This is an example website which I hope will give local people and community groups the novel idea that actually this election should be about them, their needs, concerns and aspirations. It should not be about politicians, party candidates or party manifestos written in Westminster by people who know nothing about their lives and the challenges they face. Nor should they be hoodwinked by headlines that will blaze across the front pages of our newspapers and TV screens, courtsey of party war chests and corporate lobbyists who have far to much money to throw at their favourite agenda topic.
The manifesto uses the CPRE Sussex Charter as a template and I urge anyone looking to adapt this prototype to use similar charters, documents and manifestos that local and regional voluntary organisations in your area write for their own purposes. That makes your manifesto real and gives it a local context. It also means that the wording and values contained in your manifesto are more likely to touch a powerful chord of popular sentiment and win consensus more quickly than a manifesto put together from scratch that may need much time and re-writing before any consensual agreement is reached.
The manifesto also includes wording and questions taken from the Sussex Wildlife Manifesto as well as Lewes Civic Society. Again, seek out similar local organisations who have useful documents that you can adapt for this purpose.
Finally I urge you to keep a dedicated Election Website such as this,separate from any website for your particular community, campaign group or voluntary organisation. Let it be a standalone record of the manifesto and responses from party candidates. It will be far more accessible than a public record tucked away in an obscure corner of your website, or worse still, a council website.
It also means that other groups and organisations not yet involved in the election can later share any record of letters and exchanges with their current MP and parliamentary candidates. Be open to all sections of the community, not just those who share your values. For if we want a truly open democracy, ‘a government of the people by the people for the people’, we first have to practice among ourselves.
Let the website be part of a ‘new commons’, owned by all of us and let it stand as the foundation stone for a new and very different type of election experience, one that ‘speaks truth to power’, starts at the grassroots and spreads to Westminster, involves all of us not just the wealthy few and gives a voice to those who have no voice, not just those who shout loudest.