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Fresh (out of) ideas: it doesn’t look good

December 16, 2010

‘Participatory government’ always sends a shudder down my spine. It reminds me of round tables, surveys, online budget calculators and consultation events the unemployed or the pushy like to show up to.

When I saw the Coalition’s attempt at it via a wordpress-esque site I was mildly amused.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100824180635/http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/

It was rightly inundated with spurious suggestions (“let cousins from the west country marry each other and live in peace” and “Why do I have to press the back button several time [sic] to submit another suggestion?”) before it closed.

Have a read of them here:

http://ukhmgdata-cabinetoffice.s3.amazonaws.com/Websites-2010-10-14/your-freedom-data-final.xls

The data has been sent to the poor people at the National Archives who’ll have to store it so future generations have evidence that nothing good ever came from a comment box underneath a You Tube video of Nick Clegg begging for direction.

The reality is, nothing good ever comes from the public when they’re asked questions they’re not qualified to answer. This is a fact of governance 21st century politicians need to get used to. Opening up policies and strategy to debate from the public is nothing but weak PR and I’m upset Ed-Milliband has fallen for it.

http://www.fresh-ideas.org.uk/

Fresh Ideas is a stupid idea because Ed spent the whole summer telling us he knew exactly where New Labour went wrong. If that is the case, why does he need people to tell him what New New Labour needs to do to get it right?

Ed Milli: thank goodness all his ties are red. Imagine the morning deliberations if they weren't

He can’t possibly conceive consulting the rants of anonymous web posters when sitting down to have a second bash at writing a Labour manifesto. Any poster who thinks the Labour party would is out of their mind.

If you want our opinions on something specific, ask us a direct question. For example, “do you think university fees should go up?” is a good one. If you want our opinions on something specific and complicated, ask us a direct question and give us a bit of debate so we can tell you which side of the fence we feel most comfortable on.

Asking people to respond to a statement as broad as: “Now is a time for new politics and fresh ideas. Tell us your Fresh Idea below” is no use whatsoever.

Does the new Labour Leader stand for anything? It’s lovely hearing him talk about equality and fairness. I would rather hear him tell us how he wants to achieve that.

Picking holes in the policies of the Coalition is like shooting fish in a barrel. Ed should spend less time scratching his head, pretending to be a ‘new breed’ of consultative politician, and more time saying things that amount to ideas,  proposals and proper critique of the government people can really believe in.

Transparent government and participatory government are buzzwords and smokescreens. They don’t make decision-makers look fair. They make decision-makers look dithering and most damaging of all, disingenuous.

Ed should see Clegg’s three stone weight gain and new double glazed office window as a cautionary tale. Let the public believe they have a role in policy at your peril.

A new breed of politician would invent policies they believe in and take us on a journey towards that honest vision. Fresh Ideas does nothing of the sort. It is the political equivalent of a rudderless boat.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. BrusselsBelle permalink
    December 19, 2010 20:49

    Listen, I’m so bemused by Ed right now, and slightly disappointed. He’s become invisible and devoid of policies. If Labour aren’t careful they’ll end up on the same leadership carousel that the Conservatives found themselves on in the nineties and early 2000’s. What a difference three months make…

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