Digital experts cautiously welcome Jeremy Corbyn's digital democracy manifesto

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's digital democracy manifesto, which was released yesterday, has been cautiously welcomed by elements of the digital marketing community.

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn released a manifesto which covered a wide number of elements including the proposal of a digital bill of rights for UK citizens, a digital citizen passport and changes to the BBC Charter to strengthen local media.

Speaking to The Drum, a number of marketing experts steeped in digital offered their response, with BIMA chair Adam Graham offering the following response: "It's great to see the leader of the Labour Party recognising and prioritising the importance of digital and the infrastructure that underpins the digital economy. The flaws in the manifesto have been pointed out elsewhere - not least the suggested duplications of effort - but we welcome the broad intent."

It was pointed out that similar ideas had been mooted in other government proposals such as IT for All in 2006 and the C&BINET Forum in 2009, Nesta's Designing Digital Democracy from 2015, and the UK Government's 2013 proposal for Broadband Delivery. There was a consensus of agreement that citizens needs to be a part of the journey as digital grows in importance with their lives.

“Start with people, their communities and their problems”, stated Chris Yapp, a freelance consultant who specialises in future thinking and innovation. "This manifesto is meant to be an enabler, but will not deliver unless it is designed to address real needs."

Yapp added: "They need to think how would a voter in Hartlepool who is thinking about voting UKIP would react if you asked them if they needed a digital identifier."

Meanwhile, Nicole Yershon, who has just departed Oglivy Labs, added: "It needs to be communicated better. As David Trott says, 'Simple is smart and complicated is stupid’."

Clinical practitioner Gill Lockwood sounded the need for these measures to become important to people's lives: "Do you want more worthwhile jobs, do you want to be less lonely? Then yes, we’ll sign up to it, we believe. Make it matter and that not knowing this stuff can hurt you.”

Lockwood continued: "Why not create a manifesto around grassroots projects delivered at a local level that solve real problems then scale them up? Work with seniors to reduce Alzheimer's by going online, address fuel poverty by connecting local communities to sustainable solutions."

Katz Kiely, chief executive and founder of Kiely & Co reasoned that this should be used as an opportunity to identify what prevents engagement with people in democracy.

"The problem is not the technology - its about the fact that people have lost all sense of trust in authority - including politicians," explained Kiely. “Get people involved as well as connected.”

Finally, Ann Longley, principal consultant for Something New Together suggested: “For a winning manifesto, design solutions that address the barriers to full democracy including trust."

Corbyn's digital manifesto proposals can be found online here.

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