Oh no not another motion

Christine Grahame MSP sums up how a lot of us in the third sector feel about Parliamentary Motions:

Oh no not another Motion—That the Parliament notes that, of around 10,000 motions lodged during the current parliamentary session, the word “congratulates” appears 4,584 times, “award” 1,500 times and “lottery” 688 times; further notes that, in the Parliament’s Business Bulletin on 12 May 2014, new motions and those with additional support take up over 40 pages; notes views that, with 15 years since the Parliament was established, it is time to review the procedure and practice of lodging motions; believes that it is appropriate for there to be two categories of motion, those that seek a members’ business debate, which should not require, as in this case, an artificial reference to Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, and motions of national relevance, and considers that congratulatory messages should follow a separate process such as a message board on the Parliament’s website or contained in an interactive display in a public area, which could include a short video or images of the individuals, groups or issues mentioned in the message, thereby saving at least 40 pages of print and cluttered in-boxes.

Are ‘congratulatory’ Motions of this sort useful or do we need to move them to a different channel as Christine suggests? 

Digital Democracy – What needs to change?

I was asked to take part in a Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy evidence panel session looking at Digital Democracy this week. You can watch the full session above or if you’d rather be spared my rants here’s what I see as some of the key issues or questions we need to tackle in Scotland:

Unlocking big data

  • How can data (intelligence ) ensure we get the right services to the right people?
  • How do we ensure data isn’t kept in silos within organisations and across sectors. We can be particularly guilty of this in the charity sector.
  • Can we trust our government with our data and should people have open access to all their data?

Social media

  • Too many local government functions still treat social media as a broadcast mechanism. How do we move towards ensuring government officials at all levels can use social media as an intelligent listening and engagement tool?

Digital inclusion

  • 30% of Scots don’t have basic digital skills.
  • 15% of Scots have never used the internet.
  • Equipment and broadband access are still prohibitively expensive.
  • Are we guilty of using digital exclusion as an excuse for lack of  ‘digital first’ service planning within the public and third sector?
  • Are we at risk of returning to an age when a narrow elite controlled the democratic process?

Do people actually want ‘Digital Democracy’?

  • Much of the chat around digital democracy centres on the need for people to be constantly engaged with the democratic process or community action. Lots of people want a hands-off relationship with democracy – they just want their bins emptied and well trained teachers.
  • Is there a danger that digital democracy adds even more layers of bureaucracy if it isn’t a truly fundamental shift in our thinking about democracy and government?
  • Do we need to move away from a geographically-centred approach to democracy towards a more interests-centred approach if we are ever going to engage a significant chunk of the population?

 

I’d love to know what you think on any of these questions.