Viewing category: NIBs

View by Links | Posts | Briefs | All

An ego-free European election advert

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 October 2013

Brussels-based advertising agency Old Continent has produced an alternative European Parliament election campaign. Rather than the world-spanning claims of the official version, this is a bit less egotistical. Quite British, even…

Campaign on the Manchester Airport windfall

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 25 September 2013

From Manchester, a new campaign for a participation process around a council windfall. The City Council has picked up a £14.5m windfall from the sale of the airport, and Jo Campbell and Marc Hudson  want the people of the city to be consulted on how it gets spent. They’ve set up a website (with video)…

Crushing innovation: a little story from Texas

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 31 August 2013

Here’s an interesting story, from Wired, on how hard it is for social innovation ideas to embed themselves in big public services. Note how the friendly local arrangement that was slightly outside the rules was slapped down by the bureaucracy, and the innovator had to come up with a much more intensive and laborious work-around….

Polls on Syria from @Electionista

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 29 August 2013

The brilliant Electionista has collated various polls from around the world on the possible military action Syria (here) and to my slight surprise there is a country that seems quite ready to take military action. I had expected big anti-war majorities because war isn’t usually a popular cause. So who’s gung-ho? It’s not the US…

Skin in the game

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 07 June 2013

Interesting little Gallup poll today (a year out from the 2014 EU Parliament elections) showing that: Lots of Europeans aren’t happy with the direction the EU is going in, and Other than the Brits, they want to stay in the EU. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that they should get involved in the European Parliament…

More immigrants than for 900 years? (Is @willhutton misquoting @david_goodhart?)

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 26 May 2013

I’m not sure whether there is some misunderstanding here, but this is a startling line in Will Hutton’s Observer article on immigration: David Goodhart is alarmed by the sheer scale of recent immigration. In his recent book The British Dream, Goodhart writes that since 2004 half a million non-British people have arrived each year in…

Friday afternoon reading: March 1, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 01 March 2013

When does the British Constitution require a Referendum? – Vernon Bogdanor Open Data Engagement | Exploring the engagement dimensions of open data Crowdsourced Urbanism In Helsinki: The Rise Of Facebook Democracy? — The Pop-Up City Political failure modes and the beige dictatorship – Charlie's Diary On post-democracy < good discussion from a few days ago…

Friday afternoon reading: February 22, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 22 February 2013

Launching the Regional Academy for Democracy Do you support or oppose the Really Evil Tax (UK Polling Report) What We Can Learn from 10,000 Porn Stars < fascinating infographic (topic NSFW but article SFW) Stumbling and Mumbling: Leftist Tories? Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail | Rolling Stone Net wisdom – the Internet has made…

Friday afternoon reading: February 15, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 15 February 2013

Beppe Grillo is changing politics Report: Ireland’s strategic options in the face of changing UK-EU relations. (IIEA) Ireland’s strategic options in the face of changing UK-EU relations. The Real Role of Cities < very good read, this (US perspective) via @governing Report: New political actors in Europe: Beppe Grillo and the M5S (Demos) The Voting…

Friday afternoon reading: February 8, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 08 February 2013

A case to reset basis of monetary policy away from inflation targets (FT, £) Why it matters that the Irish promissory notes are gone (FT Alphaville) Engaging with academics: how to further strengthen open policymaking Scottish Community Councils use of online: a survey (IIDI) Racist jibes prompt Saga to scrap its social network for the…

Friday afternoon reading: February 1, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 01 February 2013

WIth Open Data, The Transparency Medium Can Matter As Much as the Message (TechPresident via @kcorrick) Economic nationalism will only fuel failure (FT £) Interview on Britain and Europe with Former Prime Minister Tony Blair – SPIEGEL ONLINE @campbellclaret meets the stars of #Borgen (Times, £) The New Face of Digital Populism (Demos) Participatory Budgeting…

Friday afternoon reading: January 18, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 18 January 2013

FactCheck: ‘Benefit tourism’ scare sent packing < useful background re: Bul/Rom Rehabilitating Politicians, by @huxley06 "Those in power are universally fearful of public gaze" (@mickfealty in @irishtimes) Report: Connecting To The World, Communicating For Change: Media and agency in the new networked public sphere (@charliebeckett) Energy transition: what about involving citizens? (@involveUK) HMV, You Should…

