Open Government and the EU: a model for action

There is no one solution to the European crisis, but we know that any solution has to include better democracy and greater openness. The EU, like every government, has to respond to citizens’ demands for greater control of the decisions that affect their lives. Our new report, written with the Open Estonia Foundation, the Centre for Public Innovation in Romania, and the Open Society European Policy Institute, looks at the experience of open government work in three member states to see what lessons the EU can learn. The most important lesson is - don’t make commitments unless you intend…Read more

Let’s not copyright social innovation

Way back when, when I was working for government, we had dealings with a social innovation organisation (now defunct) who attempted to charge us a license fee for continued use of the social innovation that they had designed, with our funding, in one of our policy areas. Obviously we said no, but it left a lasting impression on me about the futility of putting an intellectual property model around social innovation. At Demsoc, we share the work we do and materials we use in an open way whenever we can, and we push…Read more

Happy New Year – what are we planning at Demsoc?

Happy New Year from all of us at the Democratic Society. We hope you have a prosperous, successful and democratic 2016. 2015 was a crazy, busy year for us, but most of the plates stayed spinning. Our health participation project, NHS Citizen, finished its design phase with a published design, and started the slow process of building and development that reached a milestone in November’s Citizen Assembly. In Scotland, we worked on creating participation in the Local Tax Commission’s report on a replacement for Council Tax, and the Scottish Government’s Fairer Scotlandprogramme. There were consultation events for Health…Read more

Who should vote in the EU referendum?

Who should vote in the European referendum? You're likely to see a lot of political debate about it in the next couple of months, but the answer to the question is not just a matter of political calculation. It depends on what you think the EU is, and what a referendum is meant to do. On the wall of our office, next to the Wi-Fi code, hangs a copy of "the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen", the founding text of the French Revolution. Art. 3 says, "the principle…Read more
CSI: Scotland

CSI: Scotland

This post is an attempt to define what a common social infrastructure for civic participation might look like. It comes from discussions I’ve been having in a series of workshops on democratic renewal, hosted by the Scottish Government but involving lots of other government and civil society participants from around Scotland. The “common social infrastructure” idea came up at our last meeting. I promised to write a blog post to explain my take on what it meant - and this is the roughest of first drafts. There's a lot more work to be…Read more