Labour Party

Labour’s ‘digital experts’ advocate online voting for UK elections

In a report launched this month, a network of ‘digital experts’ from the Labour Party’s ‘Labour Digital’ group have included a recommendation that the UK should ‘implement an electronic voting system that allows all citizens to vote online for national and local UK elections’.

The network was launched in March 2014 at the request of Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna and is chaired by Lord Mitchell, a former technology entrepreneur.

Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan recently announced at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester that Labour plans to introduce ‘electronic voting’.

The report entitled ‘Number One in Digital’ makes 82 recommendations in order to ‘make the UK the number one country in the digital revolution’.

In the foreword of the report, Labour’s Policy Coordinator, Jon Cruddas MP says that ‘we are at the start of the internet revolution’ and that ‘the digital economy demands a new approach to government’.

The report makes a range of recommendations including changes to digital infrastructure, education, and business.

The final two recommendations refer to the move towards online voting.

Recommendation 81 reads that:

Britain should implement an electronic voting system that allows all citizens to vote online for national and local UK elections.

The reasoning is as follows:

Indeed, questions must be raised over the efficacy of a representative democratic system that provides little official scope for realtime digital feedback in age where an MP, standing in central lobby, can read the tweet of a constituent who has just watched Prime Minister’s Questions on the BBC’s dedicated online democracy service. The potential digital technology holds in providing data to policy makers, reducing information asymmetries between politicians and voters and lowering the barriers to engagement, must be faced head on, and a future government should consider moving toward an inclusive model of democracy fit for 21st century society.

The final recommendation in the report also advocates online voting, but on legislation in the House of Lords.  It states that ‘20% of the electoral college of the House of Lords should be allocated to the public who would vote on legislation online and be supported by an institutionalised briefing service.’

The report estimates that the introduction of online voting for UK elections would cost up to £100million.

Would you be more likely to vote if you could do so online? Let us know here.

Labour announce plans to introduce ‘electronic voting’

sadiq khanIn his speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester today, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan announced that should the Labour Party win the General Election in 2015 they will introduce ‘electronic voting’.

After commenting on the Scottish independence referendum, Khan, who is tipped to be a Labour candidate for the 2016 London Mayoral election, said the following:

“Westminster has become a dirty word.

We ignore this at our peril.  That’s why Labour will overhaul our democracy.  Making it as easy as possible to vote.  Transforming elections so that voting is in tune with the busy lives people lead.

Holding elections at weekends to raise turnout.  Polling opened a week in advance to allow early voting.  Electronic voting, making sure it’s affordable and isn’t open to abuse.”

It’s not clear what form of ‘electronic voting’ that Labour are committing to as the term could refer to electronic voting machines at polling booths, electronic voting in public spaces, or remote electronic voting also known as online voting.

It is also not clear what process of electronic voting they will pursue.

Undoubtedly, we will endeavour to find out the detail on this policy.

In addition to this, Khan said that Labour are committed to democratic reforms in other areas and said that ‘votes for 16 and 17 year olds is an idea whose time has come’.

LL screenshotThis is a move that Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond also pushed for yesterday.

We supported the call for the right to vote to be extended to 16 and 17 year olds in a discussion on London Live yesterday alongside youth charity vInspired and online news organisation Shout Out UK.

This can be watched here.

Today’s announcement makes the Labour Party the first major political party in the UK to commit to digitalising the voting process.

Whether this translates to online voting is yet to be seen, but keep your eyes peeled here for the detail when it comes.

Which Scottish #indyref campaign is leading on social media?

wetter togetherWith just over two weeks to go until Scotland decides it’s future in the Independence Referendum, WebRoots Democracy has analysed the social media followings of the two official campaigns who have been hitting social media hard with videos, statuses, twibbons and even ice-bucket challenges: Yes Scotland and Better Together.

This analysis is on the basis of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ followers.

On Twitter and Facebook, the Yes Scotland campaign is the clear winner with 67% of the share on Twitter (67,766 followers), and 58% on Facebook (240,095 likes).  On Google+, Yes Scotland are edging it with 51.1% of the share (34,534 followers).

The Better Together campaign has 33,140 Twitter followers, 174,366 Facebook likes, and 33,031 Google+ followers.

There is no data currently available for the number of YouTube subscribers to Yes Scotland’s channel, however in the number of views, Better Together is leading with 1,036,668 views compared to the Yes campaign’s 600,333.  However, this may be in part due to Better Together’s ‘The woman who made up her mind‘ video which came under heavy criticism on social media.

Not including YouTube, the Yes Scotland campaign is winning on social media with 58.7% compared to Better Together’s 41.3%.

Away from the Scottish Independence debate, in terms of political parties’ social media presence, far-right party Britain First is still leading on Facebook and Twitter with a combined following of 413,418, followed by the Conservatives (376,951); Labour (334,103); UKIP (303,932); Liberal Democrats (171,332); BNP (170,746); and the Green Party (144,458).

Far-right party, Britain First, now has the largest social media presence

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, WebRoots Democracy will be analysing the social media followings of the main political parties and publishing monthly ‘Election by Social Media’ results.

This analysis is on the basis of Facebook and Twitter followers and generates a percentage share of followers, where in this case followers equals votes.

Below are the results for June 29th, 2014:

Election by Social Media june

Britain First is a far-right, nationalist party formed by ex-members of the British National Party in 2011.  It has no elected representatives in Local Councils, the European Parliament, or the UK Parliament, but the popularity of its Facebook page has surged since the 2014 D-Day.

In this analysis, Britain First are ahead of the Conservatives by 8.9 percentage points on social media as a result of a stronger Facebook following (497,554 likes).

Labour have the best Twitter presence, however, with 142,629 followers; over 28,000 followers ahead of the Conservative Party.

UKIP are also performing strongly on Facebook (226,091 likes) making up for a poor Twitter following (62,663).

The Liberal Democrats take 5th place, thanks to a stronger Facebook presence.  On Twitter, they are almost neck-and-neck with the Green Party.

Similar to UKIP, Britain First have a weak Twitter presence with just 3,655 followers.

See last month’s analysis here.

Election by Social Media

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, WebRoots Democracy will be analysing the social media followings of the main political parties and publishing monthly ‘Election by Social Media’ results.

This analysis is on the basis of Facebook and Twitter followers and generates a percentage share of followers, where in this case followers equals votes.

Below are the results for May 31st, 2014:

Election by Social Media - May 31

In this analysis, the Conservatives are just edging Labour by 0.2% on social media as a result of a stronger Facebook following (203,175 likes).

Labour have the best Twitter presence, however, with 139,546 followers; over 27,000 followers ahead of the Conservative Party.

UKIP are also performing strongly on Facebook (194,058 likes) making up for a poor Twitter following (61,716).

The Liberal Democrats take 4th place, thanks to a stronger Facebook presence.  On Twitter, they are almost neck-and-neck with the Green Party.