Friday afternoon reading: January 11, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 11 January 2013

UK Needs to Beware the US 'Work Around' | Chatham House: Independent thinking on international affairs Who's afraid of judicial review? Debunking the myths of growth and abuse via @adamwagner1 Large Scale Participatory Futures Systems: a Comparative Study of Online Scenario Planning Approaches by @nradford Obama's no Lincoln, but he has a touch of a…

Friday afternoon reading: January 4, 2013

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 04 January 2013

The new politics of the internet: Everything is connected | The Economist Challenges for Global Governance in 2013 – Council on Foreign Relations Polls and the Vote in Britain | Will Jennings – Academia.edu In 2013, the great global unraveling (Mark Leonard) Douglas Adams on belief (via @drtomcrick) The long history of Britain's distrust of…

Friday afternoon reading: December 28, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 28 December 2012

Religious decline: it's a generation thing (by @ipsosmori) Planning meeting between civil society network coordinators and Cabinet Office Transparency Team

Friday afternoon reading: December 21, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 21 December 2012

Departmental digital strategies – you want 'em, @gdsteam has got 'em China 3.0: Understanding the new China (by ECFR) Mehdi Hasan: Strivers vs Shirkers? < good example of evidence-based blogging Lord Ashcroft: The UKIP threat is not about Europe Real Localism | The Centre for Welfare Reform

Friday afternoon reading: December 14, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 14 December 2012

The European Council on Foreign Relations | What is political union? (Paper) A Eulogy for #Occupy | Wired Opinion Democracy lessons from Europe’s periphery @openDemocracy Congratulations on the prize, EU, but there’s a lot of real work still to do (Mark Leonard, ECFR) Instagram Turns Evil, And It’s All Our Fault < very good read…

Friday afternoon reading: December 7, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 07 December 2012

Can digital democracy work? (video) 1975 European Council conclusions: budgets, closer union to beat recession, direct elections… The Leaderless Organization #openpolicy eDemocracy in Botswana – connecting citizens and leaders 3 Theses About The Daily’s Demise by @alexismadrigal Brief notes on the the OGP, open government and participation from @timdavies Networks, Change and Culture by @curiousc…

Friday afternoon reading: November 30, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 30 November 2012

Robert Ford: Are Ukip Supporters Racist? < summary: no, but less tolerant than C/L/LD Revenge of the Reality-Based Community (American Conservative) Tweets and the streets with Paolo Gerbaudo – Arab Spring, Indignados and Occupy at @civicmit By @steiny: Publishing policy papers I wrote for politicians & advisors, some regrets, and a statement about my personal…

Friday afternoon reading: November 23, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 23 November 2012

BBC News – Viewpoints: How experts see UK role in EU Dear Ninja Campaigner Geek: Why I work on non-partisan tech, and why I encourage you to take a look We’ll fight them on the beaches, but not, apparently, in the court room < strong criticism from @LouiseRestell What Ancient Greek rhetoric might teach us…

Friday afternoon reading: November 16, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 16 November 2012

China’s leaders must embrace democracy by Minxin Pei (FT, £) The scandal of politics is that we believe our MPs should be perfect by @hopisen Digital by default – mind the generation gap. The brain science of making better decisions (FT, £) How to handle the media (FT, £) #PCC: Yet another attempt at reform…

The relational democratic state

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 12 November 2012

The chapters by Tess Lanning and Geoff Mulgan in this new IPPR collection are relevant to how public involvement in Government could change. Here’s a snippet: All of these experiments [in public participation in policy] are attempts to embody the broader shift of government from standing over people, through providing things to people, to working…

Friday afternoon reading: November 9, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 09 November 2012

From the Cocoon of Denial and Epistemic Closure < good round-up of some US Republican thinking by @alexmassie The Urban Electorate: Why Republicans Can’t Afford to Concede the City Vote Ever Again – Politics – The Atlantic Cities How Britain lent to tyrannies to buy our arms | FT Westminster blog Peer to Peer Politics…

Friday afternoon reading: November 2, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 02 November 2012

Open Policy Making for the UK Open Government Partnership National Action Plan : Tim’s Blog Middle class blues: How unrest is growing in China’s cities (Economist) Where tribe trumps ideology in voting patterns Online social media and volunteer engagement by @imhelenj The role of online social media in enhancing volunteer engagement.  A case study.

