Fed-up with the political class? Write your own manifesto
We’ve launched a new site called Guerilla Manifesto. Here’s why we think it’s needed – and how it works.
Guerilla Manifesto is a publicly written manifesto, suggested and voted on by you. In the run-up to next year’s UK General Election, we wanted to provide a platform for policy ideas and proposals from outside of the political class. The site allows you to post your own policy ideas and to vote on the ideas put forward by others. The most popular policy ideas, as voted by you, will form an alternative manifesto, to be presented to politicians by May 2015.
A couple of years ago, we set out ten reasons why social policy should be developed by and with the people who use and provide public and voluntary services – from the simple fact that policy would be better because it would incorporate the intelligence and insight of those at the frontline, to how this might help to strengthen democracy, trust and participation. We also just think it’s the right thing to do.
In addition, the few years haven’t been great for the political class. The main political parties have continued to decline in membership (less than 1% per cent of the electorate is now a member of the Conservatives, Labour or Liberal Democrats), and in contrast to typical election campaigns, the Scottish independence referendum showed what a genuinely engaging and engaged public debate can look like. The recent party conferences presented the same stale ideas – from slashing welfare and promising (unfunded) tax cuts, to unimaginative pledges to ‘protect the NHS’ while accepting continued austerity. No wonder that four in 10 people feel alienated from the main political parties and say they will not consider voting for any of them (young people are even more disengaged, with 46 per cent of under-30s saying ‘none of the above’ when presented with a list of the parties).
We can do better than this.
Politics is changing and our political institutions aren’t changing nearly quickly enough to keep up. We increasingly expect and demand that our voice is registered and (to some extent) listened to. We want to be involved – where institutions can demonstrate that they recognise who we are and that we have something to say. We increasingly want to represent ourselves, rather than be represented. The rapid growth of communities and movements such as Avaaz, Change.org, 38 Degrees, and Citizens UK (London Citizens) shows that people want to be involved and make change happen. Existing institutions – from charities to companies as well as political parties – that don’t provide meaningful ways for us to participate are destined to fade away.
Guerilla Manifesto is our own contribution to finding new ways to do politics. You can read policy proposals posted by other users, organised under eight categories (which reflect the themes you find in traditional manifestos), and then vote on them using three simple ratings (overall, impact and value for money). To vote, you have to register as a user. The most popular proposals will form the alternative manifesto in 2015.
So, head over to Guerilla Manifesto, and we look forward to reading your ideas, and also hearing your thoughts and suggestions about the site. As a new site, there will be glitches and bugs which we’ll find and fix, but we hope you find it an interesting approach to creating debate and stimulating new ideas.
You can also follow Guerilla Policy on Twitter @guerillapolicy
In addition, we also have a sister site called Guerilla Feed, which is a ‘wire’ service where you can read the latest frontline and independent blogs and see which blogs are the most popular reads (you can also follow Guerilla Feed on Twitter @guerillafeed).