Geeking the Vote

The Geek the Vote campaign has started spreading the message that the Liberal Democrats have the strongest case for building a geek-friendly Britain. I registered the domain name and started work on the site on Monday lunchtime. By Wednesday evening we had 408 Facebook fans, 272 supportive tweets using our campaign hashtag #geekthevote and a mention in the London Evening Standard.

Geeks are an emerging force in the political game. I personally became more interested in politics through following a number of single-issue campaigns online: Ben Goldacre’s tireless assault on irrationalism in public health (among other issues); a Number10.gov.uk petition to support honest discovery in science, rather than predefined outcomes and the campaign to support Simon Singh’s libel defence against the British Chiropractic Association, which has now grown into a call for extensive libel reform, supported by all major parties. Before the MPs expenses scandal hit the major newspapers, much of the legwork to pressure MPs to publish their expenses was organised through a letter-writing campaign run by democracy website MySociety.org.

The web is allowing geeks to examine party policies on single issues as never before. On science and engineering the CaSE advocacy group (www.sciencecampaign.org.uk) is unparalleled in gathering detailed information on science policy from all the parties, both in the manifestos and from the party leaders (though, at the time of writing, Gordon Brown is yet to respond). In addition Alan Bell’s Vote Geek campaign (votegeek.org.uk) is a great initiative to quiz individual candidates on their stance in relation to technology. Despite the similarity in the campaign names we have no desire to steal his thunder.

I’m hugely supportive of non-partisan geek-advocacy and the work of the sites mentioned above have helped me to determine who I want to support in the upcoming election. Browsing the blogs and forums online, however, I noticed that, while a huge number of people in the science community were sympathetic to Lib Dem policies (according to a poll, 55% of Bad Science forum posters plan to vote Lib Dem at the time of writing), their attitude was begrudging ‘wasting’ a vote on a third-place party.

Nick Clegg’s performance in the first leaders’ debate has changed that. A Lib Dem vote no longer seems wasted. For all the talk of the Lib Dems losing their ‘bounce’ once their policies come under scrutiny, this is the moment when the geeks of Britain should look at how strong the Lib Dem manifesto is on science, technology and digital policy in comparison with Labour and the Conservatives.

It is in the nature of geeks to be cautious about political support. We demand evidence, policy detail and statistics before choosing who to back. This might explain why so many science bloggers will attack Labour and Tory policies, but fall short of openly backing the Lib Dems.

With the Geek the Vote campaign, we’re hoping to act as a central hub for all of Britain’s geeks: scientists, engineers, IT professionals, bloggers, science writers, students and many more to express their support for geek-friendly policy, and to show that they think the Lib Dems are the party that best represents them in that respect.

Please stop by our front page at www.geekthevote.org.uk, where we have a summary of 6 geek-friendly policies in the Lib Dem manifesto. If you want to get involved, you can also submit content to the Geek the Vote Tumblr feed at www.geekthevote.tumblr.com/submit, and you can spread the word by Twittering with the #geekthevote hashtag.

May 6 • Geek the Vote • Vote Lib Dem

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6 Comments

  • is this why lib dems spend so much time trolling on tory websites?

  • Andrew Suffield 23rd Apr '10 - 1:36pm

    No, that’s just regular loathing.

  • Hmm. So you try to satisfy people who want evidence by launching a campaing.

    Nope, you need to lauch evidence…

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