Blockchain Democracy for beginners

I went to see Leslie Riddoch a while ago. She was talking about Norway. She was telling us that Norwegians feel closer to the democratic process because they are organised in smaller units than our councils. Basically they have way more councils than us, but a pretty similar overall population.

Imagine a world where those smaller units can make real decisions for their community. We use the technology to achieve that for frivolous reasons at the moment. I can download an app and decide the fate of a celebrity in a house in North London and I can pretty much guarantee a fair vote with an app because it’ll only let you vote once. That’s because we have a digital ID as a subscriber to that app.

If you take that concept and create a digital ID for everyone, you can ask the people anything you want. How much more democratic can you be?

But it will get hacked, I hear you say. We all fear technology a little. That’s healthy. It has the power to overwhelm us if we don’t control it. I can’t help feeling that I have major reservations about paper, if that’s how this works. Can I say that, paper elections are extremely easily corrupted. I know what happens if I ever try to subvert a network in an office. A well secured network, one person, one vote is so simple to understand if you have control. If you have a network security manager.

I envisage a world where the council propose selling off a park for development. A community group arrange a Blockchain secure network vote, so that the whole community can decide. Give them a week possibly to vote. That’s Democracy from below. We don’t need to do Democracy from above. If the council make their case, the community can vote for or against them. Take that to National Election level and you have a properly democratic process.

I hear so many people say I’m bored with politics, but then you get talking to them. It nearly always turns out that they are extremely interested in politics when they realise that politics is just decisions being made on their behalf, either for their benefit or otherwise. Turns out it’s politicians that they don’t like. Who’d a thunk it?

So do we need them, if we can make the decisions? Well we still need opinion formers, so there is a job there. Someone has to attempt to get the people to follow their agenda. That’s what politics is isn’t it. There is definitely a place for those kind of people and once communities become involved you’ll start to see a more representative democracy. We don’t need the kind of people who represent us now, because we can do it.

That technology is there already. If you have a bus pass, you have a digital ID. As soon as everyone has that digital ID, the world is democracy’s oyster, if we control it. I understand the fear of technology completely. The modern world gets scarier by the minute if you don’t control it, but we can do that with technology that is already in use everywhere, including for the frivolous reasons mentioned earlier.

The Scottish Government are actively investigating #BlockchainDemocracy. This is going to happen folks. It’s very important that the people control it. If that happens it can only be good for ordinary people.

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My Bins

So here we go with a blog posting about that most mundane of things. My bin collections.

I like to think of myself as quite green and generally I will enthusiastically support all efforts to recycle. I’ve lived for the last few years in Oxford and I watched the levels of recycling grow through good policy.

When I first arrived in Oxford we had loads of different bins and bags for recycling and composting. When you give people so many options they will invariably get confused and not bother. Add to that, that among us are people who just don’t get things. I remember well the conversation with a housemate, Rasha, where I asked why she put her banana skin in the bin and not the composter. She replied that it wasn’t green, it was yellow, so she couldn’t put it in the green waste bin. 

Oxford City Council proposed fortnightly bin collections, to the disgust of the North Oxford Ladies, who are always available as a rent a gob on BBC Oxford. In exchange, the weeks between would be for recycling. Just one bin for everything. No need to sort stuff, with all the risk of getting it wrong taken away. Within weeks there was more recycling happening. Make it easy and people will do it. The North Oxford Ladies fell silent in their Range Rovers.

So to Lanarkshire, where I now live.

I moved into a flat. I fully expected that Lanarkshire would be similar to Oxford. I expected to recycle.

My neighbours told me that the bin collections were intermittent. I didn’t believe them. The councils website said that it was every 2 weeks. I didn’t even have a bin when I arrived. My neighbours told me that we didn’t have to recycle because we lived in flats and didn’t have the space for all the bins involved. I got a bin and my neighbours filled it for me.

On an aside, can someone tell me how difficult it is to crush plastic bottles? I found 15 2 litre Coke bottles in my bin a few weeks ago. Uncrushed. Filling the bin. Crushing stuff is somewhat satisfying. You should try it. Reduce that volume please.

There are 8 flats bins in our wee courtyard area. Pretty sure I’ve taken them all out for the binmen more than all my neighbours put together and a few weeks ago I put them all out for collection the following morning. I went off for a weekend near Loch Lomond. When I got back the bins had not been collected. I thought I’d got the week wrong. Friday came and went. Even if I got the week wrong I was now certain that they hadn’t been collected.

