Labour engaging on digital and tech policy – join the action at conference in Manchester

by Jag Singh

Guy Levin of Coadec says we are now catching up with the Tories when it comes to digital campaigning and technology policy, and that the party should be applauded for taking on the task of transforming itself into a relevant digital movement, with progressive policies and initiatives to match.

Our own Digital Government Review (led by Chi Onwurah MP) will no-doubt feed great ideas and assist Ed and his team put together a compelling manifesto for the 2015 election, encompassing technology and digital policy to not just save money and create jobs, but also reduce the digital divide. We’ll then also have to make sure ideas are followed through, once we get into Government.
Key public policy issues have in the past all enjoyed dedicated zones at the party conferences, with delegates and politicians flocking to hear about the latest advances and discuss hot issues. We’ve seen this for years with Transport Hub, the Health Hotel and the Climate Clinic, but going forward into the next general election, only Labour can be the party that examines how Whitehall policies and regulations keep up in such a fast moving technological world, while also ensuring the disadvantaged don’t lose out on opportunities in the new economy. It’s long overdue that there was such a public forum at annual conference to bridge the gap between the tech and political worlds.


That new forum is TechCentral – a dedicated space within the secure zone at Labour’s conference in Manchester this year, where our shadow ministers, activists, experts and representatives from some of the biggest tech firms in the country will engage and debate the UK’s future technology and digital policy agenda, and to more effectively communicate the needs and challenges facing the industry.

TechCentral has secured key partnerships with Facebook, Microsoft, EE, and TalkTalk. While technology and digital companies will make up a large proportion of the sessions at TechCentral, non-profits have certainly not been left out in the cold, with Labour Digital, the COADEC (Coalition for a Digital Economy), and the Don’t Spy on Us coalition, all hosting panel and Q&A sessions. The agenda also includes coding tutorials, social media training, and discussions on the digital impact of business, to name but a few.

Labour Uncut is the media partner for TechCentral at Labour Conference a small number of opportunities for tech-related organisations interested in promoting a tech/digital agenda or holding their fringe sessions within TechCentral are still available. For more information about TechCentral, including partnership opportunities and the current schedule, email or call 020 7340 6042 or visit

Jag Singh is a digital strategist and Labour activist. He was the founder of LabourHome, has advised US Presidential and primary campaigns on digital/tech campaigning and is currently a partner in an investment firm working with early-stage ‘high-tech’ startups.

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11 Responses to “Labour engaging on digital and tech policy – join the action at conference in Manchester”

  1. Madasafish says:

    The cost of a failed IT system for the NHS, which was abandoned two years ago, is still rising and could reach £10bn, according to a report by MPs.

    The Public Accounts Committee described the attempt to upgrade NHS computer systems as one of the “worst and most expensive contracting fiascos” in public sector history.

    And then the author states.. “only Labour can be the party that examines how Whitehall policies and regulations keep up in such a fast moving technological world,”

    I take it that this article is a late April 1st joke.. If so, it’s in poor taste..

    If I were the Labour Party, I would not mention the Party’s prowess in IT systems.. it does not exist based on performance when spending money.

  2. Derek Emery says:

    I flatly refuse to believe that politicians of any description or political persuasion were, are, or ever will be competent at technology. As for IT systems – best to say nothing rather than be cruel about endless failures.

  3. emmet says:

    What a load of waffle saying nothing of substance.

  4. swatantra says:

    Whatever happened to Labourhome, and Labour Uncut?

  5. Major Plonquer says:

    Greetings from someone at the cutting edge of modern technology. Frankly, I don’t know anyone in our industry who would even consider for one moment voting for Labour. Last time you were in power you trashed our economy. You don’t even know how to use Excel.

    You are what we in the industry call users. Stick to Tweeting your Facebook and keep well TF out of our way.

  6. Baljit says:


    Labour and Sikhism are incompatible. Sikhism is about people doing their best and helping those less fortunate than themselves. The Modern Labour party is about professional politicians getting elected and apparatchiks helping them for favours.

    “The way to true yoga is found by dwelling in God and remaining detached in the midst of worldly attachments.” (Guru Nanak, Suhi)

    “The world is in agony because of the filth of ego, the word is filthy because of duality; The filth of ego cannot be washed away, even if one bathes at one hundred holy places.” (Guru Amar Das, Sri Raga) How does this sit with the inept Ed Miliband’s behaviour, the fixation with power and knowing that if he is elected investment will fall the economy will shrink due to a reduction in confidence and the Labour parties complete lack of knowledge of business?

