[LINK] UK Tories offer prize for website

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Fri Jan 1 19:06:49 AEDT 2010

Tories offer £1m prize for voters' website

A £1m taxpayer-funded prize will be offered by the (UK) Conservatives in
a competition to produce an online platform that can harness 'the
collective wisdom of the British people'

Olivia Martin  www.guardian.co.uk  Wednesday 30 December 2009 17.04 GMT

The Tories today promised to give £1m of taxpayers' money as a cash prize 
to the person or team who manages to "harness the wisdom of the crowd" by 
producing an online platform to solve "common problems".

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, said the party would "only 
give this money away ... if there is a solution".

But he said: "Conservatives believe that the collective wisdom of the 
British people is much greater than that of a bunch of politicians or so-
called experts. And new technology now allows us to harness that wisdom 
like never before. So at this time of year, when families and friends are 
getting together, we're announcing a new idea to help the British people 
get together to help solve the problems that matter to them.

"There are currently no technological platforms that enable in-depth 
online collaboration on the scale required by government – this prize is 
a good and cost-effective way of getting one."

Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Look at the U-turns over 
childcare vouchers, over the 10p tax, over the NHS IT system. It is crazy 
that these things have gone wrong when you've got lots and lots of 
retired health professionals, retired policemen, people in the teaching 
profession, who have huge knowledge and expertise and had they been able 
to contribute better to the policymaking process we could have avoided 
some of these problems."

Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrats' spokeswoman, 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.

Tessa Jowell, the Cabinet Office minister, predicted the idea would be 
quietly dropped by the Conservatives in the new year.

"Families want serious, thought-through policies that meet their 
aspirations, not short-term public relations stunts. Labour already makes 
full use of collaboration and social networking technologies to consult 
with people."



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