Democracy and engagement

It’s beginning

Five years ago on election day, I wrote a post about civil servants’ use of social media during general election campaigns, arguing that it was time to start thinking about the next election. This time round the traditional rules and the new means of expression have managed to co-exist without too much difficulty. But we are all […]

Locally centralising the centrally local

Seen from a certain distance, local government looks untidy and inefficient. The same functions are replicated hundreds of times over. There is limited scale efficiency of operations. Boundaries create anomalies and inconsistencies. So it must make sense to join it all up, to standardise, to have common platforms and common tools. The counter-argument is that […]

Digital is political

Governments govern. Oppositions oppose – or, more positively, present an alternative set of policies based on an alternative political perspective. Political initiatives taken by one government will be looked at critically by its potential successors, for the obvious reason that the decisions embodied in those initiatives will have been taken by people with different political […]

The phoenix and the constitution

It is hard to change constitutions – deliberately so.  It is hard to re-engineer physical infrastructure – intrinsically so.  It is hard to stop and start again from scratch. Every decision and every context in which those decisions are made is the product of what has gone before, even when in another sense they may […]

Should the long tail wag the dog?

The burial of human remains at sea requires a marine licence. That must be one of the more arresting first lines of any government web page. Its combination of human tragedy and bureaucratic process packs a lot into eleven words. You won’t find that line, or anything else on the subject, at Directgov. That’s neither surprising […]

Civility in service

It really is quite simple. If you wouldn’t have said it before there were social media, don’t say it now just because there are. If you work for an organisation, don’t be rude about its leaders, products or policies in public. Don’t imagine that online anonymity is an invisibility cloak. If you work in the […]

On being private in public

From the random juxtaposition of things in a feed reader come two posts, one human and passionate, the other dry and analytical, each illuminating the other. Here first is Julian Sanchez writing about The Trouble With “Balance” Metaphors: Legal scholar Dan Solove, for instance, argues forcefully that “privacy” is not a monolithic value defined by […]