    Sikhism rejects all distinctions of caste, creed, race or sex. “All are created from the seed of God. There is the same clay in the whole world, the potter (God) makes many kinds of pots.” (Guru Amar Das, Bhairo). “Recognise the light (of God) and do not ask for the caste, There is no caste in the next world.” (Guru Nanak, Asa). Based on this how do you reconcile the Labour parties pathological hatred of Tories and waging of class war?

    Seva, community service is also an intergral part of Sikhism. The free community kitchen (langar) found at every gurdwara and open to people of all religions is one expression of this community service. It relies on the better off giving for the benefit of those worse off. Labout teaches community disharmony, by teaching those who have nothing to despise those who have. Labour divides people.

    Singh, get a life and wake up.

  7. swatantra says:

    Incidently there’s a new Hindu Temple being launched in Kingsbury on Tuesday.
    Very similar in opulance to the Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden just down the road.
    Visited it today and saw them putting the finishing touches to the Grand Opening.
    Labour is compatible with many religions like hinduism and sikhism and methodists and quakers and baptists and one or two others I may have omitted.

  8. Jag Singh says:

    Ah, some of the commenter names sound familiar — I remember so many of you from Labourhome!

    @Madasafish – yes, I agree. It’s because the party didn’t understand tech. I’ll give you a further example, we actually missed a trick and could have actually been the government that introduced the Government Digital Service (started 2011, the US Govt just this week announced they were replicating the model). Martha Lane Fox was brought in as a Digital Czar in 2009, under Gordon Brown, and tried her best to drive the conversation toward making government more efficient, and actually have the government reaching out to people using digital tools and tech. We didn’t really have anyone empowered enough within the party or government to facilitate those sorts of conversations. Fast forward to 2010, and within a month of the coalition being formed they’d expanded the scope of MLF’s gig and given her access to ministers, important reviews. She then came up with the review document that underpinned the GDS’ formation. We could have had the GDS (and of course, taken credit for it) in 2008, 2009, 2010, but we didn’t. There are dozens more examples (remember the Central Office of Information? We’d been asking for it to be shut down for years, and the coalition did it because they listened to some of us. I wish Labour had listened, but I can’t really go back in time). That’s why I want TechCentral to help the party understand how to think about digital and tech, and be exposed to the ideas and people who’ll be speaking at the panels and events.

    @Derek – you’re right, most of the politicians I meet are pretty shit at tech. The ones that scare me are the ones who then pretend to ‘get’ it, and don’t bring in real expertise from outside when push comes to shove. TechCentral is my way of making sure the industry and politicos come face-to-face.

    @Swatantra – We sold it to the New Statesman, they didn’t really do anything meaningful with it, and it was sold back to Alex Hilton, who passed it on to a friend of his and it’s been dead for years now.

    @Major Plonquer – some of us have root access. I’m trying to get the ‘users’ to up their game.

    @Baljit – wow. I don’t like how Labour positions itself on a lot of things, either. But thanks.

  9. Derek Emery says:

    Jag Singh
    You are going against centuries of being poor at science and technology and government culture. I can’t find the report now but in the mid to late 1800s the same problems in government with coping with science and technology and technological education were virtually identical to today.

    Obviously technology has moved on a bit but the culture of government has not and cannot.

    UK government was fully prepared to fail at IT systems long before they were invented. All IT systems did was created a novel way for government failure.

    You cannot change the culture in government which stretches though the political class and includes civil servants and has existed for centuries. Why do you think top industrialists invited to get involved walk away after a short while shaking their heads?

    TSR2 and Blue Streak were failures many decades ago. Every government has created new projects to fail at and that has not changed or is ever likely to before the sun becomes a red giant.

    See “Why do government projects fail so often”
    See “Twenty Five Years of Government IT Project Failure

    Long after we are all dead and buried government will be failing at new projects in exactly the same ways and for exactly the same reasons as many many decades ago. Every new government has the right to fail – it’s a way of life.

    The only way to change this would be for there to be experts who actually know what they are doing in high government positions of real power
    It would be very bad news for the waffle merchants who are quick at detecting a risk to their survival. There is no way they will allow people who know what they are doing to be given positions of power. What’s then left for them?

  10. Madasafish says:

    Jag Singh
    Thanks for the response. Fascinating.

    I am afraid that politicians often fail to recognise their need to rely on experts as they cannot be expert in anything (apart from politics.. and then I sometimes wonder).

  11. Tafia says:

    Until you get a government with enough commercial experience and competence to negotiate contracts with enforceable deadlines and no cancellation fees then you will continue to get the farcical scenes we have seen over US firm Raytheon and the cancelled e-borders contract that was behind schedule and wasn’t working technology-wise.

    Hands-up which Home Secretary oversaw the negotiating of that particular contract? Was either Charles Clarke or Jacqui Smith. Either way, both Labour I believe

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