No. And yes.
OK, serious answer. We don’t think left and right are useful terms in modern politics (and think you’ll have a hard time finding anyone who does). The old parties that use those terms are split, and today they don’t mean much more than which football team you support. Instead, there are new dimensions appearing in politics. We are open rather than closed, internationalist rather than localist, and want the future to work for everyone, not a few. We’re not left or right, but forward.
Rebalance the economy. Our economy is a tool for society, not its master. Financial inequality is a bad thing for society. We want to ensure everyone can meet their basic needs, while still encouraging enterprise and innovation. At the same time, we need to help the economy adapt to increasing automation. A Universal Basic Income will be an important part of this change.
Serious action on climate change and other existential threats. We are a planetary-scale civilisation with planetary-sized problems. We have to work together as a species to solve them, and we have to do that quickly if we’re going to make it through to a glorious future. We need to take decisive action to shift to a zero-carbon economy as soon as possible.
Democratic reform. In the short term we want to to make our democracy more representative of the public’s views. And, in the long term, we want to build a truer democracy with better methods and modern technology (e.g. liquid or delegative democracy).
Protect civil liberties and human rights. Basic rights that we grant to everyone, unconditionally, are what make us an advanced civilisation. We can’t forget those basic rights and liberties when they are inconvenient. We will repeal laws that restrict these (like mass surveillance), and protect those basic rights.
There’s lots more, of course. Take a look at the manifesto for the whole lot.
None of the existing parties represent what we want to be, and what we think is unique about us. While we have big areas of overlap in policy with many existing parties, at our core is openness. Existing parties are often more like tribes, fighting the enemy, whereas we want to be about openness and consensus from day one. We want to show that politics can be different, and so we’ve been 100% open from the very beginning, and always will be.
Most of UK politics works on structures from the Industrial Revolution. We are a party built for the Network Revolution, a modern choice without the baggage of old labels.
We also have a bit of a startup mentality. If you had an idea for a new product, would you join a huge company and try to convince them to make it? Or would you start something yourself and disrupt the market from below? We know which we’d choose.
There’s an old joke about a driver lost in the countryside. She sees a local, and stops to ask directions to her destination. The local resident says “Hmm, well, if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here”.
We believe in a future where we can do better than today’s representative democracy, with its tribes and antagonism. But we also know that that will take a long time - we, as a society, aren’t ready yet. There is a lot of work to do before we can offer direct democracy to all, and a lot of problems to solve. So, we’re starting from here. We’re working with the system we have now, standing for election, and trying to move things towards a future where the party doesn’t have to exist.
The UK electoral system doesn’t work for small parties at all. But all new movements start small, and though it can take years, everything has to start somewhere. There is a movement towards better democracy happening all over the world, and that movement is growing. As well as building our own base, we also want to work with other parties to build that movement. We don’t yet know who has the right answer, who will resonate best with the public. We’ll find that out through experimentation, and this is ours.
The other reason to have a small party is to do things the large ones can’t do, and show that it’s possible. For instance, we make our policy 100% in the open, and we publish all our finances openly too. These are better ways for parties of all sizes to operate, and we can show how by doing it.
Most parties will say that their policy platform is open, that anyone can get involved. And that’s true to an extent; you only need to pay a membership fee, propose policy to the annual conference (and attend), then if approved, trust someone to actually write it into the manifesto for you.
With ours, if you have an idea, you can click a button, write it in, and after a week of voting it could well be policy. As long as you’ve got access to the Internet, you can take part. It’s a little bit easier.
This is probably the most unusual thing about us. Most simply, it’s because the OpenPolitics project existed before the party, and we haven’t yet decided to merge the two. There are a lot of people in common - the leaders of the OpenPolitics project are also the leaders of Something New, but not everyone is involved in both. Certainly, not all the authors of the manifesto are members of Something New.
The open manifesto is a process that can create a political platform through consensus and open democracy. This party is a way to offer that to voters through current electoral system, and a way to build up a political brand that can have some appeal.
Having a little separation is also a statement of our rock-solid belief in openness. The manifesto is an open project that anyone in the UK, or even the world, can contribute to. We believe in openness so deeply that we as a party place our trust in that process, separate from ourselves. The manifesto also isn’t tied to one party. It’s available for anyone to stand on as an independent, or even for other parties to adopt.
Of course, we’re also agile, so this might change in future. See the next question for the conditions under which that might happen.
Yes and no. Everyone who gets a proposal accepted gets to vote on future proposals. That means that getting a vote is pretty easy. In theory a load of people could make sensible changes, then propose something terrible and work together to vote it in.
Under the current voting system though, it’s a lot easier to reject changes than get them accepted. Every voter can use a block vote, which is a thousand times more powerful than a simple downvote. These can be used where changes violate the principles of the manifesto. If someone tried to take over, we have no doubt the blocks would come out in force. But, this is experimental, so of course we don’t really know yet.
What we can guarantee is this: today, the core principles of the open manifesto and the party are the same. If they ever diverge, the party will take a copy of the manifesto and carry on with its own version under the same rules.
We don’t have a proper membership scheme up and running yet, though we will soon, and it will be free to join.
In the meantime, visit our “get involved” page to find out how to join our open forum and mailing list. We also depend on donations, so if you want to support our work that way, you can donate via PayPal. Again, more options coming soon.
That’s not a question, but thank you! 😊