Friday afternoon reading: October 26, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 26 October 2012

Report from NCDD conference on civic infrastructure (US)

Friday afternoon reading: October 14, 2012

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 14 October 2012

Cameron’s own goal: why leaving EU justice & police co-operation would be a bad idea Civic engagement makes Tufts students happier How journalists can turn their stories into conversations | Poynter. Speech by @sikorskiradek on the future of Britain in the EU Dan McQuillan lecture on Rhizomes, Striations and Social Change The UK and Strasbourg:…

Sierra Leone elections in November

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 October 2012

There are elections in Sierra Leone this November, and the Canadian NGO Journalists for Human Rights has a campaign running around it. They say: This November Sierra Leone will hold its second national election since the end of their civil war. And while the war may be over, the risk of violence remains. In the days…

Dutch election debates

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 12 September 2012

Not an elaborate metaphor. Dutch TV showed not one, but eight debates between the party leaders in advance of today’s general election, and there’s an excellent review of them all at the Extremis Project blog, (Populism makes them laugh – Wilders and Roemer lasting a marathon of debates). Extract: Over the past few weeks the ratings…

Citizen movements and social innovators

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 10 September 2012

Great article (via Alberto Cottica) about the “non-contractibles” – people who won’t ever want to work for an organisation, but who are essential sources of innovation and research that your organisation needs. A clip (from How can nonprofits work with those who will never want to work for them?): Aren’t the various forms of “new citizens”…

Police Commissioners – fall of a non-party party man

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 06 September 2012

Here’s something from a few days back I missed first time around: a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate has stood down because local associations refused to campaign for him unless he joined the party. The Telegraph reports: Mr Pye, an independent member of Cambridgeshire Police Authority, said: “I was encouraged to put my name…

The start of #presspushback

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 02 September 2012

American politics, which is much more ready than the UK to call people “liars” is now in the middle of a big discussion about how true Mitt Romney’s convention speech was. The general view seems to be “not that true”, but particularly interesting is the attitude and self-examination of the press. This may seem strange…

Gun control, Google Trends and the Political Agenda

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 31 August 2012

Ethan Zuckerman has a good post on gun control (What would it take to start a gun control debate in the US?). Gun control per se is a very US-specific interest, but he’s picked up some interesting information about the way in which mass shooting incidents cause public debate to spike on the topic. He…

What is public debate?

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 26 August 2012

Peter Beaumont writes (in How do we escape the hysteria that threatens to erode public debate?, Guardian): In the midst of a global recession and increasing distrust of both politics and the media, public conversation in western countries is already in the process of becoming more extreme and angry. Others have noted how, in the UK,…

The absent Boris vote

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 10 August 2012

Stephen Pollard has a mostly uninteresting article on Comment is Free today (Boris Johnson: the Tories prince over the water) which is a bit of standard “if only Boris were PM he’d be a proper Tory” boilerplate. However, there’s one annoying thing about it. Here’s Pollard on Johnson: More, he engages with voters who are…

Simon Kuper on the new British establishment

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 04 August 2012

Simon Kuper has a very good (and from my limited experience, very true) piece on the new British establishment in this morning’s FT (registration and possibly subscription required). He points out how welcoming, but also how closed and homogenous the British Establishment is. Here’s an extract: Having a unified establishment has a soothing effect on national life….

They would not be wolves

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 02 August 2012

A new article by Brendan Nyhan in the Columbia Journalism Review (The Gore-ing of Mitt Romney) has an interesting little snippet in it: Beyond the frustration and resentment, an underlying problem is that the demand for gaffe news far exceeds the public’s interest in substantive reporting, especially during a general election in which only 5% of adults are…

Loneliness and the long-term thinker

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 29 July 2012

Carl Haggerty has a great post about the people who have helped and supported him when he’s felt alone as a future thinker. It ends with this magnificent paragraph, which would be an asset to any council’s organisational development plan: As for organisations, the challenge for them is to stop people feeling lonely, to stop…

