Posts Tagged ‘ democracy ’

We live in interesting times: the world’s first cyber/information war is on


Now this is exciting and different – a war with (as yet) no blood spilt. Everyone should read this article in the Guardian today if they want a clue as to how the world is turning in the twenty-first century. To anyone who was in any doubt that the events depicted in William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash could ever happen, think again. The collaborative online events sparked by the Wikileaks/US cables controversy read like science fiction and as yet the trajectory of these happenings remains unclear and —unfortunately for those who would silence the leaks— uncontrollable.

Who to vote for in the UK 2010 election


With both the main parties becoming ever more centrist and populist, it’s understandably quite hard to choose who to vote for, particularly if you’ve never voted before or, like me, never paid politics much attention because you find it boring and regard voting as a waste of time because it makes little difference anyway (in other words, no matter who you vote for, the lower & working classes get screwed. This is certainly not relevant to everyone or even everyone I know, but it is relevant to me).

Or so I though until recently. But think: if everyone who thought that their vote makes no difference) or that we are powerless in the face of governmental control) voted, then it is likely that a difference could in fact be made. Just as if all the people who would vote Liberal Democrat if they stood a fart’s chance in hell actually voted Liberal, they may actually get in.

So what to do if you have no clue who to vote for because you think they’re all scheming corrupt bastards out for their own gain, but do want the right to be able to bitch about them for the next four years? The answer is this…

Take the survey on voteforpolicy.org.uk. This website presents you with the six policies of the six major parties (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, UK Independence Party, British National Party) that relate to nine areas (crime, democracy, economy, education, environment, Europe, immigration, health/NHS, welfare) without telling you which party you are actually selecting.

In theory this is great because it removes the temptation to:

  • not vote for Gordon Brown/Labour because of his negative press and because the ‘workers’ party’ hasn’t done much for us workers lately or because they are an ‘anti-intellectual’ party.
  • not vote for David Cameron/Conservatives because the Tories are an “old [rich] boys’ club” whose main position besides being pro- the middle and upper classes is opposing Labour regardless of their stance. Incidentally, ‘conserving’ is the opposite of ‘change’ and change is inevitable.
  • not know whether to vote for New Labour or New Conservatives because their policies are designed to be popular and win votes, not to fulfill the political ideology that a lot of people feel we should be voting for (and that were apparent in Old Labour and Old Conservative).
  • not vote for Nick Clegg/LibDems because they never get in anyway
  • not to vote for the Green Party because they’d save the country/planet at the cost of everything else, e.g. the economy.

The results of this survey can be very surprising, even if you think you know what your allegiances are.[Mine came up as 11.11% each for three parties and 22.22% each for the other three, leaving me to fall back on inexpert theories such as: I can’t vote Tory because they’re too backward, I can’t vote Labour because they made a pig’s ear of it this time etc…

Anyway, voteforpolicy.org has a running total of the votes on its home page, the results of which are below, if you’re interested. At the time of writing there were 128,302 completed surveys yielding the following results:

Parties
  1. Green Party     27.62%
  2. Lib Dems     18.01%
  3. Labour     17.42%
  4. Conservatives     16.45%
  5. UKIP     10.82%
  6. BNP     9.69%

Parties & Policies [top 3 of the current leaders only]

Crime: Green Party 31.89%, Conservatives 21.21%, BNP 16.73%

Democracy Lib Dems 28.21%, Green Party 27.78%, Labour 25.40%

Economy: Lib Dems 28.80%, Green Party 23.00%, Labour 16.52%

Education: Green Party 35.68%, Conservatives 24.53%, Lib Dems 17.63%

Environment: Green Party 33.91%, Lib Dems 18.27%, UKIP 14.44%

Europe: Labour 24.80%, Green Party 23.59%, Lib Dems 17.52%

Health / NHS: Green Party 27.12%, Labour 19.43%, BNP17.76%

Immigration: Labour 20.09%, Green Party 19.92%, Conservatives 18.74%

Welfare: Green Party 23.48%, Labour 19.78%, UKIP 16.17%

* The text is coloured here to enable at-a-glance summaries.

ID cards, privacy & hope for a UK Bill of Rights


The increase in surveillance of the British public has long been on the up, but a new state of the nation poll (reported in the Guardian) shows that the country has hit its tipping point.

One such aspect that has come under public scrutiny is the ID card. In July 2009, the home secretary, Alan Johnson, said the card were a ‘no brainer. They would allow easy travel between EU countries— passport free, only terrorists wouldn’t have them, and so on.

“The identity card is a safe, secure and simple way for people to protect and prove their identity and to travel around Europe but leave their passport at home,” he said. “Given the growing problem of ID fraud and the inconvenience of having to carry passports coupled with gas bills or six months worth of bank statements to prove identity, I believe the ID card will be welcomed as an important addition to the many plastic cards that most people already carry.”

And then a UK newspaper hired a hacker to test the ‘unhackable’ cards out. With a phone and a laptop, the card was hacked in minutes and cloned, with new information put on it. Not so fraud-resistant after all. Besides which, even if they were, it only takes one corrupt/breakable/bribable individual on the inside to screw the whole system. On the surface a good, all-inclusive, ‘no sensitive info‘, easy idea. On the inside, deeply flawed and unlikely to go down well in a country where trust in the government is at best tenuous.

The last state of the nation poll showed only 33% of people opposing ID cards. Now 53% perceive them to be a [very/]bad and 63% of people– up from 53% – worry about the government holding information on them.

The state of the nation poll shows the rights that the sample believed should be included in a Bill of Rights:

81% – the right to know what information government departments hold on you

79% – the right to privacy in your phone, mail and email communications

76% – the right to join a legal strike without losing your job

75% – the right to obtain information from government bodies about their activities

72% – and the right to free and peaceful assembly.

Which just goes to show that the UK still wants to be a free society.

This information was released by Power 2010, which asked the public to choose its top five priorities for political reform, the poll revealed that

80% agreed with the need for a bill of rights, 52% strongly.

The British public seems to be rejecting the idea of massive centralised power over which they have no control.

56% thought government power was too centralised, with

88% saying that local communities should have more say over decisions that affect them.

And that’s what democracy is all about… Right?

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