If you had the resources, what would you do? Okay, maybe you don't have the resources to achieve what you want to do, but perhaps you have the resources to enable you to get there: you can't fix climate change, but you can create a viable plan to fix it. So, given the resources, what would you do? I would start a new political party.
Why a political party? Because we need to make significant social changes, which requires significant political change, and that will not happen unless we restore faith in the political system. In short, we need to change the political system, so we need a political party to do it. Let's be clear: starting a political party is not something I actually want to do, but I suspect it is needed. Consider this a thought experiment: what needs to happen?
The current system cannot make the changes which are required, because it is designed to protect the interests of the rich and powerful. The current parties cannot introduce the changes which are required because they are stuck with systems and traditions which either prevent deep change or make it impossible to achieve.
- The Conservatives exist to protect the status quo, so they don't want radical change.
- Labour are bogged down with internal fights and ideological disputes, and their commitment to group solidarity means they cannot even attempt radical change.
- The Lib Dems are rendered impotent by their commitment to democracy.
- The Greens are a collection of special interest groups which would disintegrate if they ever achieved power.
These parties, and the people in them, are not bad. They are full of good people trying to do good things. But the systems they are working within were never designed to deliver the changes that we need. And it is much more complicated than a left-right-middle battle for control ( see Politics: Some Underlying Issues). So we need another party.
Let's begin with three core principles.
- Get power
- Do good
- Act ethically
This new party needs to be organized very carefully. Here are a few initial ideas.
- Radical transparency. Power corrupts, and the only effective antiseptic is sunlight.
- Privacy must be in inverse proportion to power: the more power you have, the more your actions need to be scrutinized.
- Keep governance and management distinct. Democracy is a great way to determine what you want to achieve, and a dreadful way to make anything happen. Governance (setting the targets) and management (planning how to hit them) need to be in dialogue: neither is of any use unless the other is functioning well.
- Politics is all about compromise: it's the art of the possible. So do the best with what you have got, and move on to the next thing you can do.
- Binary choices are beautiful in the abstract, but generally destructive in the real world.
- Global problems require global responses. If we don't cooperate, we are dead.
It seems to me that we need to think mainly about organizational details, rather than policies. Policies are needed, of course, but stick a bunch of people together, give them a problem, and they are likely to come up with some kind of response. I have done no research on this at all, but I get the impression that most political parties are started by people who have a Good Idea and want to push it. The structures - most importantly, the decision making process - are simply a way to get the Good Idea implemented.
But the structures and decision making process determine what is possible - which is why electoral reform is so important. As a country, we cannot implement the changes which are needed, because our national structures are not designed to make those changes possible. The same constraint applies to political parties: they can only do what their structures enable - allow - them to do. So the key issue, when considering a new political party, is how it should operate.
As I see it, most of the principles behind this community / website should work in the context of a political party. The key difference is that once all the different ideas have been expressed, we as a community are happy for exerybody to head off and follow their own priorities, but a political party must come to a decision about the main priorities. Of course, not all the members of the party will entirely agree on those priorities - as we have noted, politics is all about compromise. But the hope will be that, for the members, such compromises will be smaller and easier to make, than the compromises which woudl be needed if they belonged to another poltical party. We don't have to be perfect, we only need to be better than the alternatives - and be ready to change and learn.
You can find some more detail about this idea in 'Starting to Unpack the Plan'.