Saturday 26 May 2018

Britain's smallest parties: Meet Something New

Here’s what’s in that manifesto…

By Taylor Heyman

A party that crowd-sourced its policies wants to woo voters away from the main three parties with a new way of looking at politics.

We spoke to James Smith, 41, co-founder of Something New and the party’s parliamentary candidate for Horsham, about its unusual beginnings and what it hopes to achieve this General Election.

What does Something New stand for?

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Something New’s manifesto confesses the ideas within it are “intentionally idealistic” but “they show the direction we would like to see the UK head in”.

These policies include the legalisation of recreational drugs, legalising sex work for those over the age of consent and closing down all tax havens under British jurisdiction.

Something New has also set its sights on replacing the House of Lords with a House of Citizens, with members of the public serving a single fixed-length term, with the right to decline.

The party is hoping to appeal to those who distrust the old parties by adopting a transparent approach, said Smith.

Smith said: “We make all our policy completely in the open; we publish all our finances, down to the last penny; we publish our advertising data; and we can do all that because we’re not afraid of what people will find out. Instead, we’re trying to show how trust could be restored to the system.”

When was it set up?

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“The party grew out of an earlier project to write an collaborative manifesto that anyone could add to, which started in 2013,” says Smith.

The idea was to help people become involved in politics, and a year later they had enough policies to think seriously about starting a political party in time for the 2015 general election.

“I decided to do so, and along with my brother-in-law and a couple of friends, we formed the party to build a movement around what we’d built,” says Smith.

“From there, it’s carried on slowly building, getting more people involved, and though we’re still very small, we’re gaining some momentum.”

In Smith’s words, they are “sandwiching the country” by fielding two candidates – Smith himself in Horsham and Lewis Sturrock in Ross, Skye and Lochaber – on June 8.

How would the party like to see British democracy change?

Like many smaller parties, Something New supports a system of of proportional representation – namely the Single Transferable Vote method – over First Past The Post. To make standing for office more accessible, they would remove the current £500 deposit to stand, but would require 20 nominations from constituency residents.

“We’re at a point where the world is changing faster than those old parties and institutions can keep up,” said Smith.

“They don’t know what the future is going to bring, they’re still trying to adapt to the 21st century. So small parties with new ideas, built on new ways of working, are part of the cycle of change, I think.

“We can fill gaps that the old parties don’t even know are there”.

Press Association

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