Manifesto


#1

Hey all

Further to a question I fired over on twitter, I was interested in why the party manifesto and the open politics project were separate entities. To me, it feels like this shows a lack of ownership for the party. Whilst I can completely see the point of it in terms of open-ness and transparency it does feel like the Party is borrowing/outsourcing the manifesto rather than having it as something to hang the beliefs and to underpin the thrust of the Party.

Interested in thoughts on this.
Regards

Cole


#2

Thanks for opening up this question @cole007. I was considering revisiting it anyway.

The party and manifesto projects are extremely interrelated - the major contributors are members of both. The manifesto started first, before the party, and we’ve never fully merged them. We do talk about this repeatedly, but it’s right that we should keep checking ourselves on it, because it’s one of the strangest things about us.

I think that the current situation could be used as a way of showing that we are serious about open collaboration and sharing - so much so that our core manifesto isn’t owned by the party, but is built by “you”. However, I agree that that’s really odd.

It’s also not simple for people coming to us; the manifesto lives in two places, and when you edit it, you end up on the neutral project, not the Something New site. It’s confusing.

I’d suggest that it’s worth revisiting this idea now, because we’ve recently made the openpolitics platform reusable for other projects. That means that the neutral openpolitics space has something to offer (in terms of the system), and the manifesto could be taken over by Something New. That would benefit both projects. Something New would “own” it’s manifesto (or at least the process behind it), and the OpenPolitics project would not have a partisan manifesto as its core output, making it easier for other people to adopt it.

The purity of the separation is really interesting, but I do think it hurts us in terms of explaining our message, and in terms of splitting the branding (which, after all, is what the party exists for).

I know @philipjohn will have thoughts on this - it usually comes down to a debate between us two :slight_smile:


#3

Yeah, this is my fault :wink:

In my mind, the Manifesto is the most important thing. As a project it has to outlive the politics of any one person or group of people. So to absorb it into Something New would mean that is success is tied to the success of Something New.

Something New is also, to me, the self-deprecating party. We shouldn’t need to exist, but we have to in order to push forward the Open Politics Manifesto. So the manifesto has to live beyond the party for that reason too.

There’s also a lot more potential beyond Something New. There are numerous small progressive parties (e.g. Pirate Party, NHA, Women’s Equality, Whigs etc) who we have a lot in common with. They’re unlikely to be keen on merging, especially as we think we have the better name :wink: but many (especially Pirates) are likely to be receptive to the open manifesto. See can more easily, I think, get them (or independents!) to contribute to, and adopt, the Open Politics Manifesto. That may well lead to mergers (my preference eventually) but I think the Manifesto is a necessary first step for these partnerships.


#4

This isn’t adding much to the discussion here, but It’s occured to me that we could actually run a Something New branded votebot alongside the openpolitics one, to keep people in the party brand space… should work fine.


#5

More thoughts:

I’m unsure if we would have any luck getting existing parties to adopt the manifesto wholesale; most people starting a party would have some idea in mind of what their core manifesto is, already. I think it’s much more likely that we could get others to adopt the method, if not the output.

As the manifesto is (and will always remain) creative commons licensed, it could always go back into a more neutral space if Something New abandons it, or folds.

Either way we really need to get the messaging on this right, and test it out with real people. It’s been so long since I’ve looked at the Something New site as a whole that I don’t really know how we communicate it at the moment, other than “badly”.


#6

Thanks for the feedback and thoughts both.

For me, I think it is (at present) really confusing. As somebody (re)visiting the site for the first time in a while and interested in Something New as a political party it feels like there is a split identity here.

With the manifesto itself in Creative Commons and also on Github (therefore able to be forked by anyone who is interested in the ideas or aspiration) I think it would be worth unifying the two into a single identity.

</tuppence>


#7

Maybe the trick will be to retain the independence, but not make it seem like a split. Fresh eyes on this are always useful, Cole, thank you. Anyone else with opinions, please share them!


#8

Don’t really want this to affect any choices but I’m looking to pick off bits (can I do that?) for Rebooting Democracy. Inherently the RD model is different but I do need to have some base policies to start the ball rolling (-: I will try and submit some policies at some point.