Snake Eyes or Double Six

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 19 July 2012

Chris Dillow has another good post (Luck, & helpful illusions) on how hard it is to accept that there isn’t a just or rational explanation for a lot of what goes on in the world: Our success, or not, in life is surely a matter largely of luck. I can easily imagine that slight tweaks in my…

That’s enough referendums, say Swiss

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 16 July 2012

I hadn’t spotted this until just now, but about a month ago a Swiss referendum rejected a proposal from a pressure group with far right links to put all new international treaties or treaty amendments to a referendum. It was a thrashing, really, as no canton voted in favour and the national vote was less than…

When the Crowd Isn’t Wise

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 07 July 2012

The backlash against prediction markets: [Prediction market Intrade] showed about a 75 percent chance that [the Obama healthcare] law’s so-called mandate would be ruled unconstitutional, right up until the morning it was ruled constitutional. The market — the wisdom of crowds — turned out to be wrong. I have since come to think of the…

Hangout generation

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 July 2012

Just had a great Skype meeting with a couple of people working on participation elsewhere in Europe. One was in Madrid, but about to move to Kraków, the other in Milan but about to move to Abruzzo. Neither of these moves, or the fact that I was in Brighton, disrupted the planning we were doing…

Data journalism: how it should be done

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 21 June 2012

This piece, from Christopher Cook on the FT Data blog, is what evidence-based data-savvy news reporting should look like. One for the “good examples” list. If the Mail  is correct, there is one proposal which stands out: splitting the GCSE. According to the report, under this new scheme some children would get the new O-level,…

Talking about Brighton (and Hove)

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 20 June 2012

Over on our Brighton & Hove local site (and Facebook and Twitter) we’re running a series of posts in advance of a set-piece debate this evening organised by the Chamber of Commerce. If you want to see what’s going on down on the south coast, swing by.

Ideology won’t win back non-voters

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 12 June 2012

Two parallel articles in the papers today. Here’s George Monbiot in this morning’s Guardian: The real problem is not that working-class voters have switched their voting preferences but that they are not voting at all because there’s too little at stake, [so] the correct political prescription is to do the opposite [of New Labour]: to…

Drugs: more evidence of societal acceptance

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 28 May 2012

When does something illegal become so widely socially acceptable that prohibition seems ridiculous? Perhaps it’s when the legal profession are reluctant to do anything about it. Pupil barrister Henry Mostyn has been caught possessing cocaine and marijuana – in other words, breaking the law he is meant to be serving – and the disciplinary hearing…

Review: The Return of the Public by Dan Hind (@danhind)

Profile photo of Paul Connolly Paul Connolly 24 May 2012

I encourage anyone interested in the debate on media standards in and around Leveson to read Dan Hind’s The Return of the Public, now released in paperback by Verso. First published in 2010, it antedates the current furore but throws considerable light on it. Hind explores the interplay between conceptions of the political state and…

Social Media Guidance by @govUK is my new jam

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 18 May 2012

If you follow my tweets, you’ll have seen that on Monday I was at the excellent PEP-NET (Pan-European Participation Network) summit in Hamburg. Noella Edelmann’s summary is here. One of the projects that presented was NextHamburg, who run participatory projects on the future of the city, as well as CityCamp-type innovation events. I particularly liked…

Government logo pseudo-scandal: rent a quote, but don’t give credit

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 09 May 2012

Here’s something very annoying. The Telegraph has a story about the new Government Department logos (which I rather like), revealed by Simon Dickson at Puffbox yesterday. Does the Telegraph credit Simon’s clever spot? No. Does it mention his blog or organisation at all? No. Instead, it goes to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the Elton, Pritt or…

There’s more online participation than you think

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 08 May 2012

Interesting piece on the BBC Online blog about how their web team has seen participation changing, and increasing. They make six points: The model which has guided many people’s thinking in this area, the 1/9/90 rule, is outmoded. The number of people participating online is significantly higher than 10%. Participation is now the rule rather than…

What price democracy?

