“Vote now by pressing the red button on your handsets”

Posted on 10/04/2010

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Politics just got a lot more real.

I choose to waste my time reading Boing Boing and one of the big issues at the moment is Britain’s Digital Economy Bill that was passed this week. Through various articles they’ve highlighted the contents of the bill and encouraged visitors to show their opposition.

The first call to action asked people to sign their names on the online petition, which by the 7th April had gained over 15,000 signatures. An alternative way to approach MPs was through WriteToThem.com, where you can search for your local MP (something available elsewhere too), search for keywords in transcribed debates from the House of Commons and guesstimate where they stand on this issue.

Failing that, you can do the same with members of the House of Lords and ask them to oppose the Act once it’s passed by the Commons. This is exactly what I’ve just done with my Letter to Lord Clement-Jones.

Finally, you can check up on how your MP or Lord voted through Theyworkforyou.com and Publicwhip.org.uk.

I’m pleased to say that mine, Lynne Featherstone MP, did vote No to the bill. She might have voted with her party (which apparently she’s always done), but I’m just pleased that she attended: less than half of MPs did!

Politics is still very distant from majority of the population, shown nowhere more clearly than in The Tower Block of Commons. As I’ve found out, the internet offers several ways to break down this distance. An improvement, but not all that great given that only 79.8% of the population (if the statistics are to be believed). The people most disenfranchised from society are most likely to be the ones least able to make themselves’ heard.

The Digital Britain plan proposes nationwide broadband access by 2020. I’m imagining Britain’s council estates with free wifi… and relatively few people with the hardware and the skills to use it. The same is applies to elderly people of the baby boomer and prewar generations: they need support to get online otherwise they risk being forced to the margins. It needs all three: connection, hardware and training. A little like this: the OLPC programme.

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