Provocative stuff from Mick Fealty over at the Telegraph’s Brassneck blog. He highlights a report by the Centre for Policy Studies which suggests that ‘the internet could offer MPs an unmatched opportunity to create a niche for themselves, and to re-empower local politics.’ And echoing the Economist’s point about government in competition, he notes:
The most subtle, but perhaps most powerful, change, will be to the public’s mindset. As we grow used to the instant availability of information online, we will no longer tolerate delay and obfuscation in getting similar information from government. The individual, and not the state, will be the master in the digital age.
A weighty 60-page document landing on your boss’s desk may give you some useful extra leverage, but regular readers of these pages can probably skip the first half: it’s a rather predictable mix of stuff you know already, mostly from across the Atlantic. The good stuff starts at the half-way point: I particularly like the notion of a continuing dialogue between MP and constituents, in good times and bad. As author Robert Colville points out:
MPs traditionally hear from their constituents only when they are angry or in need – whether that be by post, or email, or at a surgery or public meeting. Most normal people will never contact their MP, due to constraints of time or motivation. This, naturally, promotes a rather jaundiced view of humanity among our elected officials. Yet by inhabiting the same online spaces as their constituents on a day-to-day basis, MPs will interact with them in much more normal conditions – when the MP is not the privileged voice of authority, but merely one member of a conversation among many. In doing so, perhaps they will get a much more realistic idea of what their constituents actually think.
The thrust of the report is undermined, sadly, by the curious formatting issues on the press notice announcing its publication. The link to download the full PDF is at the very bottom, behind an almost undetectable ‘click here’ link.