#9

It’s CC0 so yes, you can :slight_smile:


#10

Yeah, this is my fault :wink:

It seems I’ve found the culprit. Hi there! :smiley:

In my mind, the Manifesto is the most important thing. As a project it has to outlive the politics of any one person or group of people. So to absorb it into Something New would mean that is success is tied to the success of Something New.

@Floppy as he’s known on here directed me to this thread. I have some rather strong opinions on the matter. The way I look at it, you can keep the two seperate yet connected and absorb the method. You fork the policy base, but keep the other site open, and explicitly state that the party is using the idea, this way, you protect the policy from other parties and trolls who might not even know what Something New is, since you don’t have to expose yourself to our core principles on the Open Politics site, and you keep the project open without linking its success or limiting it by being used within Something New.

Something New is also, to me, the self-deprecating party. We shouldn’t need to exist, but we have to in order to push forward the Open Politics Manifesto. So the manifesto has to live beyond the party for that reason too.

Arguably, you also need to push policy, you can’t win elections based on that and if you don’t want to push policy then there no point being a party with candidates, you might as well be a pressure group.

There’s also a lot more potential beyond Something New. There are numerous small progressive parties (e.g. Pirate Party, NHA, Women’s Equality, Whigs etc) who we have a lot in common with. They’re unlikely to be keen on merging, especially as we think we have the better name :wink: but many (especially Pirates) are likely to be receptive to the open manifesto. See can more easily, I think, get them (or independents!) to contribute to, and adopt, the Open Politics Manifesto. That may well lead to mergers (my preference eventually) but I think the Manifesto is a necessary first step for these partnerships.

This party shouldn’t exist just to be merged with others, it should stand on its own as a shining example of where direct policy contributions and open politics gets you, not as the subordinate to however many other parties happen to want to use the manifesto.

It’s also misleading to contributors to have your manifesto be shared outside of the party’s control without it being explicitly stated, or at least not obvious. I myself felt misled when I found out. Parties exist as the vessels of policy, as a means to express your political beliefs in the current system of governance, not as advertising stunts for a methodology. It’s a damn good methodology I’ll give you that, but I can only name 2 parties that I truly want to vote for: Something New, and the UK Pirate Party, which I’m currently a paying member of. If you want this party to be a pet project for a method then fine, but I don’t, and I’d be truly disappointed to scratch Something New of the list if that’s all this party has ambition for. I know @Floppy wants, or at least is comfortable with, having Something New separate for the purposes of protecting the actual and potential voter base, but as he’s said, this party is a democracy, not a dictatorship.


#11

You fork the policy base, but keep the other site open

In practice, would that mean having two sets of manifestos? I imagine anything we have in the SN manifesto we’d want to send back into the OP Manifesto. I can see two issues with that approach;

  • Different contributors will have different feedback, leading to an efficient yo-yo-ing of policies. For example, a policy is proposed and accepted for the SN manifesto. It’s proposed for the OP manifesto, and some feedback leads to changes. Those changes now need to be proposed for the SN manifesto which may also lead to feedback/changes. It’s more efficient to have everyone contribute to the same project instead of splitting effort.
  • The two diverge. I think it’s actually pretty likely that having two will lead to them diverging. Contributors in that scenario are unlikely to want to make double the effort to maintain both, so they’ll focus on one. The manifesto, and party, are more likely to succeed together rather than apart.

keep the project open without linking its success or limiting it by being used within Something New.

Could you expand on this? Do you think that the manifesto project is limited by association with Something New?

Arguably, you also need to push policy

Could you elaborate on what you mean by “push policy” please? In my mind, the party is pushing policy created by the manifesto, while the manifesto project focuses on creating policy. You might call it a separation of powers :grin:

This party shouldn’t exist just to be merged with others

It doesn’t at all - no-one is suggesting that. If we’re going to be successful we have to bring the other small progressive parties together.

It’s also misleading to contributors to have your manifesto be shared outside of the party’s control without it being explicitly stated, or at least not obvious.

It could be clearer, but I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s misleading.

Parties exist as the vessels of policy, as a means to express your political beliefs in the current system of governance

Existing parties in the current system. We are something new.

If you want this party to be a pet project for a method then fine

I think that’s an unfair thing to say. This is no pet project. The effort we made in the last general election alone shows how serious we are, and I think it devalues the effort everyone put in to refer to it as a pet project.


