In an era of Open Policy, political parties need to embrace guerilla tactics to survive.

The open policymaking project is looking at methods of public engagement and participation in policy and what role digital technologies can play in the future. Historically, one of the major forms of public engagement in informing policy has been through the mainstream political parties. However, the main political parties are being eclipsed, especially from a perspective of utilising new technologies, by new upstart platforms and movements from Mumsnet, 38 Degrees through to the Pirate Party. If political parties are to reclaim their roots as movements for people who want to engage in policy,…Read more

AV and strong leaders

Most of the arguments used so far against AV have been so dubious or downright misleading that it's a pleasure to come across an argument against based on a description of what democracy is for. Paul Sagar's review of James Forder's The Case against Voting Reform provides an argument against AV based on the political philosophy of Joseph Schumpeter. Schumpeter, an economist, had no time for the "general will" of Rousseau and other democratic theorists, and still less for the idea that democracy and voting might be in any meaningful way based on…Read more

Le peuple, c’est moi

He would definitely have wanted a national referendum on the Nutmeg (Weights and Measures) (Supplementary Provisions) Order. Image via Wikipedia I haven't been following the debate on the EU Referendum Bill (aka the Glorious Patriotic Union Jack Eternal Triumph of Hardworking British Families Patent Referendum Lock to which only the Queen and Winston Churchill from 1940-45 will be given the key*). You might guess from the last sentence why I haven't been. I did read a short BBC piece on it, though, and the unreality of the whole debate struck home hard when I…Read more

Lunchtime list for May 31st

Here are the articles and web pages the Talk Issues team recommend today: Peak State and The Valley of Nobody Knows - Adil Abrar from Sidekick Studios has joined the blogging team at The Big Society, and his first post is an interesting meditation on the similarities between energy policy and Big Society: both have a noticeable gap between the end of the old and the start of the new. Pyramid Schemes - Think Egyptian elections are a joke, rigged through any number of methods to ensure that the ruling NDP stays in…Read more

No confidence in 55 percent

Image via Wikipedia The Government's self-interested plan to gut the traditional motion of no confidence might gain the status of memorable first flap of the new administration - with a constitutional principle in the role of Bernie Ecclestone. The proposal, linked to that for fixed-term parliaments, is that votes of no confidence should no longer automatically compel a Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament*. Instead, a vote of 55% of the Commons would be needed to authorise a dissolution request. There has been a lot of disquiet over this proposal, both from Conservatives such…Read more

Keeping on talking

Thanks to everyone who read and commented here and on Facebook during the election campaign. We tried to do our bit to talk about policy issues rather than the leaders' personalities, or their wives' toes. Now, under the new coalition Government, discussion and compromise on issues will, we hope, come right to the fore. People are talking - about Lords' reform, about voting systems, about free schools and about spending cuts. The Labour party leadership election is getting under way, and again, we hope that it will be a contest of ideas rather…Read more

Election first reaction

So after a few hours's sleep, time to reflect on the irony that this most presidential of general elections has resulted in a slew of unpredictable local results, many based on individual candidates' records, and will now be followed by at least 48 hours, and possibly much longer, of Parliamentary manoeuvring. When all the talk is about horse-trading, it doesn't seem like the best time to talk about the policy issues at stake, but if the Liberal Democrats are seriously thinking of allying with the Tories or, less likely, Labour, they will need…Read more

Still can’t decide?

Polling Day is tomorrow and if - like a third of voters - you still haven't definitively made up your mind how to vote, here are some resources for you to take a look at: Carrie's roundup of websites that match users' views to parties' policies. Find out which party's opinions are close to yours The BBC's excellent constituency map, so you can find out what the results were at the last election where you live The parties' manifestoes: Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, or profiles of others The BBC's First Time Voter page (which…Read more

It’s a very different election in Scotland

David Cameron didn't win last night's final TV debate for Scottish viewers. In fact if Nick Clegg had announced a new compulsory programme of bestiality in primary schools and Gordon Brown had broken down in tears and lay in the corner shaking the consensus of opinion at workplace coffee machines this morning would be "But that Cameron's a Tory isn't he?' Our centre of gravity is considerably to the left of the rest of the country and themes which resonate well across huge swathes of the UK have absolutely no traction here. Immigration…Read more

Bright road ahead for transport?

Despite the vast majority of us using transport of one form or another everyday it has not really been on the radar in the build-up to the election. All three main parties have committed to maintaining some kind of transport infrastructure fund. Labour say they will fund £1bn of this with asset sales, the Tories have not set out how they would fund their plans and the Lib Dems, whose plans are most ambitious, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers,  say they would create a UK infrastructure bank ‘to leverage large volumes…Read more