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Experiment in direct democracy


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For a politician to rely on an internet poll to decide how to vote in Tynwald shows either huge naivety about the reality of the internet or incredibly poor judgement.

I think Stinky was just having a laugh. Though surely in a direct democracy if 51% of us say you should get a haircut, you should.

Evening Ladies & Gents.

 

Some people still seem to be struggling with the facts, so just for the record let me go over it again. What's happening at the moment is an experiment, as the topic of the thread rightly states. Some people seem to have concerns about validation process. These concerns have already been publicly acknowledged and the limits of what we're doing at this stage fully accepted. This has been made clear to the MHKs taking part, and will be reiterated when the results are discussed. The results of the polls this week will not be binding upon any decisions in Tynwald, they will be for the MHKs who have taken part to use as they choose at this stage.

 

Clearly the team could have implemented a system with a much higher level of identification required and this was discussed, however the likelihood then is that we would not have got anyone to take part - for obvious reasons. Getting people on board with minimal effort was the whole point at this stage. The bar has been set very low for this reason and acknowledged as such. The team will be discussing the various options there are to make the votes as verifiable as possible if the idea moves forward. Ultimately the current system of official electoral registration and then voting is largely unverified, so the bar we have to beat isn't exactly high.

 

Some of you obviously have an axe to grind against Phil, and that's fair enough. He's a politician, goes with the territory. I'm sure he can handle the love, and I'm sure he's aware that the views of a handful of angry people on social media are not necessarily those of his wider electorate. Again, just for the record, I first pushed this idea to Phil back in 2011 and he did not think it viable then. I have been pushing him again over the last 7 months or so. There are a number of reasons he is humouring me now, which he has discussed in public, one of which is of course getting re-elected. I'm struggling to see why people find this surprising. To be clear though, the website was my idea, the steam packet vote was my idea. I'm not doing this for Phil, and he's not agreeing to take part for my benefit. He doesn't have access to the voting data and neither do I.

 

As to those of you who think that the basic premise of direct democracy is not a good idea, I guess we could debate the finer points of why you are wrong - starting with the clear and abundant failure of virtually all systems of executive government - but is there really any point? Your opinion and my opinion as individuals is irrelevant - that's democracy for you. I intend to offer this choice because it's a solution that has a demonstrable track record of success when we are facing total failure, and because it is a choice we are not being offered otherwise. People will either want this or they won't - and if they want it they will get it. Maybe now is not the time, maybe things have to get much worse on the IOM before enough people start to ask why and look for solutions. If they do have to get a lot worse before people seek change so be it, I will keep this option on the table because for everything that's wrong with DD the other options are much much worse. Thankfully this won't be decided by the members of Manx Forums, as I'm sure you'll all agree.

 

 

J.

 

James

 

Thank you for coming on here to discuss your suggestions and, in fact, for putting them forward. Whilst I don't agree with the proposal it is clear you want to improve our system of governance and I appreciate your efforts.

 

Please ignore the slurs and the trolling, it happens on here, some lack manners. We do need to be able to discuss new ideas without resorting to insults.

 

As to your points ;

 

I am not very concerned about the validation process. This one is an experiment and I am sure, if we wished to proceed, we could develop secure means of registration. We operate bank accounts and file tax returns via the internet so secure on-line voting must be possible. I expect it will have a significant cost which would not be warranted for an initial experiment.

 

Re Phil G - I don't know him so no axe to grind there. His involvement may well be related to seeking votes but, as you say, why should we be surprised at that?

 

Re "with the clear and abundant failure of virtually all systems of executive government" surely that is a trifle harsh! There is a lot wrong with our system of government but there is a lot right too. We have free education and health services, we are largely crime free, have little unemployment and have not been to war for several decades. The good bits are not all down to our "systems of executive government" and there certainly are issues to be dealt with but I don't see a "clear an abundant failure". This does matter as if our current system was a disaster, we would need urgent and radical change, as opposed to gradual improvement.