#12

You fork the policy base, but keep the other site open

In practice, would that mean having two sets of manifestos?

Yeah

I imagine anything we have in the SN manifesto we’d want to send back into the OP Manifesto.

I fail to see why you’d want this. The stated goal of the OP Manifesto is to be adopted by lots of parties, so conflict resolution there would be a pain, and Something New is a political party, the core idea of which is to build policy around its principles (because that’s what a party does, and for good reason), whereas Open Politics not a political party, and explicitly non partisan; thus, sending partisan policy over to an apparently non partisan project intended for use by multiple parties which has no stated values makes no sense whatsoever, and what you’re currently doing makes even less sense because they are currently synchronised, meaning people who don’t even know the stated values of the party are contributing a party document. I’m literally unable to explain the issue in a clearer fashion.

I can see two issues with that approach;

Different contributors will have different feedback, leading to an efficient yo-yo-ing of policies. For example, a policy is proposed and accepted for the SN manifesto. It’s proposed for the OP manifesto, and some feedback leads to changes. Those changes now need to be proposed for the SN manifesto which may also lead to feedback/changes. It’s more efficient to have everyone contribute to the same project instead of splitting effort.

Yeah the idea was splitting the projects so that it makes sense, rather than the system you have now, which makes absolutely no sense.

The two diverge. I think it’s actually pretty likely that having two will lead to them diverging. Contributors in that scenario are unlikely to want to make double the effort to maintain both, so they’ll focus on one. The manifesto, and party, are more likely to succeed together rather than apart.

My entire point is that a non partisan manifesto should be just that, and thus, these 2 projects diverging would be a good thing. Open Politics is non partisan and thus does not state, and shouldn’t have, any principles that it is based around other than open politics. Something New is a political party, and is thus obviously politically partisan, allowing its membership/voters/supporters to tailor policy to suit it’s membership/voters/supporters as per the party principles. By virtue of what they are these two don’t go together. So far it seems, if you’ll allow me to analogise, you’ve taken a cone, shoved it in a square hole, and pushed, so far everything is going fine, but it will eventually get stuck, and then the cone (in the analogy, this party) is screwed because you’ve shoved it in the square hole of sharing your manifesto with several other parties (not yet, but that’s the goal, hence why I said the cone would get stuck)

keep the project open without linking its success or limiting it by being used within Something New.

Could you expand on this? Do you think that the manifesto project is limited by association with Something New?

No, I don’t funnily enough, that was something you said that I was trying to comfort you on since my proposal wouldn’t limit it, and that was an issue you brought up (if you care to scroll up to your previous post you’ll see what I mean). If anything, I think Something New is limited by the merged manifesto, as I’ve previously explained the issues with the current setup.

Arguably, you also need to push policy

Could you elaborate on what you mean by “push policy” please? In my mind, the party is pushing policy created by the manifesto, while the manifesto project focuses on creating policy. You might call it a separation of powers :grin:

I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. If you care to contextualise that statement, it was in response to 3 sentences of yours in which you said that “We shouldn’t need to exist, but we have to in order to push forward the Open Politics Manifesto.”, which I disagreed with because I view the party as pushing both, since one is the method, and one is the result of the method, in practice the policy is more important since it gains votes and funding, but I digress.

This party shouldn’t exist just to be merged with others

It doesn’t at all - no-one is suggesting that. If we’re going to be successful we have to bring the other small progressive parties together.

Either you’re lying or you’re oblivious to the contradiction. Allow me to quote you: “That may well lead to mergers (my preference eventually)” which was the passage I was responding to and have objection to. Given my lengths to contextualise my responses I’m surprised you didn’t realise this.

Regardless, this party clearly isn’t progressive, I’d call it centre left. Also, and I don’t mean to add another word to the dead word pile, the word progressive throws up red flags for anyone who’s ever endured a video of “The Young Turks” youtube channel or heard of Gamergate even vaguely, so I wouldn’t use it around non-left-wing company since quite a lot of people view “progressive politics” as regressive. Not only that but it casts generalisations about the support base, and I for one, do not consider myself a progressive.

Given the intent of your original statement that I’d previously responded to, I’d like to point out that the UK Pirate Party don’t consider themselves progressive and afaik they never have, they’re centrist.

It’s also misleading to contributors to have your manifesto be shared outside of the party’s control without it being explicitly stated, or at least not obvious.

