Minor political parties have always fascinated me. Partly because I can really understand why someone would want to strike out on their own and try to push their agenda on a national level. And partly because I really don’t understand the motivation. Why invest time and effort standing for an election when your chances of making an impact are so small?
In the UK, there have been a few successful new parties. The Greens and UKIP come to mind. But for every party that wins a good number of representatives, there’s hundreds that never do. According to the Electoral Commission, 28 new parties have been registered this year alone. Most of them haven’t even got websites!
I thought it would be interesting to look at some of those parties. Admittedly, many are local interest groups and some are racist. But here’s a selection of the groups that have decided to change the world this year:
Equal and Just Society Party
In the time I’ve been writing this, the EJSP have put out a webpage, but most of their policies are still only available in a manifesto they boast is “87,000 words long”. Only a few examples of policies are available online. It seems that a big focus is putting Cameron and Tony Blair on trial.
Internet Democrats/YOURvoice/Democratic Reform Party
The Internet Democrats don’t have a webpage yet, but they do have a crowd-funding page. They’ll launch a website if they make £5000 by April 4th. So far, they’re nowhere near. But, if you’re interested they have a blog! Their goal seems to be a sort of direct democracy: party members will have access to a website where they can instantly vote on candidates, set priorities, work out policy, etc.
The Democratic Reform Party has similar goals, but envisions people taking part in debates in a parliamentary way to develop policies. It has to be said, they already have a rather nice site.
YOURvoice is trying to achieve the same sort of thing, though rather than voting on party policies, they plan to allow people to vote on every decision their elected representatives make.
I find it interesting that all these parties have similar visions, and they don’t seem to be politically opposed to each other. They all see a problem that politics isn’t democratic enough, and see a solution in technology. It’s like they’re approaching politics as an engineering problem to solve, which is interesting to me because engineering problems get solved. One day, one of these parties could make a breakthrough. The problem is, in politics people often disagree on what the problem is, exactly.
Do you want to vote for a party that mentions Tesla and Buckminster Fuller on their homepage? Of course you do! This party wants to replace current agriculture with permaculture, the pharmaceutical industry with alternative medicine, and the oil industry with free energy.
Interestingly, the free energy they’re talking about isn’t renewable energy, they seem to be mostly interested in emergent technologies that mainstream science has ignored, such as “Rodin Drives“. As a rule, these technologies are ones that give out more power than is put in. To an outsider, this seems suspiciously like suggesting we invest in perpetual motion machines.
I find their claims on energy difficult to believe, personally. But I enjoy the consistency in them looking for “alternative” solutions to every problem they touch on. At present, free energy that will confuse most people. But as fuel prices continue to go up, I wonder if people take more of an interest in this kind of thing.
One problem with parties is that as people only vote for them if they believe they’re electable, parties always have to talk up their chances of doing well. So it’s hard to tell how far these parties really think they’ll get.
For many new parties, local politics is a proving ground. But it’s a tough game. It can be genuinely vicious, and it’s one where the ability to talk intelligently about pot-holes counts for a lot more than high minded principles. Can these parties translate their ideals into that day-to-day level?
I must admit, I’d love to see them have a chance.