Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy web forum

Over the coming months the Digital Democracy Commission will be investigating the implications of the digital revolution for parliamentary democracy.

The Commission will address 5 themes in total. Although at the moment we are focussing on the second of these themes: digital scrutiny, we welcome comments on any aspect of our work at any time.

Key themes:

Please take part by adding your comments below.

Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy web forum


17 Responses to Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy web forum

Norman Strauss says:
November 17, 2014 at 03:06 PM
If Digital Democracy (DD) does not match the complexity of the poliuncy fields it seeks to impact and change, then it is just digitised business as usual with opinions and ideologies over-ruling knowledge and evidence; in other words more of the same old nonsense that fails to get to grips with or anticipate complex realities that change lives for better or worse.

DD must take account of lived life's complexities if it is to be worthwhile. This demands the inputs from and consultations with new disciplines that try to take account of complex systems and ecosystems. This will require a new cadre of pluralist teams of policy-makers to be originated in research and study modes. They too will get nowhere unless they ensure that they are all able to learn from and engage with matters outside their experience, including alien disciplines, personalities, ideas and creative minds. This is the first change task for would-be meta systems thinkers and those they seek to serve.

New contributions and theories must be transformed and transducted so as to be made absorbable by status quo thinkers and present powers and hierarchies, so that the threat and difficulty of the new is managed away and positively embraced. Crowd sourcing does not do that.

Above all this is a knowledge, leverage and human behaviour problem. Only goodwill, humility and organisational creativity to invent new progressive structures and ways of thinking and operating stand a chance of success.

Proper DD will also need a redesign and reboot of the parliamentary process and its place in the overall governing system, of which the civil service is the lesser part, not the foremost. It is the function and process not the purpose and leadership of government. They and the media will need to be educated and included in the learning process too, in order for them to disseminate and incorporate the new thinking as clearly and effectively as possible; or they will feel threatened and act as a barrier too.

See my Guardian article of 20 January 1984 on page 15, entitled "The case for more live wires in Whitehall", which was completely ignored by the government of the day and was perhaps one of the first forerunners and outliers of the possible needs for and benefits from Digital Democracy. It got nowhere even though it received good publicity at the time. It incorporated none of the suggestions in this note, as I had not then understood their importance. I hope this Commission does not make the same mistakes.
Tony Spiess says:
September 25, 2014 at 08:53 AM
From the starting gun you have missed the point! Number one priority getting the online citizen to respond. Ask them what they want. Ask them how they want to do it. Ask them what they expect to happen. Your consultation should be online people led not the usual cosy old boy club of big names and comfy organisations.
Bruce Lloyd says:
September 06, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Should you need to be a lawyer to understand and use an Act?

Definitely Not ... .. what we really need is to rewrite legislation in such a way that it is part of a logical decision tree framework, using understandable language,that enables the individual to work through and understand the legislation ... (from Employment law, Health & Safety, Taxation etc --- in fact all legislation ..)
Unfortunately this isn't going to happen because in essence it will makes an enormous number of lawyers redundant and there are too many layers in Parliament for a start. (Which means that they end up by fostering their our professional self interest - which is, in effect, a form of 'insider dealing'!
John Black says:
July 12, 2014 at 05:32 PM
I think that each MP should have his/her own website to communicate with their constituents. MPs could ask their constituents,who register for the site,to give their opinions on topical issues. Constituents could register on their MPs website and raise issues in two main categories.
Firstly,confidential issues could be raised in a section reserved for that, which would only be readable by the MP (and staff) and the constituent.
Secondly there should be a section for collective issues where the MP can respond to all those raising points on specific collective issues. This would reduce the number of replies that MPs have to make to individuals and enable constituents to see the points made by their fellows.
Access to these websites should be limited to those who are registered to vote in the MPs constituency.
Such websites would speed communications between MPs and their constituents and, using IT tools the MP can get an idea, almost in real time, what his/her constituents are thinking (and vice versa).
Such a system would enable more constituents to become actively involved in politics. Over the whole of Parliament this system would not be overly expensive and would not need "reinvention of the wheel" as such systems are widely available and would require little modification.
Tim Jokl says:
June 24, 2014 at 04:02 PM
I wonder if MPs and Staff at parliament understand what they can have, digitally speaking. Are they aware what is on offer now, and what is possible but has not so far been tried?

