A sketched picture of James' head

James Smith

Building a better future out of code

What's Next For Something New?

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Context for new readers: I formed a party called Something New and stood in the 2015 general election in Horsham. We're a party based on open source principles, and do all our policymaking openly online through the OpenPolitics Manifesto.

The general election is over, and I have to say I really enjoyed the experience. It was hard work, but it felt so good to be putting across something positive rather than just complaining about the various options. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a campaign indulge in such negativity and fearmongering as this one did, so it was a real pleasure to be able to rise above it!

The results

Our full results are on the Something New site, but in the General Election, we got 375 votes in Horsham, and 320 in South West Surrey. That’s 0.66% and 0.56% respectively.

That may not sound like a lot, but when compared to other small parties and independents, we did great! We’ve tallied a list of other candidates standing on future-democracy type platforms, and both our results come right up near the top. Doing that in our first election, in very (small c and big C) conservative areas, is something to be proud of.

I think that shows that we have something here worth building on, and so I’d like to answer the one question that everyone asks:

What’s next?

We’re starting to think about the 2016 round of elections, and we have a by-election in Stepney Green in a few weeks, but as leader, I’m thinking mostly about how the party evolves.

The party exists because in the current political climate, names are important, and a strong name and brand can help cement your values in the minds of voters. I was originally going to stand as an independent, but always wanted it to be a party, because that means we can build something up into a movement. I love independent candidates; I wish every MP was an independent, but I don’t think our system is ready to accept that yet. I think we have to work within the system to change it. Ideally I’d like parties not to exist either, which I think makes Something New the only party that wants to deprecate itself.

The same goes for small parties. The job of changing the country is huge, much too big for any of us alone. We have to work together.

After the industrial revolution, the labour movement came together to find its political voice, which has dominated British politics ever since. The network revolution will be the same. Our generation, which is more interconnected than humanity has ever been, will find its political movement. People are calling for it all over the place. The politics of the network is rising.

Let’s work together

Now I’m talking directly to the Pirate Party, the Internet Democrats, Rebooting Democracy, Digital Democracy, the Whig Party, MyMP, Populace Party, Vox Pop, Democratic Reform, a whole load of Independents, and everyone else interested in this movement.

My message for you is simple.

Let’s join together to build a single movement, a broad 21st century progressive political party with the network at its heart, that can push for a better future. Let’s merge our communities to build something big enough to change the UK for the better.

Let me be clear; I don’t care what that party is called (as long as it resonates with voters). I don’t care who is in charge. This is not a power grab. It’s an honest attempt to build something that can have an impact.

We can talk about names, logos, technology, all that, later. But if we agree on our values and what we want to build, let’s join together and get to work.

What about Something New?

That said, I do have something to humbly add.

I believe that Something New’s results show that the message we have put across is worth pursuing..

We tested our message and brand in a very non-progressive area, with almost no money, minimal help, and no major media exposure, and it worked. We got better results than almost all of our allied candidates and friends. I don’t say this to boast, or try to score points. I say this because I think it might help.

We set out on this path to test if the message would resonate. I think we passed that test.

So, as a starting point, I would like to invite all those parties to merge with us. Again, not so that I can be in charge, or through arrogance, but because someone has to convene this, and I think we are in a good position to do so. As I said, we can talk about names, logos, identity, whatever. I’m open-minded on it, and we know we can’t be “Something New” forever.

Single-issue parties won’t change anything. Small fragmented parties won’t change anything. The old 20th century parties won’t change anything. But together, we just might be able to build a new choice for a society that is demanding change.


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