 

It is the basic premise of direct democracy that I have a problem with. Those who will grasp it will be the hashtag warriors and political activists, they are not representative of the population. Even if you did get everyone involved they/we are not equipped with the relevant information, time or skills to make appropriate judgements nor are they/we accountable and can thus vote as they wish without considering the consequences. The Brexit vote is an example, the majority voted to leave the EU, and so we must, but they voted without knowing what this would result in (as no-one still does). If a politician made such a decision there would be consequences. Imagine if we had a vote to raise taxes (big NO) and then a vote to reduce class sizes (big YES) and keep funding Health Service deficits (very BIG YES). How does a page of HTML reconcile these opposing expectations?

 

The Labour party is another example, party members are activists and clearly like Jeremy C but the wider public would never vote for him. The Conservatives, being more ruthless, have cut out democracy/on-fighting/populism and chose to be effective ie cut out the activists.

 

To try to be positive I wondered if we could use direct democracy to elect a Chief Minister. I am frustrated by our regular procession of prospective-MHKs who promise more for health, more for education, more jobs and more cake (OK, I added the last bit but it would be nice) without considering how to fund these items. I wondered if we could get prospective Chief Ministers to put forward a programme which we could then vote on and if they disappointed against this programme, we would not re-elect. It sounds nice but in fact we would be voting based on an advert without knowing if the candidates were capable or could put a team together that would work effectively, so unfortunately I think even this has no legs.

 

BUT I do applaud your efforts and I am grateful that you are prepared to put something constructive forward and I hope you are not put of by the rude and churlish comments of some.

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You're missing my point. How are you going to prove that those accounts were counted up in the process if they simply publish "Yes X No Y". Whether it's true or not, they could just claim they weeded out all fake accounts and you can't counter that unless they publish details of every vote, which I highly doubt that they would do (even more so now that you've been gleefully telling them your plan like a crap Bond villain)

 

I don't think anyone would argue that this is a perfect system, but I'm puzzled by the furious anger you seem to be directing at this experiment (which is what they describe it as themselves) rather than presenting your evidence in a constructive way and suggesting ways it could be improved.

 

The way you're going about it suggests you have a personal vendetta which damages your message.

Not at all and as Philip Dearden acknowledges off the back of Brexit a lot of people have had their fill of these stupid internet petitioning twats who will vote for any half arsed concept in record numbers largely because they are complete numpties with an axe to grind. Once the vote has been cast, like Brexit, the rest of us have to follow these dickheads down whatever sucidal rabbit hole their extreme lack of judgement, and often, lack of education has taken us. It's a farce.

 

Anyway back to the specific failings

 

1. There are a huge number of fake accounts that have voted on there

2. We have records of all those fake accounts as we know the people who set them up

3. There is little validation that anyone voting on there is a real person whatsoever

4. You can set up an account even as Phil Gawne if you want because that's what someone did and managed to vote and post

5. All of that info has been logged and screen shot

6. The site isn't fit for purpose as it isn't democratic at all and a politician or his supporters could very easily set up sock puppets to drive a vote trend

7. None of the checks appear to be fit for purpose at all

8. On that basis why the hell are votes in Keys being tabled on the back of this?

9. You might as well vote on a MF poll as that's about as valid as anything set up on that site.

10. This sort of appallingly bad site should not be being pushed in a run up to an election as being a democratic solution to anything

11. No politician should be associating themselves with such a site (directly or indirectly) whilst they are also electioneering

12. Oh and the Steam Packet questions are loaded. If you don't have the guts to vote for the measures yourself don't hide behind a farcical and flawed polling system you will claim told you to vote that way.

 

The whole thing looks like a cheap electioneering ploy. You can only assume as some people are getting desperate for any old cobblers they can just to try to vote grab.

 

It also provides a cheapened, demeaning, view of what democracy and voter empowerment is. Voting for dummies - that's all it is.

Edited by Weevil central
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"complete numpties with an axe to grind"

 

Isn't there are bit of an irony there?

 

Anyway, in a democracy we (should) all have our say as much anyone else.

 

Bit of a bastard isn't it.

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"complete numpties with an axe to grind"

 

Isn't there are bit of an irony there?

 

Anyway, in a democracy we (should) all have our say as much anyone else.

 

Bit of a bastard isn't it.

No irony at all. To have a say and to cast a valid vote you must be a "person" - and lots of the voters on there are not "people" at all which is my exact point.

