Something New for Politics?

(You can read about Something New on their website: http://www.somethingnew.org.uk/ )

Over the last couple of months, dramatic events have taken place that will change the face of British politics for a very long time. The Scottish Independence Referendum, Douglas Carswell’s defection and re-election as UKIP’s first elected MP and the beginning of the debate on English devolution. For the first time in a long time, it seems the majority of the British public is genuinely interested in politics.

This has also sparked an interest in minor parties. Famous minor parties include Respect Party, The Green Party, Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin. However, to the public’s surprise when the names appear on the ballot paper, other minor parties exist. Some other minor parties include Mebyon Kernow, National Health Action Party, Veritas and the Liberal Party. One more recent party, however, is Something New.

Not only is it something new, but Something New intends to contest at least two seats at the 2015 General Election. Founded in September 2013, but only recently revived in light of the 2015 General Election, Something New progresses with James Smith at it’s helm. James Smith, a developer for the UK Open Data Institute and an organiser for Cleanweb UK, intends to contest Horsham at the 2015 General Election. James has been a software developer for fifteen years, first receiving a PhD from the University of Surrey for his work on 3D graphics algorithms.

James Smith is joined by Paul Robinson, a Councillor on Godalming Town Council. Paul has been a Godalming Town Councillor since May 2011, and works as Director of Seedpod, a company selling organic plant seeds. He read History at King’s College London before taking on a commission with the Royal Navy. After leaving the Royal Navy in 2010, he took on a job at Charterhouse for three years until he started Seedpod with his wife. He sat on Godalming Town Council for the Conservative Party until the 1st October when he defected to Something New. Paul will be standing in South West Surrey for Something New in the 2015 General Election.

So what makes this new political party so great?

According the home page of their website, “Something New is a political party dedicated to a vision of a better future for everyone in the UK”. That’s a good start, and a good basis of every decision your party should make. If a decision or a policy does not benefit anyone, or make the future of Britain a better place to be, then why do it?

Reading on, Something New have six main values for government. They believe government should be Open, Democratic, Rational, Courageous, Ethical and Internationalist. If you put it all together, Something New believe that government should be transparent, be constantly evolving, should have policy based on sound evidence, be able to make long-term decisions, be dedicated to creating a sustainable society and deliver foreign policies that openly reflect our values. That’s a big ask.

But, one of the most fascinating and I may say, important aspects of Something New and the image they are presenting, is their manifesto. Something New are employing an entirely new technique for creating their manifesto, what they are calling an “open source” manifesto where any member of the public can contribute a policy, as long is it is in-line with Something New’s values.

Something New’s manifesto can be found at “http://openpolitics.org.uk/manifesto/”, but some already standing policies include a written British constitution, a “None of the Above” option and banning unelected Lords from taking roles in government to name just a few. The manifesto is, or at least they hope, revolutionary enough to attract people to have an interest in the new political party that hopes to makes some impact at the next election.

According to an article by Something New supporter Alexander Hilton on their website, “Our aim is to target people on the following basis.

People who are disillusioned with politics but who aren’t racists (10%)

People angered by the mainstream parties’ destruction of our individual liberties (5%)

Young people suffering from intergenerational discrimination and those who sympathise with them (20%)

People fed up waiting for Labour and the LibDems to deliver on their promises (15%)”

Alexander also says that Something New are completely open to political alliances with political parties that hold similar views, such as the National Health Action Party and the Green Party. Whether or not the Green Party, which already has an established name and one sitting MP, would ally themselves with this new party is another question. The National Health Action Party, however, seems a much more feasible option for Something New, one that may even produce an MP.

Alexander later goes on to say “We want to be so different that Russell Brand will tell people it’s worth voting for us.” My fear is that Something New will be too new to make any impact on the 2015 General Election. But fundamentally, I support what they are doing and hope that they defeat all the odds and actually make a mark on the upcoming General Election.

Further Reading

http://swsurrey.somethingnew.org.uk/ – Read about Something New in South West Surrey

http://horsham.somethingnew.org.uk/ – Read about Something New in Horsham

http://openpolitics.org.uk/ – Open Politics, an open source manifesto organised by James Smith

http://www.somethingnew.org.uk/offering_residents_in_godalming_central_and_ockford_something_new – Paul Robinson’s defection announcement

http://floppy.org.uk/blog/categories/election/ – James Smith’s blog about the run up to the 2015 General Election

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