Let me talk politics

Let me talk politics

If, for whatever reason, you have done some digging on me you will have discovered a dark secret. Well, not quite a secret as I do not hide it, nor is it that dark, more of a information non publiée.

I am involved in local politics, and my political party is the Tories.

There, I have said it. I have come out of the closet. I have admitted it. I can now wander around the Free Software Magazine pages without hiding my true nature. I am free!

The reason for me being a supporter of the Tories are outside my writing obligations for Free Software Magazine. So, I will not bore you with my political dogma and ideologies. However, today I am feeling happy, for very much to my surprise there is a BBC report stating Tories want to open source Whitehall.

I would argue that whatever your political colour is, this is good news. The more awareness of the free software issues the better, and for any political party of that stature this is even more so. For senior politicians to understand the benefits of free software also means they understand the attacks from unethical closed software companies and know not to be duped by them.

The fact this has happened is surprising to me. I was somehow invited to a “do" involving senior members of the party in 2003 and I managed to corner some of them for a while. When I mentioned “Open Source for IT" then the replies I got were in the form of “Open what?" or “What is IT" or “Yes I understand, leave me your card and I will get back...", which they never did. IT and computers are not the traditional areas of expertise of Tories. Remember, this is the party of Margaret Thatcher.

I suppose the old move on and the new move in, and it is good to see the current lot are free software advocates. I find this to be brilliant news and amazing. I would never have suspected it. A cynic would say they are saying this to try and drum up popularity. However, my reply to that is if this concept either drums up or is considered to drum up votes then so much the better for free software. As my daughter would say, “Woo-Hoo!". If other political parties jump on the bandwagon, then that would be fantastic. Unfortunately, it does not look as though Tony Blair's lot will any time soon though.

It is just a shame the Tories' announcement of this is overshadowed by a report that a Tory front-bencher has been sacked due to “unacceptable comments about race in the army". Ah well, such is the behavior of politicians and the media...

UPDATE: The Conservatives, naturally, have a link on their site. It is here.



Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

It is rather interesting that software philosophy is eventually a distinguishing trait.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

..I think we're going somewhere. Don't understand me wrong, I'm on the same spot of the political spectrum as you are, but I also know their fascination with corporate products and free enterprise. A highly successful company like MS appeals to them on an almost emotional level. Still, bad products are bad products. When they are able to overcome these emotions by simply looking at the facts (pun intended) we've made a significant victory.

Hans Bezemer

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Coming out of the closet is a traditional Tory pastime.

I've been using Linux for eight years, contribute to several open source projects and am a British National Party member.


twenex's picture
Submitted by twenex on

...whether they will remember that in the face of pressure from Microsoft when they are in office.

Remember the 1997 Labour slogan "Things can only get better"? Given their kowtowing to big business and American imperialism, their opposition to civil liberties since they took office - not to mention the "cash for peerages affair", or my memories of Tory government - I'm not exactly hopeful the Tories will be any better.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

usually Left wing parties and advocates are the main users of free software(not open source in general but free as in freedom software), not by a rule, so anyone is welcome to use it.


Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

..certainly 1 Tory MP, 1 Labour MP and 1 Lib Dem MP have all been asking about open source in parliament (and being fobbed off with nonsense about 'best value' being why it's hardly used), the lib dem MP was asking back in 2004, the Tory MP has been busy asking questions about why the government isn't following the guidelines of various reports produced for the government, and the labour MP has been doing the same.

The novelty here is that it's not an obscure backbencher this time.

guydjohnston's picture

While any increase in the number of users of free (as in freedom) software is good for the free software community, the Conservatives haven't mentioned freedom as a benefit of using free software at any point here. The only benefit they're talking about is cutting the cost of getting hold of the software. If people are oblivious to the ideals of software freedom, they're not likely to stay with the community, as they can easily be tempted back to proprietary software if it can offer them a technical advantage, or it has a lower 'total cost of ownership'. I'm hoping that one of the major political parties in the UK will talk about software freedom at some point in the near future. I think the Green party might do a bit, but they have nowhere near as much influence as the Conservatives, and as far as I know they don't have a single seat in the House of Commons.

GNU - free as in freedom

Author information

Edward Macnaghten's picture


Edward Macnaghten has been a professional programmer, analyst and consultant for in excess of 20 years. His experiences include manufacturing commercially based software for a number of industries in a variety of different technical environments in Europe, Asia and the USA. He is currently running an IT consultancy specialising in free software solutions based in Cambridge UK. He also maintains his own web site.