We know that “crowd-funding” can be a great way for start-ups, charities and other campaigns to get momentum. So, can we now crowd-fund politics?
Fewer and fewer of us identify strongly with one of the main political parties. But engagement with issues and ideas is as strong as ever.
In recognition of this, David Cameron’s former “blue skies” thinker Steve Hilton has launched a new platform in the UK called Crowdpac.
It’s billed as an independent, political social-networking platform which encourages the electorate to think differently – issue first, party second.
The aim is to break traditional authority strongholds (based around big donors and party machines) and give political power back to the individual.
Users of Crowdpac take a match-making quiz, which tests their responses to key issues and suggests campaigns, politicians and parties they might support. Across the political spectrum, voters can pick and choose to support multiple campaigns.
Hilton and his partners believe the political landscape has changed and the days of single political party allegiances are going. Instead, they predict a new style of democracy based around issues-led, non-partisan and individual politics.
So, are they right?
The two-party system in British politics does seem to be slowly crumbling. Throughout the 1940s to 1970s Labour or the Conservatives party won 98% of seats in UK general elections. Now, this is closer to 60%, and it continues to fall.
My generation in particular are politically skittish when compared to our grandparents, flitting across an (arguably much less differentiated) party system. This is compounded by continually falling voter turnout.
Politics is also decentralising. Technology (particularly social media and campaign platforms like change.org) is enabling the public to disrupt traditional structures of political power and hold politicians to account in ways never seen before.
In January parliament debated whether Donald Trump should be banned from the UK, solely in response to a public petition, which now has 584,355 signatures.
Crowdpac is well-established across the pond. $100,000s of dollars are being raised across hundreds of campaigns every day. The platform presents (in a very user-friendly way) excellent data on things like the upcoming presidential election, city mayoral campaigns, and issues such as abortion, defence and immigration.
The future of Crowdpac in the UK rests entirely on the calibre of campaigns it can attract.
To date, fundamental change in the way we do politics in this country has been achingly slow.
But, just as other industries and sectors have been shaken by insurgent brands, so too will government and parliament now have to face the challenge of technology-led disruption.