It could be clearer, but I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s misleading.

It’s misleading because 1) I felt misled when I found out 2) It took me 2 days to figure it out 3) It’s not explicit and 4) it’s not even obvious. I consider it perfectly appropriate to call it misleading, you can call it whatever you like.

Parties exist as the vessels of policy, as a means to express your political beliefs in the current system of governance

Existing parties in the current system. We are something new.

That means absolutely nothing. You either are a party or you aren’t. If you don’t let voters express their beliefs then you shouldn’t be putting up councillors and MPs for election and if you do then you’re a vessel for policy. If by some wizardy you’ve escaped this bounds, what exactly do you have to offer voters if not the policy they voted for?

If you want this party to be a pet project for a method then fine

I think that’s an unfair thing to say. This is no pet project. The effort we made in the last general election alone shows how serious we are, and I think it devalues the effort everyone put in to refer to it as a pet project.

It was a statement on how I feel and think and genuinely believe you are approaching the working of this party, as a newcomer mysef who’s been into politics for years, when I’m still trying to figure out your reasoning re: the manifesto set up (and by that I mean the 2 manifesto’s linking, not the open policy editing, I have no objection to open policy editing). It’s a fundamental misinterpretation of my point and I refuse to respond to it as if that’s what I actually meant.


#13

Open Politics not a political party, and explicitly non partisan

Of course it’s partisan, a manifesto is a statement of political intent in the furtherance of a cause. The OPM is furthering the cause of openness in politics and, as @Floppy says; open is a political statement.

If you don’t let voters express their beliefs then you shouldn’t be putting up councillors and MPs for election

I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Are you saying we aren’t letting voters express themselves?


#14

Just a note @Autumn_Sec, please try not to be too abrasive; phrases like “lying” and “oblivious”, to pick a few, aren’t constructive. We do want your input, but please remember that everyone here has positive intent, and we’re trying to work this out together for the best outcome for everyone.

To respond to some of the statements here (and thankyou, this is helpful in that some of these will make it onto the FAQ page when I get it written):

  • The OpenPolitics manifesto itself is inherently non-neutral; by that I mean it’s a single way of looking at the world not the one answer for everyone. It’s not partisan in that it’s not necessarily tied to a single old-style party, but it’s certainly not neutral. The tool and workflow behind it is neutral - someone else could pick that up and make something totally different. We’re trying to clarify that as well at the moment.

  • Something New does exist as a vessel of policy, absolutely, and that policy is contained in the manifesto, and in our core principles. We don’t see the fact that those policies can change as a problem; in fact we’re open about it, unlike other parties. All manifestos change, ours just does so on a continuous, living basis.

  • We consider ourselves broadly progressive in the common usage of the word in our own cirlces, not in a strict “political progressivism” sense. All political words are confusing and have mulitple meanings, but the principles should make it clear what we stand for. Perhaps we mean progressive in analogy to progressive taxation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_tax. Working out the right words to use is a continual battle. :slight_smile:

  • We actively want to work with other parties. The UK political system does not reward small parties, and so to effect change mergers and alliances will be necessary. Let me be explicit here: I do not care whose party name is on the change; I do not care who is in charge. I have no need to be the one personally who fixes everything. This is part of a movement towards an open democracy, and individual parties, names etc, are irrelevant in that except as marketing and a part of exploring what works and what doesn’t while we feel our way towards the future. Something New does not want to have to exist in the future, but for now, we have a job to do and will do our best to do it until we become convinced of a better way.

  • This is definitely not a “pet project” that we do for fun. If I didn’t think this really needed doing, I’d be catching up on my rather large Steam backlog, and reading the pile of books I’ve not had time for in 4 years. We’re here because we believe things are broken, and need to change, and this is our way of attempting to something constructive towards that change.

I will try my best to distil some of this into better explanations on the website…


#15

If you don’t let voters express their beliefs then you shouldn’t be putting up councillors and MPs for election

I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Are you saying we aren’t letting voters express themselves?

If you don’t spit the manifesto, then in my current view, in some ways, yes. If you keep the two manifesto sites synchronised, then you won’t necessarily be forming the open manifesto around the core principles of Something New since, as I’ve previously stated, you aren’t exposed to the principles on the Open Politics site. By the very nature of allowing that you’d betray the voters and supporters of Something New, because the principles on which the party is built on, the principles that they respected enough to join because of, wouldn’t be followed.

