Direct Digital Democracy – A Disaster?

by @edent | # # # # | 5 comments

While on the anti-Digital-Economy-Bill protest, I bumped into Denny de la Haye. I’ve known Denny virtually for a while – and he’s commented on this blog a number of times.

Denny is standing for parliament in Hackney South and Shoreditch. He is standing on a platform of Direct Digital Democracy.  If he is elected, he will run an online poll for his constituents.  Whichever way they vote, he votes.

Why This Is a Dumb Idea

  • The wisdom of the crowds relies on an informed crowd.  Asking people to guess the weight of a cow relies on them having some understanding of weight, density and – crucially – seeing the cow.
  • Who would vote against The PATRIOT Act?  Aren’t you a patriot?
  • The Sun lies to its readers – what if people are motivated by misinformation?
  • Will only extremists vote for certain bills?
  • Engagement.  Not everyone has access to a PC – those that do often don’t have access to their own PC.  Who wants their partner looking at their votes?

Finally, Denny says that

There are three exceptions; three types of law which I will always vote in favour of. I hope that you will agree with me on these three points:
* 1. I will always vote for laws which improve equality.
* 2. I will always vote for laws which improve civil liberties.
* 3. I will always vote for laws which improve our democracy.

I’m reminded of that old joke. A man asks a woman if she’ll sleep with him for a million pounds. She says yes. What about ten pounds? “What kind of woman do you take me for?” She says.
“I already know what sort of woman you are,” he says, “All we’re doing is haggling on the price!”

What other issues are so important that he’s willing to sacrifice the ideals of DDD? Which issues couldn’t be shoehorned into one of the above categories?

Besides, what if Denny’s constituents want to disenfranchise black lesbians and place them in labour camps? If voters can’t be trusted on those issues – how can they be trusted with tax, pensions, the Digital Economy Bill, etc?

Why I’m Supporting Him

While chatting with him, he mentioned that he was just £10 short of raising his deposit. So I gave him the tenner I had in my wallet.  Why?

Because I might be wrong.

I think that DDD is a flawed idea. But I don’t know. We need experiments within a democracy. We need to have our assumptions challenged.

I hope – I really hope – he gets in. I want to be proved wrong. I want to live in a world where single issue candidates can make a difference. Where experimental democracy thrives.

If you live in Hackney, Vote Denny

5 thoughts on “Direct Digital Democracy – A Disaster?

  1. Denny says:

    Thanks Terence… hopefully the least ringing endorsement my campaign will receive 🙂

    You’ve got a couple of things astray in here… it’s Hackney South and Shoreditch (not east), and the last line seems to have exposed markup in it – presumably the angle brackets are entities for some reason.

    1. Thanks – have corrected the post. Good luck!

  2. Denny says:

    Regarding the exceptions… there’s some discussion of the points you raise here in my FAQ, and some examples of the scope with which I might apply them on a page linked from that:

  3. Stuart Alexander says:

    The thing is, that the MP’s sometimes aren’t any better informed than the public. They don’t read all the bills and even admit that they do not have time to do so. Maybe providing this system of voting will ensure that at least someone will read the bill 😉 The PATRIOT act is a classic example, most of congress didn’t even read it. Generally one would assume that the people who care enough to log onto the website to vote will take the time to make an informed vote.
    Also, the plan is to have reference documentation about the issue to read on the same site as the poll.
    It is, as you say, a bit of an experiment, and requires a certain amount of trust in the public. Personally I think that’s what’s missing from politics!

  4. Another experiment in digital democracy can be found here,! It’s still a work in progress, but a work we hope to progress very far! It’s a website where you can make proposals, vote on other’s proposals, and get those top proposals heard by your local MP or decision maker. Right now we are in the piloting stage of the website and promoting it heavily in Durham with MP Roberta Blackman-Woods and MEP Fiona Hall on board.

    Anyone from England, Scotland, and Wales is welcome to use the site, Denny is on it, hopefully, you will find it useful!

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