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Tories swallow Web 2.0, spit out £1m crowdsource prize

Golden goose lays egg

The Tories are waving a £1m taxpayer-funded crowdsourcing prize under the noses of developers to produce a website that can "harness the wisdom" of voters to "resolve difficult policy challenges".

According to shadow culture secretary and ex-tech PR man Jeremy Hunt, the prize money would be paid for out of Cabinet Office coffers, assuming - that is - the Tories win next year's General Election.

"This online platform will then be used by a future Conservative government to throw open the policy making process to the public, and harness the wisdom of the crowd so that the public can collaborate to improve government policy," he claimed.

Hunt said a Tory government would publish all UK.gov Green Papers on the platform, allowing everyone to wax lyrical online to help shape policy.

“Conservatives believe that the collective wisdom of the British people is much greater than that of a bunch of politicians or so-called experts," said Hunt. "And new technology now allows us to harness that wisdom like never before."

The Tories said the winning website should deliver an effective service for the public to post their ideas on as well as being what the party described as "a truly beneficial outcome for it to be worthy of the £1m payout".

It will only pay out the cash if an appropriate site is produced that tackles issues. Some crowd-pleasing ideas suggested by the Conservative Party included scrutinising government spending, rating the quality of schools and hospitals, finding a route around road works and, er, picking the England football squad for the World Cup.

"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 policy-making process we could have avoided some of these problems," Hunt said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday.

"What we are trying to find is: is there a way that we can use the internet - it's a means to an end not an end in itself - to try and avoid some of these howlers so a future Conservative government can not just have good policy ideas but execute policy in a much more considered and thought-through way." ®

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