on their bills.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru (Party for Wales) will feature heavily in the devolved areas of the United Kingdom, and have applied such policies to ensure that their respective countries get what their citizens need. Both parties advocate broadband access to even the most remote parts of Wales and Scotland, and Scotland will continue to benefit highly from e-petitions which allow simple access to democratic tools. Though, Plaid Cymru does not have any other major tech policies which it can bring to the country.
And frankly, the other parties don't matter because they won't get enough seats to form a government, nor will they have any party backing in the Commons.
I've already voted. Will you?