Vote for the future we need

Vote for the future we need

Summary: As the country goes to the polls, it's not enough to just look at tech policies: what's needed is a party that will reform the basic mechanisms of government

TOPICS: Government UK

This is not an easy election to contemplate with joy. The three main parties are all some distance from sanity.

Labour cannot escape its legacy of waste and mismanagement in government IT, brought about through its characteristic fondness for the hierarchical, the bureaucratic and the well-dressed incompetent.

The Conservatives are terrifying, not because of their promises, but because of what they do not say. They have a solid IT manifesto, but they are coy about how they will make it happen. But we know — because they've said in the past — that the party is prepared to abdicate state oversight and responsibility and leave things to business. Only the blind, the mad or the corrupt could say that the country needs to hand more control over to vendors and consultants.

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Tech election 2010

Labour, Tories, Lib Dems and other parties outline their tech policies on open source, government IT and other issues

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This leaves the Liberal Democrats. Of all the parties, they make the best showing of understanding technology — not just in terms of road maps and PowerPoint pitches, but in the context of society and governance. With a strong commitment to education and a willingness to absorb the lessons of Europe — where the debates about digital responsibilities and possibilities operate at far higher levels than our own — the party's instincts are sound. Whether they will have the courage and good sense to act on them if they achieve a measure of power is an open question. But of the three mainstream UK parties, they most deserve the chance to govern.

But that's not enough. The basic mechanisms of government IT design, procurement and management, and even the basic system of lawmaking need reform. Back-room deals, lobbying and hidden agendas are no way to create a 21st-century digital environment, when most innovation and efficiency come through open standards, transparent methods and honest competition. The way the Digital Economy Act was hijacked by the lobbyists and pushed through without debate — but with the agreement of the main parties — is a true affront to democracy and a terrible indicator of our future without radical reform.

Again, for all their faults, the Lib Dems are the only party to talk in terms of true and fundamental reform, albeit too cautiously by half. If they can create a better voting system that reduces the power of the party machines — one closer in spirit to the ideals of representational democracy — then the chances for further reform will be much increased. The same goes for our hopes for a modern, transparent, accountable government.

Whether the next general election comes in five years' or five months' time, we hope to be able to recommend a party with the vision and determination to change the stale and institutionally corrupt system of self-interest that lies behind so much systematic failure in government. Our best hope of getting that is to start by electing the most reform-minded party, and the one least tainted by power — the Liberal Democrats.

Topic: Government UK

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  • Nick Clegg is the only viable leader among that lot (IMHO). That Digital Copyright bill could not have been pushed through without Conservative help, many of the other nasty attacks on core freedoms had Camerons backing too, he has proposed repealing the Human Rights Act for a watered down version:

    Without the Human Rights Act, you lose the right to privacy, the right to no punishment without judicial process, the right to live with your wife & children, the right to peaceful protest, etc..

    If you look at the lobby money that was backing Labour, now it's backing Cameron, the Murdoch crowd have shifted to him, the Friends of Israel, the Copyright middlemen, the lot of them have switched to Cameron for 5 more years of the same and they are not altruistic, they do it for *their* benefit not our benefit.

    The argument for not voting for Nick Clegg's Lib Dems is that Gordon Brown gets to stay in office a few more days if Lib Dems or Conservatives don't get a majority. Well what difference does it make if you elect another Gordon Brown in a blue suite!?

    The only chance for change IS a Lib Dem government or co-government and Nick Clegg forcing them to listen to the voters.

    Now that we know Labour has no chance, it comes down to either whether you want Tory, LibDem, or Tory+LibDems in power.
  • If you want Nick you are going to have to vote tactically for one more time. Only a lib-lab pact/coalition will bring about the electoral changes to give the lib-dems a true chance.

    If you are in a lib-con battle vote lib-dem, if your constituency is a con-lab battle vote labour.

    Do not split the anti-tory vote as a tory government via the backdoor will not change the political system and let you give Nick a shot at winning a future election.
  • This is so well written. Thank you for bringing clarity to the whole affair with such beautifully delivered phrases as, "the well-dressed incompetent" and "the three main parties are all some distance from sanity."

    I can add nothing.

    Adrian Bridgwater-3dc6b
  • Was IT policy the driving force as I placed my X in the box this morning at my local community centre? As someone who has worked in the business for the last 20 years, who is passionate about technology and the impact it has on society (good and bad) you might think so, but no I have to say it wasn't.

    There are more important things to consider this election of all elections, with dragging the economy through the arse end of this recession being the most important of all. To vote for any party based just on how coherent the IT policy is would be a huge mistake.
  • PS. Yes I *do* care about the Digital Economy Bill, but right now, at this moment in time, I care about the broader economy a tad more. Shoot me.
  • I agree with Davey Winder.
    The Economy is everything - without it you have nothing.
    For me the Liberal Democrats do not have the depth of experience nor the connections required to get us out of the hole we are in. If they are elected we will lose 5 years of recovery.
    All IMHO!
  • I also agree that the economy is way more important.

    One additional comment. You suggest that the Lib-Dems are in favour of reducing the party machine influence. I'm afraid that PR will not do that as I believe the candidates will come from party lists - chosen by the parties centrally. Reduction of party machine influence? I think not!