Now, unless you’re convinced of my point, why do you think that the manifestos should stay joined? What is there to gain from it (other than promoting the manifesto, which you can do whether it’s split or not)?


#16

We actively want to work with other parties.

That is an admirable pursuit.

The UK political system does not reward small parties, and so to effect change mergers and alliances will be necessary.

I don’t view this as entirely necessary, UKIP managed it, but though I object to mergers, which I will expand on in a bit, I’ll reserve judgement for alliances on a case by case basis.

Let me be explicit here: I do not care whose party name is on the change; I do not care who is in charge. I have no need to be the one personally who fixes everything. This is part of a movement towards an open democracy, and individual parties, names etc, are irrelevant in that except as marketing and a part of exploring what works and what doesn’t while we feel our way towards the future. Something New does not want to have to exist in the future, but for now, we have a job to do and will do our best to do it until we become convinced of a better way.

Though I understand that doing everything yourself or as a party isn’t necessary or efficient (hence why I don’t object on principle to alliances), the majority of the time merging leads to a watering down of policy and principle for all involved, to form a big ball of policy, principle and ducktape whilst the people in the various parties try to frantically prevent it from coming unstuck and the voterbase leaves for someone more cohesive and principled that won’t betray their vote in the name of political hegemony. I will deal with it on a case by case basis but my initial position sits at dislike, rather than neutral fyi.

This is definitely not a “pet project” that we do for fun. If I didn’t think this really needed doing, I’d be catching up on my rather large Steam backlog, and reading the pile of books I’ve not had time for in 4 years. We’re here because we believe things are broken, and need to change, and this is our way of attempting to something constructive towards that change.

I wasn’t saying the party was a pet project, it was a not entirely serious remark regarding how I felt at the time that the Open Politcs manifesto is being put ahead of party policy and principle. It wasn’t intended to diminish your dedication to the party, merely to comment on one of the results of that dedication or lackthereof, which wasn’t directed at you anyway, it was directed at @philipjohn.


#17

Ah - interesting! The principles of the two should be the same, and should plainly be so to the reader. However, you’ve obviously not had that demonstrated to your satisfaction, which means we need to do it better. Currently, the party principles are on the homepage at https://somethingnew.org.uk, and the core manifesto principles are at https://somethingnew.org.uk/manifesto/. Currently, there should not be any differences, other than things we’ve not got in both places by mistake, or which are presented differently. I’m going to run through them to compare and make sure they match - if they don’t right now, that’s wrong and we should rectify it.

This points to perhaps a trigger for a split in future should one be necessary:

  • Policies in the OpenPolitics manifesto are accepted on the basis (amongst other things) of their compatibility with the stated core principles.
  • If the manifesto principles are democratically changed to be incompatible with the Something New principles, then Something New will fork the manifesto and continue with a separate version.

We could state that as a definite red line; that might help clarify things.


#18

you won’t necessarily be forming the open manifesto around the core principles of Something New since, as I’ve previously stated, you aren’t exposed to the principles on the Open Politics site.

Something New was started by the same people that started and contribute to the OpenPolitics Manifesto. Both carry the same values and principles (or that is the intention). So long as Something New uses the OPM, the values of both are absolutely aligned. If the values ever diverged, there would have to be a split.

Now, unless you’re convinced of my point, why do you think that the manifestos should stay joined?

As I’ve said more than once, if you split them, one will die. Contributors will not invest double the amount of time to maintain two separate manifesto projects that both have the same values.

merging leads to a watering down of policy and principle for all involved, to form a big ball of policy, principle and ducktape

This is precisely why the OPM is better off independent. It is much more palatable for other parties to contribute to an independent project than a project owned by (what could be seen as) a rival party. It’s a potential stepping stone to more collaboration between parties that could lead to the kind of co-working or even merger that is necessary long term.


#19

I’ve written the FAQs page and tried to distil my thoughts from this conversation into it. See https://somethingnew.org.uk/faqs.html. It doesn’t cover everything here, but I think we’ve got some of it. I’ve tried to answer the main question in this thread, but I don’t know if I’ve done it well enough yet. Let me know what you think.