The right climate?

Andrew Collinge has a really good post over on the LGIU blog. He’s picking up on an also-good post by Matthew Taylor of the RSA. 

I don’t have anything to say that engages with it directly, only to add something that I mentioned in a post a while ago over on the Liberal Conspiracy site about civic energy. It probably breaks every rule about humility and blogging (is it wrong to quote yourself writing elsewhere?), but here are the relevant paras:

Paraphrasing Tim Garton-Ash a while ago, when politicians were able to win elections and start the process of government, they often exhibited what Machiavelli called virtù – the capacity for collective action and historical vitality. It is politics – the whole reviled shebang – strong yet fractious political parties, that are the engine of that vitality.

Referendums remove that capacity at a stroke. If you are looking for an explanation for illiberalism – for the promotion of a bureaucratic / policing agenda – look no further than a Parliament along with local and regional assemblies that have had the virtùsucked out of them by the constant imperative to consult with stakeholders, negotiate with veto-wielding vested interests, disruptive agenda-led newspapers, opinion-polls, well-heeled pressure groups, bureaucrats and managerialists.

The nature of democracy makes a huge difference to the options that policymakers can exercise.


Should politicians blog?

Nicolo Machiavelli - a bit sceptical about all of this candour business

Niccolò Machiavelli - a bit sceptical about all of this 'candour' business

Shorter version: If you’re a politician, it may be a good idea to get into blogging. But do it under a pen-name! It’s safer that way, and it will make you better at your job.

This is an old-ish question nowadays. And as the big question around social media at the moment is ‘should everyone Twitter‘, I think it may be a good time to revisit the question of blogging – now that the one-note evangelism for the medium has died down.

I’m not convinced that most politicians should set up an official blog of their own, or formally blog in their own name. Annoyingly, this is not a common view. Daniel Hannan, a UK Conservative Party MEP says it’s a good idea.

The inestimable Shane McCracken of Gallomanor also thinks they should – indeed, he goes further and asks if leaders should blog (three different times – here, here and here).

Though my own conclusions are slightly different, I’ve been helping a few councillors to have a crack at it recently, and I suspect that a few of them will emerge from it very well.

Former Lewisham Councillor, Andrew Brown picked up (a while ago now) on a Centre for Policy Studies paper on how the internet is changing politics, and how it skews some biases that may already be there in terms of activism and influence. Continue reading