British politics is under threat, as the current political landscape leaves countless unrepresented, uninspired and calling for change.
The OpenPolitics Project, a non-partisan experiment, attempts to cleave open the system and re-engage a frustrated public in democracy.
And how could they achieve this? Through creating a shared political manifesto forged from the best and brightest ideas of the masses.
The goal is therefore, to create an open, transparent democracy and government that is truly representative of the public.
Founder James Smith, a candidate for political party Something New, is running for the OpenPolitics Manifesto in Horsham, Sussex, this year.
He told MM the background and benefits of the project.
“The project started because I was frustrated that nobody was presenting a platform that I believed in, so a few of us decided to start building one,” he said.
“After the EU elections happened last May there still wasn’t anyone who expressed the future I wanted to see.
“I decided that I had a civic duty to offer that vision, which was expressed through the manifesto.”
The manifesto works in similar ways to Wikipedia, as anyone can propose policies on anything that they desire.
Each idea they propagate is examined, discussed and voted upon by existing contributors.
If a policy is agreed, it is merged into the manifesto and the new contributor is entitled to vote on future proposals.
“That way, it’s open to everyone to change, but maintains a sort of consistent direction,” said Mr Smith.
“In terms of exactly what gets added, it’s all down to whoever makes the contribution – there’s no overarching plan.”
Proposals that have been approved include the end to the war on drugs, with the legalisation of recreational drug use under a programme of regulation.
Others include the recognition of Palestine, complete nuclear disarmament, devolution, and the right to die for suffering individuals.
The proposals are intentionally idealistic and represent the direction supporters of the project would like to see the UK heading in.
Mr Smith and the project’s other advocates hope it will tackle disillusionment with the current democratic system.
“People don’t feel that their voices are heard, and that they don’t have any way to influence the way our world works,” he said.
“Citizens see large parts of their communication going online and becoming networked, while politics is still broadcast from the centre.
“People are developing a greater desire to participate and be heard, I think. This experiment is a way of letting them do that.”
Mr Smith’s political party, Something New, was formed by people frustrated with the current state of democracy, and who want to stand for a better future.
The party adopted the OpenPolitics Manifesto to show that people do not have to put up with current politics and can take part in a more meaningful way.
The manifesto is not exclusive to Something New however. According to Mr Smith, it is open to any party who ‘truly believe in an open approach to government being one that will lead to a better future’.
See The OpenPolitics Plan for yourself here.
Image courtesy of Gerry Manacsa, with thanks.