Blog moved!

It seems that a re-direct I set up ages ago has lapsed and some of you that have been using the old https://localdemocracy.wordpress.com link are seeing the old design again?

Well we’ve moved! (About six months ago!). We’re here now: http://blog.localdemocracy.org.uk

Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds accordingly?

Twitter and conversational politics

twitter-logoHere’s Jonathan Fryer, a Lib-Dem blogger on the way that Twitter can change conversational dynamics and add something new to politics:

I’ve been finding it hugely useful in recent weeks and have noted how one can enter into dialogue with politicians of other parties as well as with journalists and bloggers of all persuasions, who are quite happy to ‘follow’ one on Twitter, but who might not wish to ask or accept to be one’s Facebook ‘friend’, in case that were seen to be some kind of endorsement. And the same is true in the other direction! Moreover, the 140-character limit, while being constraining, is actually a very useful discipline…

PICamp will be part of Reboot Britain

reboot_logoOver the next few weeks, this site will carry a number of posts outlining some of the themes that will come up in the Political Innovation Camp (PICamp) strand of NESTA’s Reboot Britain event, taking place on the 6th July 2009 in central London.

I’m hoping that the event will cover a wide range of themes, ranging from 

  • how we can take Tim Davies ’50 hurdles’ idea and look at ways that public organisations of all kinds can be encouraged to address them
  • what will policymaking look like in the future?
  • how ‘hyperlocal’ communities work – how local government can interface with them and whether they are always a good thing in the first place
  • defending inactive citizens from the activists
  • reinstating the claim of local government to be the main agent in solving local problems

Nothing is final yet, and all of these (and more) will be fleshed out in the coming weeks over on the PICamp site.

In the meantime, make sure you don’t miss out. Tickets are here.

An offer to political parties

ballot boxBoth Labour and the Conservatives have moved to take away the whip – and effectively deselect – MPs that have offended public morality with their expense claims.

But is this really enough? Are we simply to be satisfied that a few examples are made of the most egregious cases of an abuse of parliamentary expenses and leave it at that?

Or is there a wider crisis the the quality of representation that needs addressing?

I think that this provides us with a fantastic opportunity to renew the entire political class in the UK. It is time for us to think about how we can reinvigorate widespread participation in political parties – old and new. For this reason, I’d like to propose that we – the voters – offer the political parties a new deal. It runs like this:

“We will double the membership of the local party that we support – but only if they will let us re-select our candidate.”

I’ve outlined how I think this can work on a new website – www.reselect.org and I would urge you to do anything you can to promote this initiative. Continue reading

Viral visualisations

 A while ago, I highlighted a visualisation that helped to explain a policy issue. The upside was that it was plainly something that enhanced to quality of public conversation because it was a beautiful design. The downside was that it was in Spanish – largely a closed book to me.

Here’s a new one – a viral visual from this site – that offers a sense of proportion about water. 

watersupply

Helping people to visualise problems – so much more valuable than encouraging people to give you their opinions, don’t you think?

Cllr David Cameron, MEP

The Conservatives have given up all pretence that the local and European Parliament elections are about local government or Europe. Instead, they are campaigning on Gordon Brown, the NHS and the fiscal position, none of which are in the control of local government or Europe. Here’s David Cameron (quoted on the BBC):

With every Conservative vote, the message will be simple, Enough is enough – you’re the past. With every day that passes, this government is running our country into the ground.

Borrowing eye-watering amounts of money, presiding over social decline, letting our politics descend into the quagmire – I promise you this, they cannot go on forever.

Change in our country will come. And we can make that glorious day of change arrive all the sooner if on 4 June you give this weak, useless and spineless government a message it wont forget.

Who cares about councillors’ or MEPs’ accountability, anyway?

You need to learn how to use your computer

Go on! Tell your boss to install Open Office and that you're not going to help.

Go on! Tell your boss to install Open Office and that you're not going to help.

If you read this blog, you must know a few influential people? Maybe they’ve been elected, or have some official role that is, in reality, more powerful than someone who has been elected?

Would they be the sort of person who would get someone else to do anything vaguely complicated with a PC? Do they regard their desktop computer as a necessary tool – but not something that they really should understand?

The BBC’s ever-perceptive Bill Thompson thinks that they need to find their inner geek:

It’s almost 50 years since the writer CP Snow gave his famous lecture about the ‘two cultures’ at Cambridge University, where he outlined the dangers that come from the lack of understanding between literary intellectuals and the scientific community.

Today things don’t seem as bad, and there is clearly a much greater awareness of and interest in popular science. Unfortunately a new divide has opened up, that between those of us who know enough about our computers to look under the bonnet from time to time and those who use them without any real curiosity or awareness.

The results could be far worse than being ripped off by unscrupulous engineers who offer them unnecessary upgrades, because these digital tools will increasingly shape society.

Earlier in the same post, he has this observation: Continue reading