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) and an e-petition on the council website.

The Council have an online suggestion box on how the money should be spent, but there isn’t any ranking or true participation involved in it, as far as I can tell.

You can find out more at Ask The People of Manchester.

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.

[A startup called] Outbox, had worked out an agreement with the regional postmaster in its hometown of Austin, Texas to set aside mail addressed to the company’s customers. Instead of United States Postal Service carriers taking letters to individual mailboxes, Outbox would pick up the mail, open it, scan it, and make digital copies that customers could read via web or app.

[However, after the USPS senior management kicked up], Outbox rejigged its operation so it could reach the same end without the help of the USPS.

Rather than pick up customer mail from the postal service, the company put together a fleet of cars that would go home-to-home and retrieve mail straight from customer mailboxes. The company built software that lets it cut duplicate mailbox keys from photos provided by customers, and its app uses a logo detection algorithm that will toss out junk mail that users have elected not to receive.

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 (where polls are against even if chemical weapons were definitely used), it’s not the UK, it’s France – whose discussion of the war is almost invisible in the UK press, presumably because it doesn’t always happen in English.

Two polls show the majority of French people who expressed an opinion in favour of an attack sanctioned by the UN. Why should this be? My guess is that they avoided the trauma of the Iraq War (and the poll question mentions UN approval as well), so they have less of a burden of history. France is also the former colonial power in Syria and Lebanon.

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 elections and make their voices heard. We’ll be launching a new project in the next few weeks that will help with that.

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 Britain – “more in a single year than in the entire period from 1066 to 1950″.

Now, I’ve not read the book Hutton quotes, but surely the idea that between 1066 and 1950 fewer than half a million immigrants arrived in the UK is utter rubbish. For starters:

1. Polish Resettlement Act of 1947, where 200,000 Poles, including my Dad, were given citizenship in a single year.

2. Huguenot immigration after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, where 50,000 French protestants arrived in the UK.

3. Jewish immigration from eastern Europe in the Victorian era, where 140,000 Jews arrived in the East End.

That’s 390,000 people just from three waves of immigration. Let’s leave aside the self-evident proportion issue (there are more of us these days, so 50,000 Huguenots was more significant immigration than 140,000 Jews).

Is Goodhart really claiming that in nine hundred years only 110,000 people came to live in the modern UK other than those three waves of immigration. No Irish (who are non-British, for modern statistics)? No French? No Dutch?

Because that’s obviously nonsense.