Denny de la Haye
Campaign website: http://getavote.org
Prototype / demo 'direct digital democracy' website: http://hackneysouth.org.uk
YourNextMP entry: http://www.yournextmp.com/candidates/denny_de_la_haye
Responses to questions from Niki di Palma
[Below] are the responses to the e-mail I sent earlier today. Mr de la Haye replied very quickly and gave, as you will see, full responses.
Dear Prospective Member of Parliament for Hackney South and Shoreditch,
I am a resident of the constituency and feel that this election needs to be fought on issues rather than on party political lines.
Glad to hear it! As an independent candidate running on a platform of 'let people vote on the issues', that's the best thing I could possibly hope to hear from people living in this area.
I will therefore be deciding on who I will be voting for (regardless of political party) by considering the responses I get from the questions below. All these things are personally important to me and many are issues that are, or should be important to the majority of the voting public.
I look forward to receiving your response in good time.
I have to start out by explaining that my manifesto/platform is really quite unusual. As I said above, I'm proposing to let people in Hackney South and Shoreditch vote on each and every single issue as it comes up in Parliament - and I will vote how they people tell me to vote. I'm calling this 'direct digital democracy' (because it will mostly work through online polls).
Now, on the one hand this means in many cases I can't give a simple yes/no answer to your questions below, because my answer is "I will vote how the people in this area tell me to vote". On the other hand, this offers you, and other politically-engaged people, the opportunity to elect a candidate who will actually listen to you - more than that, who will actually do as the majority tell them to do!
I myself have been a political campaigner on various issues over the years, and I've been frustrated by the way politicians only pay lip service (or no service at all!) to the concept that they should represent the people in their area. Party whips and corrupt lobbying has left us with a politics that ignores its people. My manifesto proposes a simple way to fix this, by putting the power back in the hands of the people. I hope that as a politically-engaged person yourself, you'll see a lot of value to this approach.
You can read more about my election campaign at http://getavote.org - and you can see a demo of how 'direct digital democracy' might work at http://hackneysouth.org.uk - please do create an account and add the issues you care about! Some of them are already on there, so once you've created an account you can vote on those too. Invite your friends too, especially those who live in this area.
Now, I'll give you some answers to your questions below based on my personal views - but remember that in most cases it's people like you who will decide my vote on each issue - not me.
1. Will you be working to ensure electoral reform is put in place to ensure that every vote counts through proportional representation?
Clearly with my platform, I strongly believe that we urgently need political reform. Voter apathy isn't surprising when people are powerless to affect politics - why vote when it changes nothing? I am strongly in favour of some form of electoral reform, along with many other political reforms to make politics more participatory, more transparent, and more accountable.
2. Will you ensure that political, personal, social and economic interests are secondary to any decision that seeks to halt climate change?
Personally, I believe that man-made climate change is very likely to be real, and it scares me. I'm pretty sure we should be trying to fix it whether it's real or not, because the consequences of being wrong one way are financial, and the other way - fatal.
In practise, although I would vote as told on this issue, I think that public awareness of climate change is already strong and is growing stronger - the opposition seems to be mainly from big business, and they don't get a vote on my site. I strongly suspect that public votes for stronger action on climate change would do well in practise.
3. Do you agree that whaling, in any form - whether controlled or otherwise, should never be re-introduced and that in addition, the law should be fully enforced?
Personally, yes. Killing members of any near-extinct species is contemptible.
Again, I hope that this is an issue on which the public conscience is fairly clear too.
4. Do you think that government should fund faith schools?
Personally, no. But I'm not religious. If you are religious, I imagine non-religious people seem tragically mistaken at best, and determinedly insane at worst.
I'd be interested to see how the public vote went on this one - I think religion is losing followers as a new generation grows up, but that might just be the impression I get from my own friendship group, which is obviously a self-selecting sample to some extent.
5. Should publicly funded faith schools be allowed to discriminate in their admissions and employment?
It doesn't seem right to me, no. Again, I'd be interested to see what the public vote was.
6. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
Personally I'd hate to see creationism being taught in science lessons, but obviously it should be taught in religious studies. I seem to recall religious studies was compulsory when I was at school, I'm not sure if that's right either... although learning about other religions is probably good for people, so maybe it should be compulsory as long as stays firmly multi-faith - or maybe it should be wrapped into 'citizenry' lessons of some sort.