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 07 May 2012

The FT’s Westminster blog reports: Officials have rejected a freedom of information request by the Financial Times, saying that the relevant information was produced “solely” for the joint committee on Lords reform. “A decision was taken by them not to publish it as part of their report,” they said in their response. Several anti-reform peers…

Chris Grayling and multi-tasking

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 18 April 2012

In a piece at ConservativeHome Chris Grayling indulges in the classic rhetorical trope of website commenters, “the fallacy of the single task”. You know the sort of thing: “when [acknowledged big bad thing] is going on, WHY OH WHY is that bumbling idiot McBroon/Bliar/Camoron wasting time on [small controversial thing]?”. Here’s Grayling, on the EU: It…

The Voice: Democratising Twitter in Belgium

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 15 April 2012

Judging from this piece in Le Soir (Belgium) business pages, Twitter hasn’t yet hit the mainstream at least in Francophone Belgium. RTBF put Twitter front and centre during its version of singing contest The Voice, with contestants being taken into a “smart room” during the transmission to read online reactions (which must be pretty dispiriting)….

Early infographic from Nazi occupation of Poland

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 09 April 2012

I visited the sobering but fascinating museum of the German occupation of Kraków today, located in the Schindler factory in Podgórze. One thing that struck my eye – following on from this Ministry of Information infographic – was a Nazi infographic, produced by the German occupying authorities in the city, and showing the number of Jewish…

Referendum on Lords Reform ahead?

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 05 April 2012

If this is true: A major spanner has been thrown into coalition plans for House of Lords reform after a joint select committee surprisingly agreed to recommend that an elected second chamber should only be introduced after the constitutional change was endorsed in a national referendum. It’s another step down the road to making referendums…

Farewell COI

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 April 2012

The weekend saw the final end of the venerable Central Office of Information (COI). As the agency that handled Government information and advertising, and with a heritage in the WW2 Ministry of Information, it had some great images to be proud of. The Twitter hashtag #COIdidthat captured some, and here’s a slideshow of some more,…

March of the tastemakers

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 26 March 2012

If you can get to it (free registration gives you a limited number of articles a month), the FT today has a very interesting examination of social curation sites such as Pinterest. Networks of friends and contacts are becoming a powerful reference source, particularly for topics that are too subjective or personal to be caught…

“Fair to the truth” journalism

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 29 February 2012

Jay Rosen’s blog Pressthink has an analysis of the new National Public Radio ethics guidance that tries to move the station away from “he said, she said” journalism, or in Paul Krugman’s magnificent phrase “Views still differ on shape of planet“. The new guidance says: At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not…

Digital downsides

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 19 February 2012

Paul Clarke has pointed me to a recent piece of research (PDF) undertaken by Ctrl Shift for Consumer Focus. It’s called Digital Downsides, and considers ways in which new technologies and channel shift can harm the interests of consumers. The report is a good assessment of some of the potential downsides of digital development, arranged in…

Is this Dalston?

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 31 January 2012

I’ve talked to a few people about Euan Mills‘ excellent little project to find the place people describe as “Dalston” (a suburb of North London), but have never been able to find the link to it. So, thanks Strange Maps blog, who have posted about it with the original place-name graph – obtained by stopping every…

Dueling Cults of Personality

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 30 January 2012

This thoughtful piece is about the US Primary campaign, but it doesn’t take much to translate it to the British context: I seem to keep encountering folks who respond to new bits of news unfavorable to their guy by reflexively adjusting all of their other views to preserve their pre-conceived notion that their guy is…

A bit of love for the Living Voters Guide (Washington state)

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 26 January 2012

Via the DO-Wire mailing list, I came across a great little site set up to help voters discuss and learn about the ballot initiatives in the 2011 elections in Washington state. You can take a look here: Your guide to the 2011 Washington Election – The Living Voters Guide. I particularly liked the Wrangl-like “Yes/no”…

Twenty-four relatively contented people

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 18 January 2012

Via Involve, I’ve come across two case studies of citizens’ juries being used in the NHS – one in Oldham which looked at fairness in commissioning, and one in Buckinghamshire which looked at setting the priorities for dementia care. Both are reasonable examples of what citizens’ juries can achieve, but they raise a couple of…

SuperPACs – richer than Bruce Wayne, and probably more powerful

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 17 January 2012

Disturbing read about US SuperPACs – the effectively unregulated campaigning machines created by recent legal decisions. Unhindered by campaign finance rules, they can shovel money into attack ads, and take unlimited donations, as long as they aren’t officially co-ordinating their campaigns with a named candidate. Except the rules are hard to enforce, and only two fines…

Eric Cantona runs for President of France

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 10 January 2012

Eric Cantona has written to all the mayors in France appealing for their support to stand in the French presidential election. Libé has his original letter, in which he describes himself as an “engaged citizen” and promises to campaign against the “too limited” chances that young people have, and society’s “too numerous, too violent and…

Sure, but is it in Magna Carta?