Edited by Weevil central
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Anyway back to the specific failings

 

 

None of that rambling addresses my point that they'll simply tell you that all fake accounts were weeded out and there's nothing you can do to prove otherwise.

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'Even if you did get everyone involved they/we are not equipped with the relevant information, time or skills to make appropriate judgements nor are they/we accountable and can thus vote as they wish without considering the consequences.'

 

I think in most cases, the above sums it up. I think the only way this kind of thing works is in an 'either/or' deadlock situation where the consequences of either decision are not crucial to one half of the population. Far from creating or improving democracy, the fallout could lead to a divided population and less democracy.

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To answer Weevil 12 points.

 

1 to 5. That's because you've set out to wreck this experiment.

 

 

6 to 7. The site is an experiment, a proof of concept. Solutions can be found to address your concerns if this goes live.

 

8. The votes would be happening anyway. This is an experiment, it doesn't bind anyone to vote anyway it's testing the idea.

 

9. Agreed but irrelevant because this is a prototype.

 

10. It's testing an idea that a candidate wants to put forth post election. A novel concept in the Isle of Man because they usually wait until after the election is in place and find out who the CM before thinking about policy.

 

11. Makes no sense.

 

12. Gawne's going to vote the COMIN line on them. Not sure that type of question will work and prefer Kate's approach seeking approval for a simple proposal. But this is an experiment and these details will be sorted if this is to progress.

 

I'm really not convinced that this is a brilliant idea. But let's see how it pans out there's no need for a rush to judgement. Certainly I can see no reason for setting out to wreck the experiment at such an early stage. Unless you are an opponent of Gawne politically.

Edited by Declan
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'Even if you did get everyone involved they/we are not equipped with the relevant information, time or skills to make appropriate judgements nor are they/we accountable and can thus vote as they wish without considering the consequences.'

 

I think in most cases, the above sums it up. I think the only way this kind of thing works is in an 'either/or' deadlock situation where the consequences of either decision are not crucial to one half of the population. Far from creating or improving democracy, the fallout could lead to a divided population and less democracy.

I prefer the approach that it could become a gauge of support for a particular policy.

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Hey, don't forget that when the Isle of Man first had elections it was all done by a simple show and count of hands. Problem there was that the candidates who were the likes of advocates and bank managers had their clerks in the crowds taking notes. So you might want to vote carefully if you needed such as a bank loan sometime.

 

Back then it was just well healed men who had the vote in our particular brand of democracy.

 

Through time of course, the failproof method using ballot papers came in and we've had that for well over a century. Yes, that was erm, infallible. Until that is, the non-infallibility was exposed big time in the Douglas East by-election of 2010 (cheers Buster). A number of Tynwald members had said years earlier that the system was open to such abuse, but because one of those shouting was Peter Karran MHK, Tynwald ignored it (yeah, thanks guys, you do that a lot).

 

So any new method needs looking into with interest at this stage. Tynwald won't do it on their own. And as far as digitial technology is concerned, we are only at the thin end of the wedge, despite what many of us think. It looks like this is moving in the right direction. Only problem is the PG factor, but hey, maybe he will be slain by the monster he is helping to create.

Edited by gettafa
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Exactly. Some cockends on here getting bent out of shape over it.

Us democrats get a little upset when a minority try to usurp the majority.

Its worse than that which is why a few people have decided to test the credibility (or not) or the whole set up. You can't table votes in Tynwald on the back of fresh air substantiated votes cast by people some of whom who don't even know whether they actually exist.

 

And Declan. We're sorry you can't log in but fake Phil still can and he left you two messages at 5:45 & 5:53. You probably can't pick them up being a real person and being banned and all that. He cast a few votes at several intervals today too. But then again that seems to say a lot about the checking standards that apply.

 

PS. We checked and once a vote is cast the admins can't remove it. Well why should they be able to otherwise they'd be able to manipulate the whole poll outcomes wouldn't they?

Edited by Weevil central
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Exactly. Some cockends on here getting bent out of shape over it.

Us democrats get a little upset when a minority try to usurp the majority.

It's a social media opinion poll.

 

Not the foundation of the next 30 years of government policy ffs

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