7. How would you vote on assisted dying for the terminally ill?
As I was told, obviously :) My personal feeling is that it should be allowed, but we'd have to be incredibly careful about how the law was phrased to prevent it being used as a cover for murder or something.
8. Should anti-discrimination and equality legislation make religious groups exempt from regulations that other organisations would have to follow?
9. Should religious leaders have privileged access to decision makers?
Ooh, interesting question. I think maybe 'yes' actually? Not on the grounds that they're religious leaders, but on the grounds that they're 'leaders'. People who can influence large groups of people probably should have some form of high(er)-level access to advise government. The same reasoning applies to union leaders, etc. They could be a helpful guide to how a chunk of the populace may feel on an issue.
However... if you implement an increasingly direct method for each and every citizen to guide governmental policy (my platform, obviously!), then those 'leaders' become less important, and their need for or right to 'higher-level' access might well become less relevant too.
10. Would you vote to retain or remove bishops from the house of Lords?
Again, I'd vote as I was told. However, I'm not sure what my personal feeling on the issue is. I'm quite keen on the idea of the Lords being reformed, but not sure what new form would be best - elected seems open to the same populist problems as the Commons. If you were selecting by professions or 'segments of society' then presumably there could be a place for at least one representative of the largest religious organisations.
11. Do you support the use of public funds to provide unproven alternative ‘treatments’ such as homeopathy?
Personally, no. Use public funds to research them, by all means - they need researching, in case they work. Until such research proves that they work, they're not treatments - they're placebos at best, and dangerous at worst.
12. Should Sharia Law be allowed as an alternative system within UK law?
I've read nothing detailed about Sharia law, but it seems to me that having two competing systems of law in one country wouldn't work. You'd end up with a victim in one system being guilty in another, and that's going to be unresolvable.
13. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger ’public interest’ defense?
Personally, yes. I'd vote as told, but I hope people would vote for free speech once the issue was explained.
14. Would you do everything in your power to ensure the BBC maintains its position as the world leader in public broadcasting, including ensuring that BBC6Music and the Asian Network are maintained?
Again, I'll vote as told. I personally don't listen to any of the BBC's radio stations, nor do I watch television, but I do think the BBC is massively important, not least in supplying a service to otherwise unserved sectors. If anything, I can see more of a case for scrapping Radio 1 - there are already plenty of commercial channels playing chart music with 'personality' DJs.
15. Do you agree that all decisions taken concerning British, European and Worldwide fishing should ensure the recovery of fish populations and more importantly, the ocean environments, before any political, social or economic interests?
Personally I'm quite concerned about sustainability, so yes. I would vote as told, and I'm not sure how well informed the populace is on this issue - I'd be keen to help them become better-informed before they voted (this would be one of the features of my proposed system - lots of information resources for people to read, and the ability to change their vote if they change their mind after reading them).
16. Would you support the members of the Drugs advisory committee and act on their advice, as is their role?
I'm all in favour of evidence-based policy rather than policy-based evidence. I think the public understanding of this particular issue might be more sophisticated than government policy has been to date.
17. What would you do to ensure the Hackney Empire is re-opened urgently and again provides a rich variety of live entertainment for the residents of Hackney and beyond?
I'm not sure what an MP can do to ensure that, but if it's an issue people raise as a priority on the website then I'll pursue it by whatever means are open to me.
18. Your views on the current digital economy bill would be appreciated
I'm furious about it. I was at the demo a couple of weeks ago, and I'm a paid-up member of both ORG and PPUK (but not a PPUK candidate, as I believe the political system needs fixing before we can pursue other issues).
I look forward with eager anticipation to your reply.
I hope it doesn't seem too evasive with all the 'personally' stuff. Unfortunately the nature of my platform makes it hard for me to give straight-forward answers about what I'll do in practise - but as I say, it offers a previously unseen opportunity for single-issue campaigners and other politically engaged people to guide and shape policy.
-- Independent candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch
W: http://getavote.org E: firstname.lastname@example.org M: 078 1515 0811