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 05 January 2012

Is there a word for people who have a manically exaggerated respect for the US Constitution? Ultra-constitutionalists perhaps? Anyway, whatever they’re called, they’ve just been hugely outdone by three Republican members of the New Hampshire General Court, who have proposed a procedural Bill that in its entirety reads: “All members of the general court proposing bills…

Iowa: the One Percent-Off

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 04 January 2012

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone has a gloomy take on the US elections, and particularly the banking-and-establishment nature of the campaign funding on both sides: The reason 2012 feels so empty now is that voters on both sides of the aisle are not just tired of this state of affairs, they are disgusted by it….

Election year, not just in the US

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 04 January 2012

According to Foreign Policy, in 2012: A third of the world’s nations will be holding local, state, or national elections; a number of Arab Spring countries will be putting their democratic aspirations into action; and four out of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Russia, China and France…

The Washington Post Mention Machine

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 January 2012

The Washington Post Mention Machine is a little tool for the US election, that ranks candidates by the last seven days of mentions on Twitter (Ron Paul by a country mile) and in the mainstream media (Barack Obama, obviously as the serving president, but Mitt Romney and Ron Paul neck-and-neck among Republicans). It’s also on Twitter…

A risky recommendation from Anthony Seldon

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 January 2012

In the Guardian: The big society must be grounded in goodness. The government should clean up politics, with a strong lead from the top, and restore trust in the body politic. It should institute a scheme for a thousand ambassadors who have achieved distinction in their fields, and who lead exemplary lives. They should be charged…

Pundits and policy

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 22 December 2011

I sighed in rueful recognition at this passage from the New York Review’s review of Ron Suskind’s new book on the Obama White House : That incoherence [in understanding the different policy positions behind a particular row] speaks to the weakness of … much punditry about the presidency. It is very sure-footed in its reporting on…

New housing development will end virginity in Godalming

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 December 2011

I was delighted to see this piece on the BBC: A report in Saudi Arabia has warned that if Saudi women were given the right to drive, it would spell the end of virginity in the country. … The report contains graphic warnings that letting women drive would increase prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce. because…

Occupy-ers and democracy

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 27 November 2011

Great little blogpost from Norman Geras about the Occupy movement’s rhetoric. Read it all – it’s not long – but here’s the most important thought: It is impossible to credit that anyone of democratic mind could really think any protest demands to be heard and then acted upon, since this would amount to a norm of…

Oh for a democratic dictatorship

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 23 November 2011

There’s a slightly odd article by Francis Fukuyama in today’s FT.  His argument is that the checks and balances in the US constitution have hardened (under pressure from more ideological politics) into a situation where nothing can be done due to the presence of unbreakable and increasingly common vetoes like the filibuster rule. Fukuyama compares…

Harmony, for a change

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 22 November 2011

Today is St. Cecilia’s Day, the day of the patron saint of music, and since politics and music are both about bringing harmony to chaos – aren’t they? – here’s a coalition-building part of Purcell’s “Ode for St Cecilia’s Day“. Soul of the world! Inspired by thee, The jarring seeds of matter did agree Thou didst…

Consultation: don’t do it like this (part 94)

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 14 November 2011

The BBC is reporting that two schools in Peacehaven, near Brighton, are to merge despite 95% of responses to the consultation on the proposals being against. I’m assuming here that the consultation was a statutory box to tick, and that the decision had in practice been taken, and budgets set, rather than that the council joyously…

Finding all of the interesting data within one local authority area

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 08 November 2011

This new project from Paul Evans looks good: I’ve never seen anyone try to pull together a good index of all of the relevant and interesting data that is available within one local authority area with the aim of giving school pupils something to work with, so over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing…

