Voting…There’s an app for that…Actually there isn’t, and why not?
…If you go to business conferences you’ll probably be asked to download an app that will enable you to vote on issues being discussed by the speakers, in real time…Audience feedback apps. There’s plenty on the market, it’s simple stuff, no big deal.
Why then, in the name of Brexit, does no such thing exist for political purposes?
Why can we not have an app, on our phones, that enables us to vote on important issues of the time? Why can we not express our preferences in this way? We could actually have opinion polls on Brexit, and other ongoing dramas, we could be given a truly democratic ability to choose between policies of the political parties.
There’s plenty of reasons why this hasn’t been done yet, mainly the fact that the existing parties aren’t going to disrupt themselves, an app based party requires a fairly serious development team, and no one has yet come forward with the willingness to provide a voice for the people rather than for themselves or their pre-existing agenda. But if we put that aside for a moment, a political party that was app based, and formed policies based on the preferences of the actual users, the voters, the people, could disrupt the existing political parties in a magnificently ironic and effective way.
Just as app banks are replacing high street banks, an app based political party could replace the old school. I predict it one day will. There’s a phrase, SaaS, Software as a Service. Imagine PaaS, Politics as a Service. The actual policies could be suggested by and chosen by ‘we the people’. The popularity could be gauged, and policies amended. Should we have a tax to fund the NHS? Let’s vote. Should we throw a few rockets into the melee in Syria? Swipe right for yes. Should we reduce Police on the beat by 25% then wonder why crime increases? Swipe accordingly. The current system is antiquated, driven by personalities and biased media coverage.
No wonder people are cynical of politics, it deserves a healthy cynicism, it’s opaque, conspiratorial by design, and in a digital age, it’s frankly ripe for total disruption. Vince Cable, a usually invisible man, suddenly materialised the other week to talk about the requirement of a ‘movement’ of sorts. Perhaps he could use a bowl of prunes, or perhaps what he means is something like I’m describing here. A technological platform to replace an analogue system. A digital way to make choices of policy. A political party with ideas provided by millions of citizens.
A totally new way of determining what people actually want, in terms of political activity. An app based political party that enables users to collectively sculpt policies and manifestos. Let’s call it Apparty. An app based political party that generates policies based on the preferences of the people. Simples. The first thing it does is ask questions and listen to the users and create a manifesto from their multiple choices. Then it refines those preferences into actual policies and asks users to approve them. When it comes to local and national representatives, there’s the functionality for users to become a candidate.
A bit like Tinder, if you want to represent the Apparty in your constituency you simply create a profile, and let the users decide by voting within the system for their candidates of choice to stand as MPs. All this is easily doable, in terms of technology. And remember, the candidates aren’t standing to forward their own agendas, they are representing the manifesto and policies of the Apparty, which are democratically sourced from the Members. When it comes to actual elections, these of course will be held in the old fashioned way, and the app can encourage and remind the users to go out and vote for their Apparty selected candidates.
As a sketch of a reimagined way of doing politics, I really don’t see much wrong with it. It’s a reinvention entirely in keeping with our age. I’d join the Apparty. Wouldn’t you?