Press release, 15 March 2004:
Your Party – www.yourparty.org - is launched today
Your Party (www.yourparty.org) - a new online political party - is launched today and announces its intention to field candidates in the forthcoming European elections.
The party is based on the principles of democracy and genuine popular involvement. Members will choose all candidates and make all policy decisions. Issues before the House of Commons, European Parliament or local government will be voted on by the membership. Party representatives must then vote in accordance with the party's decision.
Membership is open to everyone at the party's website, www.yourparty.org. Members will be entitled to vote on party policies, put forward their own policy proposals and register to stand as candidates in European and other elections.
The party will be non-ideological, and will assess every issue on its merits. By steering clear of the adversarial conflict, endemic in British politics, members will be able openly to discuss and scrutinize every issue. Your Party believes that this process will lead to better-informed, more effective and more democratic decision-making and policies.
Your Party was formed by Dan Thompson, Rod McLaren, Simon Morris and Liz Morris in January 2004 - as a way of addressing increasing public apathy and disillusionment towards mainstream politics, harnessing the rising popularity of single-issue campaigns and capitalising on the increasing impact of the internet on politics.
Thompson, McLaren and Simon Morris previously worked together at 365 Corporation, which was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1999 and rapidly built up more than 3 million users a month for its websites.
Thompson stated "Election turnouts may be falling but it's not like people stopped caring about political issues. Huge numbers of ordinary people are going on marches, joining organisations and taking local action on causes they care about. We want to give everybody a political party that focuses on their concerns and lets them take the decisions."
McLaren adds: "Millions of people in the US, and elsewhere in the world, are using the internet to get more involved with organisations such as MoveOn.org. (a network of 1,700,000 online activists in the US) and the Howard Dean web campaign. The internet's a fantastic tool for giving people the chance of genuine involvement and a real say."
"Your party aims to have the biggest membership of any political party in Britain within 5 years. Joining other political parties can mean knocking on doors and delivering leaflets. With Your Party you can be an MEP in June and an MP next year and you have a say on every single issue" said Simon Morris.
Liz Morris says "As a mother with a young child, and I'm sure it's the same for every busy person, it's virtually impossible to get involved in traditional politics. I love the idea of a party where I can go online at a time that suits me and have a voice and a vote on the issues I care about."
Thompson concludes "We believe that politics should be about arriving at the best possible decisions - about how to provide great health care and how to cut crime; not about who said what when".
For more information contact: Liz Morris on 07837 137 143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes To Editors
These notes are divided into 3 sections:
A - Background statistics
B - Your Party's aims
C - Founders' biographies
A – Background statistics:
(Source: The Electoral Commission: Public Opinion and the 2004 Elections)
- June 2001 General Election – 59.4% of electorate (lowest since 1918);
- Only 24% of electorate actually voted for the Labour Party in 2001
- European Elections – turnout fell from 36.4% in 1994 to 24% in 1999; projected to fall to 19% in 2004
- GLA Elections – 33% turnout.
- Only 20% of people trust government to ‘tell the truth' (MORI)
- "This apparently accelerating trend away from participation in the institutions of democracy contrasts with what seems to be a growing tendency for people to make their voice heard through participation in various forms of direct action rather than through the ballot box." - (Electoral Commission - ‘Election 2001: the official results')
- Countryside Alliance London Rally 2003 - 407,791 protesters (Source: Police & Countryside Alliance – they operated an agreed count method.)
- Stop the War Coalition anti-war march (14/02.03)– Estimates range from 750,000 (police) to 2,000,000 (organisers)
- RSPCA Membership: 450,000 donors. (RSPCA – estimates)
- Student Fees Protesters - On 27 Oct 2003 between 10,000-31,000 protesters rallied in London against top-up fees. (N.B. the Met claim the number was 10,000 and the NUS claim it was closer to 31,000)
- Howard Dean supporters – grew from an organisation of 432 supporters to in excess of 200,000; raised $45m in campaign finance faster than any other political party in US history. (Source: www.headshift.com)
- Moveon.Org – Nationwide network of >1,700,000 online activists has contributed more than $2m to key Congressional campaigns during 2000 election.
- Philippines – 'People Power II' campaign saw hundreds of thousands of people mobilised against the former President, through an internet and SMS campaign. (Source: http://wireless.itworld.com/4273/CW_1-31-01_it/page_1.html)
- HEDRA research – 50%+ of young people would be more likely to vote if they could do so via the internet; (http://www.e-democracy.gov.uk);
- ICM research – 40% of young people would spend more time considering party policies and candidates if they could do so via the internet; (http://www.e-democracy.gov.uk)
B - Your Party's Aims:
Your Party aims to help you get involved in a way that actually results in positive change. If you've ever wanted your political representatives to listen to you, or got frustrated with the 'political system', or simply wanted to help, then Your Party is for you.
It aims to:
- Gain proper representation for you – our goal is to have the first representatives that are directly controlled by the citizens. (We are planning to put candidates forward for the European Elections in 2004.)
- Generate new ideas and solutions from informed and constructive debate. These will go to all party participants and, once approved, will be supported and promoted by Your Party.
- Involve you in the political and governmental system, and give you the information and tools to get the best out of them. Our website will develop to give you what you need - from the right number to call at your local council to the tools to create a petition to be signed by hundreds of thousands of people.
Ultimately - and we know how idealistic this sounds - we hope that by involving people in the political process we can contribute positively to society and people's lives.
C - Founders' Biographies:
Dan Thompson has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse. His career in business encompassed music (Sanctuary Music and Rhythm King Records); video and computer games (Renegade Software and Time Warner Interactive); and internet and telecoms (365 Corporation). In 2001 Dan retired from full-time business to focus on his charity and cause interests.
Rod McLaren is an artist and internet/mobile consultant. He led the product design and delivery teams at 365 Corporation and Eckoh Technologies.
Simon Morris is a businesssman with a background in media and marketing. His career has involved working for Virgin, SEGA, BSkyB, Ginger and 365 Corporation. He lives in London with his wife and 3 children.
Liz is at home looking after her 18 month old daughter and is currently studying for an Environmental Postgraduate degree. Her background is an English Literature degree from Cardiff University and 10 years UK and International marketing experience in the character licensing and interactive games businesses. She has worked for Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Time Warner Interactive & Accolade.