Crazily, today I have been confirmed as a candidate in the race to be the next MP at the Selby and Ainsty by-election on 20 July. I’m standing as an Independent, powered by ethical AI.

My only commitment/policy is that I will use the ethical AI tech – Polis – which I have used for over two years now at the Crowd Wisdom Project, to find where people agree and then enact their instruction. I am running Polis conversations across the massive constituency on national issues, and localized Polis conversations in every large village and town. I know that the results will be that we largely agree with one another.

That’s it.

Isn’t this what a representative is meant to do? To listen, and then to represent. Today, we have the tools to listen to tens of thousands of people in their own words, yet such tools are not being deployed by the parties. The parties dominate everything, not the people.

I believe that our political system is broken. I believe that our institutions are on the decline, but I believe that the future could still be rosy for us; that all is not lost. I am optimistic, positive.

Early Democracy

Let’s remember where democracy came from: Ancient Greece. Back then, in simple terms, male Athenians – but not slaves – would listen to debates and then vote, either by using a show of hands or by depositing pebbles into a container. When the electorate is small, this makes sense. But when cities became larger, this method of democracy couldn’t work. This is how we developed the representative system.

Today, we have the tools to listen to what everyone thinks. Surely, then, power should return to the people? But it hasn’t and it won’t (with the exception of the Brexit Referendum, which I fully supported). And yet the march of technology is unstoppable. In terms of our political system, inevitably, technology will play an increasing role. It is therefore essential that the tech is transparent, immune to hostile attack and without bias. Polis is a pretty good system, used all over the world, particularly by the government in Taiwan. Yet Polis is far from perfect.

An Avoidable Tragedy

Last year, I was asked by a default 20mph pressure group to run a Polis conversation in Harrogate on this topic. We had 439 voters, who voted over 13,000 times, on ideas suggested by the good people of Harrogate. Using Polis, the AI found two very strong consensus points. I’ll talk about the key consensus point that we found.

Regardless of age, political persuasions, location of voter, etc, the overwhelming consensus in Harrogate was that people wanted 20mph zones outside of schools. Easy, Simple. Do-able. Given that I have walked my kids to school for 9 years, to a school which has a 30mph speed limit outside, it has always beggared belief to me that the limit wasn’t 20mph during school hours.

Armed with this information, I sent it to all the political parties, yet there was very little engagement. This was most surprising, for the parties knew that the policy was sensible, affordable and, more importantly for them in the run-up to an election, the policy was very popular across the board: a vote winner! But the parties know best!

Fast forward to today: in Harrogate, recently in the news, several children have been severely injured outside schools in Harrogate by speeding drivers. Very little makes me angry, but this is one of them: poor governance and poor politicking, all of which has damaged lives. Of course, I don’t know the full facts of the cases.

(For clarity, I am not standing on a default 20mph ticket, for I will be led by the consensus – a consensus which is always sensible).

As readers of my blog know, I lost my best mate to a road traffic accident (it was more like a murder). I cannot, still, talk about it without welling-up. Professionally, with inexhaustible pride, I have spent most of my career representing people injured in such accidents. Avoidable road accidents really get to me.

Even with my erratic health, I cannot do a worse job than to ignore the consensus found by the wise people of Harrogate. I am, therefore, compelled to stand, even though I don’t want to live half my life in London. If I wanted to live in London, rather than in glorious North Yorkshire, that’s what I would do now, without the stress of an election!

What can you do to help?

I’m looking for help. Help with every element of the campaign, from admin help to social media help. You can follow my new YouTube channel. I also need money, lots of money. A candidate can spend up to £100,000. Will you donate? Do you know someone, on the electoral roll in the UK, who could donate? I want to show the country that another way is possible, and better.

Although social media companies use their algorthims to exacerabate division, in the real, offline world, consensus points can be found within even the most polarized groups of people. Let me show everyone that there is more that unites us than divides us, particularly up here in North Yorkshire. Watch this space.


You need to know that this blog will very shortly move over to my election website. The blogs will remain in place: none of my writing has been sanitised. I will be emailing, through MailChimp, more frequently than I did. If this isn’t for you, please unsubscribe.