30 December 2009

The Wisdom of the Conservatives

I don't have much time for either of the main UK political parties (or many of the others, come to that), but I must give some kudos to the Tories for latching onto an ironic weakness of Labour: its authoritarian hatred of openness. And here the former are at it again, showing the UK government how it should be done:

The Conservatives are today announcing a competition, with a £1million prize, for the best new technology platform that helps people come together to solve the problems that matter to them – whether that’s tackling government waste, designing a local planning strategy, finding the best school or avoiding roadworks.

This online platform will then be used by a future Conservative government to throw open the policy making process to the public, and harness the wisdom of the crowd so that the public can collaborate to improve government policy. For example, a Conservative government would publish all government Green Papers on this platform, so that everyone can have their say on government policies, and feed in their ideas to make them better.

This is in addition to our existing radical commitment to introduce a Public Reading Stage for legislation so that the public can comment on draft bills, and highlight drafting errors or potential improvements.

That said, the following is a bit cheeky:

Harnessing the wisdom of the crowd in this way is a fundamentally Conservative approach, based on the insight that using dispersed information, such as that contained within a market, often leads to better outcomes than centralised and closed systems.

Tories as bastions of the bottom-up approach? Stalin would have been proud of that bit of historical revisionism.

The only remaining question (other than whether the Conservatives will win the forthcoming UK General Election) is whether the software thus produced will be released under an open source licence. I presume so, since this would also be "a fundamentally Conservative approach"....

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.


Unknown said...

Maggie Thatcher and Winston Churchill would be shocked. Shocked I tell you.

Now if we could just get them to convince the Conservative Party of Canada to try the same thing...

Dan said...

The Conservatives like to take credit for ideas from libertarianism when it suits them, while bashing and opposing libertarians in other instances.