A petition expiring on January 21st 2016 was set up in late summer calling for a vote of no confidence in David Cameron.
The petition states “The current Tory government has caused devastation for the poorest in society for the last 5 years. We cannot afford another 5 years of Tory rule, with the recent welfare reform that will cause nothing but immense poverty in the UK.”
In the first week the petition reached the 10,000 signatures needed for a government response and as yet 104 days on, no response has been forthcoming.
4 days ago the number of signatures reached the 100,000 needed for the petition to be considered for debate in Parliament. In the past 4 days 70,807 people have signed. Even as I write this number is out of date. As I look 601 people have signed in the last hour. The prime ministers own constituency, Witney has generated more signatures than the Derbyshire Dales.
In the mean time, since 2010, Tory Party Membership has been dropping and membership to all the other parties has been rising.
What does this petition to vote no confidence in David Cameron indicate about the REAL mood across the country?
What does this all mean in terms of the electorate?
Does this indicate the days of harsh Tory rule are limited?
- Is Labour unelectable?
Despite the overwhelming grass roots support for Jeremy Corbyn and a new type of politics, Peter Mandelson on a HARDtalk interview on 6th November 2015 remained adamant that the Labour Party cannot be seen as a serious opposition whilst Jeremy Corbyn is leader and that the £3 members are not indicative of the electorate support for Labour.
The naysayers, like Peter Mandelson, argue that adding 15,500 new ‘full members’ to the Labour Party in the 24 hours after Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader and 50,000 new members within a week of his election is not an indicator that there is a mood-change in the electorate as a whole.
Let us examine this more carefully.
Between March 2014 and March 2015 the Green Party increased it’s membership by 41,596; a 25.42% increase.
In June 2015 the SNP membership was around 110,000 compared to 25,000 in December 2013 and UKIP membership increased by around 10,000 over the same period
In spring 2015 approximately 1.0% of the electorate was a member of either the Conservative, Labour or the Liberal Democrat parties. This is a rise compared to 2013, when membership of these three parties reached a historic low of 0.8%. However Membership of “other” parties (not Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat) has increased markedly in recent years.
Do the changes in membership of all political parties act as a poll of the mood of the country and the attitude towards current government policies?
As the graph shows membership numbers of a party is not an indicator of which party will win an election. But does interest in membership of parties indicate general political concerns in the country?
Since I started writing this blog I had to update my numbers because another 1,010 people signed the petition for a vote of no confidence in David Cameron.
I wonder who amongst our politicians is listening?
Not just listening to the surface but below the surface. Listening to the voice of the people, whether that voice is signing petitions or failing to turn out to vote.
It is a government, a parliament and indeed a political party that has become inordinately complacent, inordinately removed from the people it claims to represent, and inordinately closed and restricted in it’s ability to govern, that refuses to look at the groundswell of interest in hearing a politician speak or in signing petitions for radical change.
Indeed popular opinion is that politicians are not interested in the country or the people that they represent, they are not even interested in the party that they represent but are in fact looking out only for themselves
This infographic along with the increase in membership of the SNP, the Green Party and UKIP, plus the increase in Labour Party membership since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, is showing us that the people want politicians who are looking out for them.
This isn't, as Peter Mandelson states, a few left wing activists shouting loudly and destroying the party but an indicator that the country in general feels unrepresented.
Paul Mason during his talk on Post Capitalism at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities, at the University of Cambridge spoke of the power of Networks and Technology.
He speaks of time he spent in Greece as the Greeks voted a resounding NO to further Austerity.
He says "having tramped the streets of Athens alongside them for the best part of two months, I am certain that the “Oxi” movement was essentially a demand to stay in the Euro on different terms. You cannot get 70-80% of people in the working-class suburbs of Athens turning out – in the face of a rightwing media bombardment – on far-left anti-Euro sentiment alone."
His amazement at the force of People Power is palpable.
On November 4th 2008, Barack Obama won the USA presidency with 365 electoral votes to 173 received by McCain. Obama won 52.9 percent of the popular vote and became the first African American to be elected president.
He bucked the trend of the vote being controlled by mainstream media and political campaigns funded by wealthy businessmen by using the social platforms of the people. No one saw this coming.
As I write the petition to bring a vote of no confidence in David Cameron has risen to 164,219 signatures.
Oliver Reichardt, Director of Fellowship at the RSA, argues that political parties who use technology to make membership of a party fun will be the ones that increase their membership the most.
He suggests that membership should be free; that we should focus on building on line communities of interest no matter how specific; that light touch facilitation to connect individuals to those who want to debate similar topics, no matter how narrow, should be central to our membership offer.
That we should adopt Gamification, to motivate members to build the membership and encourage voters to turn out, and that we should be collecting data so that we can tailor communications, calls and campaign literature according to individual people's interests, professions and concerns.
Oliver Reichardt says, "Each party does some of the above to a greater or lesser extent but it is ad-hoc. Parties as a whole are unable to break out of the shackles of old ways of thinking. The first one that does should have an unstoppable advantage, but it will take courage to make the leap."
It is time to use our networks and technology to get the voice of the people heard.