Passive democracy

The latest publication from the Hansard Society is by Andy Williamson, director of the Hansard Society eDemocracy Programme. The research study is entitled “Digital Citizens and Democratic Participation – An analysis of how citizens participate online and connect with MPs and Parliament.

This 21-page report compares national data for those who use the Internet, with what he labels the ‘digital leaders’, or the early adopters of social media who also declare an interest in politics.

Unsurprisingly, the conclusion is that people want to use the new media to engage with their politicians, not for one-way traffic . However, I imagine this was always the case before the Internet, but that town hall and Whitehall were even more physically and emotionally detached from those they represented and, as with shopping and information, it’s all been brought truly home, or potentially so.

I hope our representatives pay heed to the recommendations on page 16, and that these are also paid attention to nearer home at town hall level. They could also do with being observed by all our representatives, everywhere, since there now being rather a lot of unelected representatives in organizations that manage services for us.

Whilst one can email one’s MP one frequently gets a letter back, as happens with some service organizations. This is also one of the recommendations – that digital interactions are made two-way.

I still have concerns that representative democracy is intended to be one way and that we need to change the system to get two-way communications. I am also concerned that whilst it will be the younger and more educated minority that employ their skills to chivvy politicians, those without those skills and abilities will be excluded doubly so.


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