Labour's Jeremy Corbyn wants high speed broadband for all. Wow, original idea there
And could he be hinting at a new national ID card scheme?
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the party will not win elections using strategies from the past, as he promised to "democratise the internet" in his Digital Manifesto today.
During the unveiling of the manifesto this morning, Corbyn said the party should build on the campaign social media tactics of Democratic nomination candidate Berne Sanders.
The Labour leader hopes to harness advances in new technology in order to boost the party's political campaigning.
"The terrain on which opinions are formed is changing very, very fast," he said.
Corbyn also said he wants to "democratise the internet", explaining: "It is not fair the people living in London can enjoy 4G... where in many parts of Wales people can't even get a single bar."
A Labour briefing note regarding Corbyn's plans for a Universal Service Network said:
The maximum cost for nationwide FTTP [fibre-to-the-home] coverage is £25bn, spread over a number of years, which fits easily inside the £500bn investment commitment already announced. £13bn would provide 80 per cent coverage (Analysis Mason, “The costs of deploying next-generation fibre-optic infrastructure”, 2008). This investment could be funded at minimal cost to the taxpayer and with the most rapid deployment possible, using the National Investment Bank and relying on all-time low government borrowing costs.
The provision of a valuable national asset would produce significant returns over time, both in economic growth and additional tax revenues arising from growth, far outweighing the initial investment. Building on existing fibre-optic roll-out schemes would reduce the total costs below this headline figure, and building on current practice we would look to schedule installations where the demand was urgent, such as to existing tech clusters.
Other Corbynite plans include a Digital Citizen Passport, intended to develop a voluntary scheme that "provides British citizens with a secure and portable identity for their on-line activities." This will be used when interacting with public services like health, welfare, education and housing.
Corbyn also pledged a National Investment Bank and regional banks to help finance social enterprises whose websites and apps are designed to minimise the costs of connecting producers with consumers in the transport, accommodation, cultural, catering and other important sectors of the British economy.
Publicly funded software and hardware will be required to be released under an Open Source licence.
The Labour party also dusted off an idea previously mooted by the Lib Dems for a Digital Bill of Rights this time rebranded as the People’s Charter of Digital Liberty Rights. Corbyn said the party will launch a public consultation with people and parties across the political spectrum to draw up the document.
The release trialling the manifesto said the party plans to utilise information technologies to make popular participation in the democratic process easy and inclusive: "We will aim to organise both online and offline meetings for individuals and communities to deliberate about pressing political issues and participate in devising new legislation."
The full document has not yet been published at the time of writing. ®