Uncharted waters

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 29 September 2011

I tweeted about this Robert Gates speech (as reported in the LA Times) earlier in the week, but it’s still worth a read. Gates (who was defence secretary under Bush then kept on by Obama) worries about the state of the US political system in ways that sound quite familiar to Brits. Indiviudally, paragraphs like that below…

Don’t hang up

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 12 September 2011

Random thought, provoked by an excellent blogpost on public engagement in planning in Scotland.  One possible way to describe the engagement shift that we want to see : a change from a world of posting letters (intermittent, formal, information-heavy) to posting on social media (constant, personal, each message information-light but builds up richer information over time).

Two party system alive and well in local government

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 08 September 2011

I love being corrected on my lazy assumptions, so I love the new briefing from the Institute of Local Government Studies at Birmingham University*. The report, Hung Councils and Local Coalitions reminds us that the decline of the two-party system that we’re seeing at national level is not replicated at local level – indeed, has been…

Asylum and community enragement

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 14 August 2011

Two stories, two papers, both today. Each designed to make the readers angry (h/t to Kevin Anderson for “community enragement strategies”). The Guardian: Walter explains that the show [of photographs of women seeking asylum in the UK, shortly opening in Parliament] is not about individual asylum cases but about the “importance of letting people know…

Starbucks Chief Exec leads campaign donation strike

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 13 August 2011

According to Joe Nocera in the New York Times, Starbucks boss Howard Schultz is calling on his corporate peers to stop campaign donations to both the big parties until they come together in a bipartisan way to “solve the country’s problems”. Quixotic? Oh yes. But it’s interesting that the campaign donation is seen as the…

Planet of the Sublimated Anxieties

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 03 August 2011

I saw the trailer for the lumpily-named “Rise of the Planet of the Apes“.  It’s a different setup from the original Planet of the Apes, where the apes re-colonise a world where humanity has been (we assume) annihilated in a nuclear holocaust. No cleansing atomic fire in the new version: civilisation is overturned by an oppressed…

An excellent rule from Alex Massie

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 19 July 2011

As a general rule if you think something would be a scandal if the other mob were in power there’s a good chance it should also be thought a scandal when your friends are in government. In a broader piece about the hidden scandal of Dominic Grieve’s sacking, at the Spectator Coffee House.

Voices from the past

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 14 July 2011

Mr Tietmeyer [president of the Bundesbank at the time] warned about the lack of closer political integration to underpin the monetary union. “In the long run, monetary union cannot and will not survive without being embedded in a broad political, common environment,” he told the FT in 1994. He went on: “If we create a…

Strange priorities

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 24 June 2011

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has released a survey undertaken by YouGov on “four popular spending cuts” that the Government should undertake. The four are freezing the international development budget; cancelling High Speed 2; stopping paid trade union posts in public services; and scrapping the Green Investment Bank. Did one of those pop out at you? What…

Mutual trading standards

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 22 June 2011

Mutuals are a popular concept at the moment – and a new report (pdf) from Consumer Focus suggests Lambeth’s “John Lewis” council might be accompanied by “John Lewis” trading standards inspections. The paper by Paul Connolly (a former colleague from the 2005 Hampton Review of regulation) proposes a mutual model for trading standards (and eventually…

NYT takes a leaf from the British press

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 20 June 2011

Different countries, different cultures. It makes for a news article on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog when the New York Times announces that one section of its Sunday paper will breach the wall between opinion pieces and fact-based reporting. Joshua Benton says: In other words, the Times feels that the ancient division between opinion and…

NESTA: an impertinent suggestion

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 26 May 2011

Now that NESTA has passed through its near-death experience, it needs to work out what to do with its new lease of life. In the spirit of friendly suggestion, I think it should try to carve out a slightly different role from other similar organisations. The world has enough thinktanks, and enough funding bodies, and…

He hath commanded his covenant for ever

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 14 May 2011

I’m not sure I like the idea of putting the military covenant – the “deal” with the armed forces that they fight for us and we treat them right in return – on a statutory footing, as David Cameron is about to propose. This isn’t from any desire to do down our armed forces, but because…

