The Conservatives are planning on running a competition for web developers to create a website that would allow large groups of people to help shape new policies- provided they win the next general election. The £1m taxpayer-funded prize would be rewarded to the online platform deemed by the Tories to best harness ‘the collective wisdom of the British people’.
The winning product must deliver an effective and available site for the public to post their ideas on, as well as a truly beneficial outcome for it to be worthy of the £1m payout, which the party says would be the biggest prize offered by a British government in the modern era.
Ideas “to get the ball rolling” suggested by the Tories include: identifying and rooting out wasteful government spending, designing credit card bills that anyone can understand; rating the quality of schools and hospitals; making government information clear and simple; and – they say – picking the England squad for the 2010 World Cup.
Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, revealed the plans on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, and said the party would “only give this money away… if there is a solution”.
Labour and the Lib Dems have so far dismissed the initiative as a “gimmick” and a publicity stunt. Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell said the Conservatives were “opting for a PR gimmick over policy substance” and predicted the idea would be “quietly dropped”.
“Families want serious, thought-through policies that meet their aspirations, not short-term public relations stunts,” she said.
For the Liberal Democrats, Work and Pensions spokesperson Jenny Willott MP said: “This prize is clearly a publicity stunt and a total waste of taxpayers’ money. There are already a multitude of ways to communicate with large numbers of people online, from Facebook to discussion groups. Maybe the Tories are so out of touch they don’t know what’s out there, but they shouldn’t waste £1m of public money reinventing the wheel.”
The plan will be introduced if the Conservatives win the next general election.