Helping parliaments get closer to the people they represent

By Andy Williamson A key challenge for those trying to engage a broader public in parliamentary democracy is that the processes often appear closed and opaque (because, often, they are). The language is off-putting, the procedures cumbersome and unfriendly, and it’s hard to see what’s going on. It can be hard to see any value […]

Reforming the House of Lords (again) and the number of Peers

David Morris MP (Conservative) recently moved a motion in Westminster Hall on ‘Reforming the House of Lords and the number of peers’. Morris spoke of a need to reduce the current number of peers and proposed a ‘better way’ to slim down whole of the Lords to 250 members. He emphasised that “this debate is […]

Speaker Announces Digital Democracy Commission for ‘Parliament 2.0’

The Speaker of the House of Commons has announced a ‘Digital Democracy Commission’ to look at the implications of the technological revolution for parliament and democracy. The Commission, which will begin work early in 2014, is in part a response to the rebuilding of the reputation and trust in parliament as a result of the […]

Empowering the Citizens’ Health Assembly

The starting conditions for a Citizens’ Health Assembly will largely decide how it develops. Get these right and the Assembly could make a constructive contribution. Get them wrong and it could be irrelevant or even damaging. This article suggests three starting conditions which could make it develop effectively, through a direct relationship with Parliament; by […]

Seven ideas for Open Parliaments

The Opening Parliament blog has seven tips on opening up Parliaments, taken from discussion at Personal Democracy Forum Poland. Most are also relevant to Open Policymaking (hat-tip, too, for Giulio Quaggiotto from UNDP). I particularly liked: 4. Understanding why citizens engage: Meeting citizens’ expectations for use of PMO websites is important to attracting repeat users. […]

European Parliament get social mauling

It was not a huge story, but the European Parliament came in for some stick from the Daily Telegraph the other day, for using social media monitoring tools to find out what people were saying about Europe. Obviously the EU is for media paranoia what catnip is for cats, but it’s a warning to policymakers […]

Involve submits evidence to PASC inquiry

Simon Burall from Involve is in front of the Public Administration Select Committee tomorrow, along with Professor Nigel Shadbolt of Southampton University and Mike Bracken of the Government Digital Service talking about public engagement with policymaking. You can follow the session live from 9.30am This second evidence session in the Committee’s inquiry into public engagement […]

Referendums: still not democratic

Another day, another proof that referendums are the tool of the powerful, not of the people. Today’s comes from David Cameron. The Guardian reports that he’s trying to force a Scottish independence referendum earlier than the SNP would like to hold it – in the next eighteen months rather than in 2014. Whatever the legal […]

Sure, but is it in Magna Carta?

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 […]

Oh for a democratic dictatorship

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 […]