Yesterday, in an oddly formatted e-mail, Jeremy Corbyn launched his new digital vision for the UK.
Conspiracy theories being all the rage these days, I’d like to suggest that the bulk of this policy outline forms Jeremy Corbyn’s first onslaught against the person most likely to take the Labour leadership away from him, Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn has been leader of the Labour party for just short of one year and, in that time, it’s hard not to feel that we’ve been seeing two different people. The first is very much a flesh and blood man, who struggles to stay on topic, or on policy, when he speaks without notes and who finds talking to the press awkward and often angering. He has a slightly odd turn of phrase, a habit of saying what he thinks without considering the implications and a dislike of confrontation.
The second Corbyn, his on-line presence, is a markedly different voice. It is measured and thoughtful, argues the points or carefully raises new ones as a distraction, presents figures with confidence not necessarily borne from their accuracy and explains away the gaffs of his less competent twin.
This is the essence of Corbyn, surrounded by a shell of advisers and communicators, all meticulously polishing the message, disassociating it from the all too fallible human at its heart.
Yesterday’s digital policy announces the intention of the second Corbyn to kill the first.
Why else headline with the most expensive proposal that will benefit fewest people, the universal access to high-speed broadband? With the Digital Citizen Passport and the Massive Multi-Person On-line Deliberation the intention is clearly to move democracy to the Internet, and one cannot do that until it can be guaranteed that every single person will be able to participate.
Hence the top-of-the-sheet announcement assures us that everybody will have a voice, the digital passport limits that voice to one per person and the online deliberation takes the first step to moving voting online, with every participant given access to the Open Knowledge Library, so that they’re not arguing from a position of ignorance. That all of this will be run on open-source software is a guarantee, of sorts, that we’ll be able to see that it’s all done fairly, that the program isn’t chucking in another couple of million Corbyn supporters every time there’s a vote.
Killed along with the physical presence of Jeremy Corbyn will be his two co-conspirators who have been so embarrassing to the transcendent virtual Corbyn; the mainstream media and parliamentary process.
In moving democracy on-line the Corbyn camp hope to boost the importance of new media, such as The Canary, and bloggers and vloggers, Another Angry Voice and The Artist Taxi-Driver spring to mind, and to diminish the old form of reporting, where people who knew what they were talking about discussed issues with politicians.
And the team that have repeatedly relied upon Corbyn’s leadership mandate as the trump card in any argument get to use the same in parliamentary debates. Why bother debating an issue, when you can just confidently assert that it is the overwhelming will of the British public? Every topic becomes a new Brexit, where we’re told not to discuss any alternatives, because the public have already spoken.
In 7 bullet points then the Corbyn campaign announces its plan to kill Corbyn and create a new world, where the idea of Jeremy Corbyn is separated from the reality of Jeremy Corbyn, and the voice with which he speaks can never die; “Of course not. How could he die? Next question.”
Digital and incorruptible we can be governed in the sure knowledge that nothing can ever go wrong with these digital servicaes