I wonder if and when you ask you'll get a lot of blank expressions and a vague notion that maybe young people probably want something more fancy.

I know in television there's a view that people don't know what they want until you give it to them. Parliament and democracy are a bit more serious, and hopefully not passive.

I wonder if you should arrange a presentation all about what is possible, what innovators are doing right now (think of Estonia) and give people something less abstract and more real, to base their suggestions on.
Michael La Costa says:
June 20, 2014 at 05:28 PM
Democracy incarnate can be achieved very easily, and the solution is remarkably simple – make decisions universally transparent (public accountability). And now implementation is also at hand.
First, decision-makers (whether alone or jointly with others) need to be sure they always make the best decision.
Secondly, those affected by decisions (especially those made in their name) need to understand, test and even participate in such decisions, in the knowledge that the result is the best choice, all views having been considered.
For this, an innovative (British) application has been developed and will be freely available on a web-site which has NO advertisements, NO subscriptions, NO donations and NO commissions, ergo NO vested interests at all (and NO privacy issues). Known as “Informed Choice – ic!” it has to be beyond reproach to build and sustain confidence in the process.
Perhaps the greatest benefit arising will be genuinely Open Government (of the people by the people) coupled with a meaningful dialogue with citizens throughout the land.
Tim Millea says:
June 11, 2014 at 08:18 AM
The challenge is not merely to digitise existing democratic mechanisms to how best to harness the possibilities of the digital age to further the intent of democracy - power by the people for the people.

It is clear that expert opinion can be solicited instantly and free of charge. Online forums can intelligently discuss any topic. Better, more accessible legislation can be formulated by the community. Political arguments can be had in the open not devised and packaged together by party political spin doctors in the dark corridors of London.

Democracy is not about voting for a colour every few years. It is about giving the population the opportunity of real governance. Use new technology to return power to the people and eliminate for good the political class who suffer from corruption whether it is through inflated expenses, lobbyists or just loyalty to their party above the interests of the people they were intended to represent. We don't need them.

Principles of subsidiarity and hence true 'localism', special interest groups and 'community' discussions are already natural to the internet.

Give the people responsibility and they behave responsibly.
simon cramp says:
May 08, 2014 at 08:36 AM
my comment for all this things and mr speaker i think you said it in your speech to the hansard society on this subject . is please all ways remember parliament and governemnt has a duty to make reasonable adjustment under part 4 of the equaility act 2010 as i find it differecult sometimes to keep in touch with the days events because all you get is to find out more information go online and then the web address we must remember the law and organsation are not above the law and they feel they need to put barriers in way for people wanting to access info in a different format because they struggle to what it in at the time i.e one format or there not enough funding say for a hard copy as techlogy is not cheaper dragon software which allow the user once it is installed on the person pc or tablet and is trained cost something in the region of nearly 2 weeks of esa money to buy . i hope that puts into context some of the issuse those that struggle with digital demorancy
Digital Democracy Team says:
May 19, 2014 at 03:46 PM
Hi Simon, thank you very much for taking the time to send us your feedback.

We are hoping to organise a discussion on digital accessibility and inclusion and wondered whether you would like to be involved? It would be great to hear how you would like to engage with and access information on Parliament. I'll send you an email with more information soon.

Best wishes,

Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy Team
Rachel Ling says:
May 02, 2014 at 08:54 PM
My comment is about Representation, Engagement and facilitating dialogue. We have set up www.yourvoiceparty.org.uk with these three embedded and offer a hybrid model of democracy with elements of direct democracy sitting within the representative model we currently have. We are standing in the European Parliament election later this month but we will only be successful if people understand the way it works and get behind the digital democracy movement that we are trying to evolve for the good of the people. Once you have familiarised yourself with the offerings of the party by looking at the website please send any comments and/or questions to me at [email protected] and spread the word. I would be happy to further contribute my knowledge to the Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy to develop the area in the national arena.
Digital Democracy Team says:
April 17, 2014 at 01:22 PM
Thank you very much for your comments on our making laws theme - your views have been noted. We're now looking at digital scrutiny - although feel free to comment on any aspect of our work.