Looking at the Networked Councillor report again today I was wondering why I have no discomfort working with politicians of other parties to develop thinking and practice about digital engagement with communities where the report suggests that Councillors prefer to develop within parties rather than across parties.

The report talks about Next Generation users of digital tools, i.e. those who access the internet and use social tools using mobile devices rather than just through a PC or laptop at home now becoming Councillors. I wonder if Next Generation Councillors have a shifted view of the world which is a stronger culture than either our party culture or our authority’s culture?

Will this lead to a better democracy?

  • Will our values of openness and expectations around transparency and accessibility of information and people shift politics back into a space that is more relevant?
  • Will our ability to collaborate and work more ‘proportionately’ be improved either by our culture? Or because the public are more likely to create NoC councils? Or both together?

I know that where I keep one principle firmly at the top of my mind – does this improve democratic access? I find it simple and painless to work in partnership with other Councillors to deliver that.

For example I had the idea of creating a surgery within a voluntary sector day service for homeless people to improve their access to democratic structures and hopefully, help obviously. A Councillor from my authority but from a different party asked if he could join me. Of course he can! This is about getting the best access to us so that democracy wins.

Online I notice Councillors from all parties are quite willing to share knowledge and experience in using digital tools effectively as a ward Councillor. Because we want to learn from each other, we are enthusiastic about sharing.

Why more transparency and better skills in using all tools to communicate? I guess because we do care that we win the argument, not win by default. And, when people trust politicians and our structures enough to engage we all benefit from a strong mandate and stronger communities.

I welcome views from all but especially other Councillors :-)

 

Reposted from Cllr Emma Daniel’s blog. You can also follow Emma on Twitter

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One reply on “Right in to the danger zone?”

  1. Really interesting perspective Emma, thanks for sharing! I work with parliamentarians in varying and interesting places and what you describe repeats often at this level too… behind closed doors! Many Members believe (to varying degrees, perhaps) in the value of democracy, that the role of the citizen in this matters and needs to be enhanced and that Members don’t exist in isolation and need to ask, show, act transparently. And they believe that digital and social tools are good ways to do this. They also recognise the challenges these new spaces create and that they have to change and adapt to remain effective, even relevant, so encouragement, training and support is vital… this is culture shift for our elected representatives, personally as well as systemically, and it’s about stronger democracy not [just] more votes. The good politicians get this, it’s my hope that the bad ones get left behind!

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