Please note that this piece was originally published on the Constitution Unit blog, and is available here.
The 2015 parliament has seen the establishment of a new Petitions Committee and e-petitions system. Cristina Leston-Bandeira discusses the committee’s initial activity, arguing that it has achieved much in the space of six months and has the potential to pave the way towards a new kind of public engagement with parliament.
By Joshua Newton
Technology and social media are often revered as a 21st Century remedy to the ills of citizen detachment from politics and to the closed and elitist nature of UK political institutions. This was demonstrated by a recent Hansard Society Report which highlighted the central role that Parliament could play in communicating and engaging with the public. Yet with a unique organisational structure, that does not lend itself to far-reaching internal reform, the challenge of Parliament to devise and introduce a digital adaptation plan is daunting. Step-forward the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy (DDC). Launched by John Bercow last year, its aim is to explore how representative democracy can embrace technology. Having been lucky enough to contribute through a students’ forum, I will outline some of the productive ideas that are emerging out of the inquiry’s ground-breaking and inclusive nature. Continue reading
By David Cragg and Cristina Leston-Bandeira
Parliaments have been experimenting with public engagement initiatives for some years now. From general cultural and educational initiatives, to far more specific events. From these the main lesson has been that the public engages through issues, not politics per se. Adapting its approach to this principle, the UK parliament has recently been developing new ideas, which try to maximise the idea of engagement through issues, at the same time as using digital means for a wider communication, beyond the usual suspects. Below we present the reflections of someone involved in a recent example of this type of engagement initiative: a #ParliChat around a Westminster Hall debate on the Melbourne Declaration on Diabetes. Continue reading