Friday afternoon reading: April 8, 2011

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 08 April 2011

Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes – by the author “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.” Poland should reinvent itself as the bridge between east and west John Rentoul: Here we go again, voting tactically… The Socialist Programme in France…

Setting the tone

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 31 March 2011

I’ve tweeted it already, but it’s well worth reading this post from Kevin Anderson at his blog, discussing how journalists (and, we’d add, everyone who runs a discussion site) has responsibility for setting the tone of debate. An extract, but read the whole thing: Poisonous communities don’t sell. They don’t sell to most readers, and…

Showing Parliament’s workings

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 21 February 2011

In France at the moment, there’s a programme which BBC Parliament, or BBC4, would do well to copy, as a way of showing how Parliament affects the country. Here’s the listing: This programme decodes the eight most important laws passed in the last five years. Secularism, environment, security, retirement, health insurance, social cohesion, justice, decentralisation…

Local government and big society

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 27 September 2010

Excellent thoughts on local government and involvement in the Big Society from Simon Burrall at Involve, on the Our Kingdom blog:

The minor issue of scaling up by 267 million percent

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 11 August 2010

Julian McCrae at the Institute for Government PWC citizens’ jury in Coventry recently. His take on the key points:

“Firstly, people can accept the case for difficult decisions when they are engaged in a meaningful discussion about the options.

Your Freedom should be supporting users more

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 20 July 2010

The Tumblr site YourFreedumb might be devoted to picking stupid or offensive content out of the Your Freedom consultation, but that doesn’t mean they can’t write a perceptive critique of why it hasn’t taken off in the way I hoped it might.

Still captive: intellectuals, fear and conformity

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 13 July 2010

Tony Judt, though struck down with ALS, is doing some great stuff at the moment, and here’s a fantastic post on the NYR blog, looking at the modern applicability (or otherwise) of Czesław Miłosz’s magnificent study of intellectual conformity, The Captive Mind

The informed informing the uninformed with information

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 12 July 2010

Self-evident statement in this blandest of Parliamentary Question responses:

“The KPMG report on NHS Choices and NHS Direct is informing the Department’s Information Strategy.”

Value for money there, I’d say!

Messages change, opinion polls change

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 27 June 2010

Little thing I noticed today. In the Sunday Telegraph, 52% of people questioned in an ICM poll thought the recent budget cuts were necessary (although of course detail on what they will be is not yet clear). Compare that with the 75% of people before the election, as often mentioned by Ben Page, who thought that the deficit could be reduced by efficiency savings alone.

Tough decisions

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 25 June 2010

IpsosMORI Social Research Institute have short new piece out, giving ten bits of advice to those involved in public sevice reforms in this era of cuts. Tough Decisions (PDF) is good in itself, but all the better for referencing our Democracy Pays white paper on the front page.

The Talk Issues Thinktank Roundup

Liam Murray 30 May 2010

Welcome to this week’s Talk Issues ‘Thinktank Roundup’ – your one-stop review of all the best publications, research, commentary and events from leading UK think tanks. Not surprisingly in the week of the Queen’s speech various thinktanks responds to their fears & hopes from the government legislative programme for the next 18 months. Reports, Publications…

Welcome to the Thinktank Roundup

Liam Murray 20 May 2010

Welcome to the Talk Issues ‘Thinktank Roundup’ – your one-stop review of all the best publications, research, commentary and events from leading UK think tanks. Not surprisingly two themes dominate the output this week – the arrival of the UK’s first coalition government in 60+ years and the implications of the coming fiscal contraction. Reports, Publications &…

What a hung parliament means for local government

Arun Marsh 13 May 2010

Andy Sawford, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit, recently spoke to TweetyHall – a site dedicated to helping residents and local politicians come together through social media – about what a hung parliament means for local government in terms of powers, funding and a localist agenda. He also looks at what MPs might…

Cynicism in America

Profile photo of Anthony Zacharzewski Anthony Zacharzewski 27 July 2007

The Washington Post reports a sour mood among US voters: “Even more striking [than generally unfavourable views of politicians] was the answer to the question of whether Americans believe their own member of Congress puts partisan politics ahead of constituents’ interests. Fully 71 percent said partisan politics and 63 percent strongly hold that view.”