A sketched picture of James' head

James Smith

Building a better future out of code

It's Time To Step Up

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I find the current state of politics in the UK incredibly depressing.

Unsurprisingly, I find myself disagreeing with most of what the Conservative party is doing in government, and in particular with the narrative they are using to justify it. The Liberal Democrats may claim they have moderated the worst excesses of the Conservatives, but have still allowed the near-privatisation of the NHS, and failed utterly to do anything with the concessions they got in the coalition agreement on things like electoral reform.

On the opposition side… well, what opposition? I personally like Ed, but it’s obvious the media have their teeth into him and will never let him have a proper voice. Worst of all, the Labour Party are buying into the aforementioned narrative of “this is what needs to be done”. They don’t challenge the demonisation of the poor, while entrenched power runs off with the money that’s being stripped from our welfare state.

Protest votes are heading to the charismatic far right, with the Old Tory caricatures that are UKIP grabbing all the headlines and dragging the entire country down a path that we really shouldn’t be considering. The other minor parties are next to useless. The Greens, really the party I agree with most, will always be mired in 1970’s style environmentalism, which nobody will ever vote for en masse.

All this adds up to an uncomfortable truth. Nobody in the public sphere in this country is speaking for me. The narrative is about how the past was better, and the present is broken. The people in power seem to lust after the old days of empire, rather than working out how to take us into a bright shiny future.

The problem is; the future isn’t stopping. It will change every single institution we have, and we should be getting excited about that fact and making sure it works for us. That’s what I dedicate my life to, to making sure the future is a better place for everyone, but nobody in power seems to want to take us there.

I’ve written before about a kind of shared philosophy amongst the open society community, but I stopped short of some of the more controversial areas of politics. I think it’s time for us to stop doing that. There is an unspoken tradition in our community of trying to be beyond political statements, to fix things from the outside, but the way GDS are reforming the civil service (which I will give the Conservatives credit for, or at least some of them) has reminded me that in order to truly change the system, you sometimes have to become the system.

There’s a general election coming in a couple of years. Those of us who are looking to the future should have our hands in the game. It’s time for our community to grow up, take responsibility, and stop leaving the debate to the relics. We have the tools and the skills to do this, and a lot of allies. We’re already changing the world from behind the scenes; it’s time to start leading from the front as well.

If someone is already doing something about this, I want to know who. If not, we should get started by setting up a GitHub repository, and get collaborating on policy for a brighter future.


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