"If there is one thing I’ve noticed in the UK, right down to the local council level, is the disconnect between the strong party line and elected officials with the ability to say something interesting online. Those elected officials that blog, actively use their e-mail newsletters, or participate in online forums, seem to be the rare breed willing to talk first and ask for permission later."
The author probably doesn't realise how many petty rules there are that make this the case. I've argued before that there are way too many regulations.
We could start putting this right by scrapping The Standards Board.
In the same post, Steve Webb (a Lib Dem MP) provides an account of how he asked his constituents to frame their concerns on a particular issue (in this case, the replacement of Trident). Steve doesn't play a numbers game and makes no committment to any of his constituents to do anything other than weigh up their views and reach an informed conclusion in due course.
This seems to me to be a sensible use of simple electronic tools to enhance democracy. Steve hasn't needed to access any of the fabulous (incomprehensible) advice currently on offer from the £4m E-Democracy National Project.
Further to this post about Policybrief, wouldn't it have been wonderful if his constituents could have provided him with a summary of the published research on the subject?
(via Designing for Civil Society)