Monday, April 25, 2005

Interactive local government

I’d like to do a bit more thinking around the subject of the ‘interactive Council’ and the ‘interactive Councillor’. I really don’t think that this subject gets taken seriously enough and I often wonder how much I think this because of my involvement in this project (have I got things out of proportion?). We started it in the first place because we thought that a move to transfer the communication of Council activities largely to Councillors would not only improve local democracy, but ‘humanise’ the Council itself.

There seems to be a view abroad that politicians are held in particularly low esteem at the moment. Conversations with my older relatives make me doubt that somehow. The consensus I’ve picked up is that “they’ve always been a bunch of liars, but in the old days, we had two choices – our liars or their liars.”

I do think that the current malaise is partly due the fact that people are less aligned – and therefore, they are less inclined to regard ‘our liars’ as … well … OURS. If this is the case, then I think that making politicians more interactive will act as a counterweight to the reasons that political parties are so powerful.

If political parties in general – and centralisaton of power in particular – are products of the growing mass media of the past 50 years, then a more accessible interactive polity may reverse this a bit.


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