I checked the council website and found that we’d been moved to a Tuesday collection. We were due to be collected on the following Tuesday. Tuesday came and went. I emailed everything above, somewhat more concisely, to the council. They replied promising a collection.

The bins were collected.

Now the problem here as I see it twofold. Firstly, I received no communication about the changeover. I can cope with all sorts of things with forewarning. Secondly, if this doesn’t make the act of recycling easier, and thus boost the levels of recycling, then we will all have suffered for nothing.

So North Lanarkshire Council, please do me a favour and give me an easy recycling system that works. Take the effort away. And in the name of the wee man, please communicate with me.

Update

A few days ago 6 recycling bins arrived. There was no communication with us about what they were for. As a result they’ve sat out on the grass outside the flats. They are killing the grass no doubt.

I went home for lunch today. Today was bin day. I’d even checked on the North Lanarkshire Council website. The bins hadn’t been collected. As I ate my lunch I heard the sounds of binmen and rushed out onto my balcony to talk to them. They hadn’t come to collect the bins. They’d come to collect recycling from the unused bins currently killing the grass.

I shouted down to them and was told that we shouldn’t have recycling bins anyway because we live in flats. They said the office staff were hiding under their desks as North Lanarkshire residents point out what a shambles the bin collections have been recently. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if my bins have been collected today. I’ll find out later.

Maudlin near Motherwell

Came home tonight to a cold flat. 

Heating on.

Feel knackered.

Long long day yesterday.

Drove hundreds of miles for a 25 minute meeting.

A few hours of comfyness and sleep. Bliss.

Then a 5am alarm call.

Add to that my teeth.

Serious dental stuff going on.

Finally I bite the bullet.

Or at least I would if my teeth could hack it.

I live with a dull ache.

This will be the case until Christmas.

So feeling maudlin near Motherwell, Bellshill to be exact.

*Mopes off to bed*

Night night

Uddingston & Bellshill SNP – Branch AGM

So here we are hurtling towards the AGM of my branch of the SNP. This is an opportunity to move forward because we are a broad church with numerous talented individuals. Hopefully I fall into the bracket of talented individuals, because I’m standing for election again.

I promised that I would challenge Marina Lyle for the position of Organiser, and that’s what I’m going to do. All my challenges and requests for a UK General Election postmortum on how we performed in Coatbridge Chryston & Bellshill constituency have fallen on deaf ears. I’ve been stymied, which leaves me no option but to challenge the person who should have given me direction at that Election. It gives me no pleasure to have to do this.

What interests me more is how we move forward after the AGM. As mentioned, we are a broad church with diverse opinion across the branch. We must therefore concentrate on what unites us. I am tired of the bickering, but nothing will perk me up more than a constructive recognition that there is more that unites us than divides us.

Whatever happens at the AGM, I will work with everyone elected into a post for the betterment of our cause, even if I’m not one of them. I wish the best of luck to everyone standing. The very act of standing for election shows that you care and are prepared to give up your time for that cause that unites us. Let’s make Uddingston & Bellshill SNP a shining light for the cause of an Independent Scotland. 

The Yes Movement – Emphasis On Our Differences Is Not The Way To Win 

I’ve been reading, over the last few days, about the divisions within the Yes Movement. I’ve found it a little depressing, mostly because what unites us is way more important and we can’t really start to decide on what we want an independent Scotland to look like until we’ve achieved independence.

I’m proud to call myself a socialist, and ultimately I have my idea of what I want an independent Scotland to be like. At the same time I fully appreciate that a belief in independence isn’t the sole preserve of lefties like me. I can see no reason why a belief in pure, free market capitalism shouldn’t be combined with a belief in an independent Scotland and I’m certain that there are people out there that feel that way. My point is that the Yes Movement is, and should be, a very broad church of opinion. The direction we take after achieving a majority Yes vote is for us to decide as a nation through the ballot box. There is little point dwelling on these differences until we achieve that Yes vote.

I’m involved in the Yes Bellshill & Mossend group. I’m also a member of the SNP. These things are not the same.

I want to appeal to the broadest range of people, of whatever political hue, to get involved. I think that’s the only way we can win. If you believe in Scottish Independence, then we can work together to achieve that. This is ultimately a single issue, even if it affects all other issues that we face in Scotland, so I’d like to appeal to anyone who believes or who wants to believe, to join your local Yes Group. I, for one, will be working to make my local group as open and welcoming to all as it can possibly be. I have no desire to alienate anyone.

Join us. If you’re not convinced yet, talk to us. We can give you the information you need to make an informed choice for Yes.