Our first trial in the wild. A community group have asked us to run an opinion poll for them. Watch this space.
All staff and research students have been issued with cards to support school-wide opinion polls. The first poll was related to proposals for changing our common room
Our first budgetary referendum. All staff in the school are to vote about how any excess funds will be used.
First trial of new software - we're naming a robot. We
first asked all students in the school to suggest names.
Then we asked some randomly chosen students to choose 5 names for
everyone to vote on. We ended up voting for one of:
Arcteryx, Dextrous Blue, MARFF, Segmentation Fault and Smurf Bunny.
The winning name was Arcteryx.
September 2012Tsvetelina Valcheva has been assigned to work on this project.
23 March 2010
Today is budget day and the old ritual will be played out. One man with a red bag of office will reveal what he has decided the nation will spend and how it will raise taxes to finance this.
This is the way it is done, and this is the way it seems always to have been done, 'democratic politics' is played out around his decisions. The Labour Party will go into the election on the basis of these decisions and the Tories will oppose them, offering some half revealed alternative package deal.
The voters will, for once, have a yes no decision to make on the package in a couple of months. But what if you agree with some of the budget and not other parts: what if you agree with the level of education expenditure but not the level of naval procurement. What if you would prefer the top rate of tax to be 55% and not 50%.
It's take it or leave it.
There has to be a better way! If phone voting can be used to decide trivial issues like who should leave Big Brother, then why can the public not have a say on the important issues that affect them?
It would be quite possible to put up a website with say half a dozen key questions. Should the top rate of tax go up 5%, down 5% or stay the same. Should VAT go up by 2%, down, 2% or stay the same. Should health expenditure go up 5%, down 5%, or stay the same.
Provided that the government had previously decided on the overall level of borrowing it is quite simple to count the votes and decide on a consensus level of taxes and expentitures. I show this in the talk I will be giving to the BCS conference next month.
If such a democratic budgeting system were introduced, and if there were provision for citizens initiatives on what questions were to be included in the vote, politics would change. Campaigns would arise focused around specific changes to the tax system that benefited different social classes. These are questions that directly affect peoples pockets, and would provide a motivation for greater democratic engagement.
In Germany the new Die Linke programme http://die-linke.de/programm/programmentwurf/ drawn up by Lafontaine commits to this sort of budgeting.
There would, of course, have to be all sorts of provisions to protect against fraud, but we know how to make mobile phone voting secure, anonymous and verifiable. The Handivote system is one example.