APACE: March 2012
Working with over 70 local authorities in the UK over the last 10 years
Working closely with both democratic services and political leaders
Close ties with Solace and LGA
Active researcher into informal civic activity online
Democratic Participation is still dropping
Are we in a state of democratic deficit?
• Diminishing voter turnout
• Diminishing trust in politicians and the political process
• Reductions in membership of political parties – in a system which is organised
around political parties
General Election Voter Turnout
at the 1 May 1997 general election: 71.4%
at the 7 June 2001 general election: 59.54%
at the 5 May 2005 general election: 61.4%
at the 6 May 2010 general election: 65.1%
In Local Elections turnout is assumed to be around 35% in England and 43% in
Party Membership is declining
• 1951 Conservative 2.9m - Labour 876,000
• 1971 Conservative 1.3m - Labour 700,000
• 1981 Conservative 1.2m - Labour 277,000
• 1991 Conservative 1m to 0.5m - Labour 261,000 - Lib Dem 91,000
• 2001 Conservative 311,000 - Labour 272,000 - Lib Dem 73,000
• 2011 Conservative 177,000 - Labour 190,000 - Lib Dem - 66,000 (Source:
Estimates based on party reports and House of Commons Library)
What do we think is behind this?
Time / Convenience / laziness (depending on your point of view)
Lack of interest or even dislike of politics.
Lack of Self-Efficacy
Is it likely that a
new role such
as the PCC will
Are you happy with
my assumption that
the answer is no?
The World Wide Web was born with the
mosaic browser in 1993
Children born the same year are now 18
18 year olds online
85% Access the internet at home
61% access social networking sites at home
50% of their online time is via a mobile device
20% of this time is spent on social networking
95% of them feel confident as an internet user
And they trust the content that they find far more than other groups
Source: OFCOM 2010
This would be someone else’s problem if not for the fact we are seeing
increases in all demographics
18-24 years olds are only 12% of the active online audience
OFCOM Technology Tracker 2010 data (published
Open as a cultural quality
• We need to recalibrate our privacy machines
• More networked behaviours bring more openness and blurring of boundaries
• Be open about where you are, what you are doing, who you are meeting
• Be open with the thought process and how you are reaching your decisions
• “I already publish details of my external meetings as prime minister - the first prime
minister to do so - and I also publish all meetings that I have with media editors and
proprietors. From now on the Conservative party will published details every quarter
of any meals attended by any major donors, whether they take place at Downing
Street, Chequers or any official residence.” (David Cameron, 26th March 2012)
Show you care
• Aggregate and communicate what people are saying about you
• Show the public not only your response but the question
• Answer questions in public
• Listen to a range of voices – and show that you are doing this
Decision making in a shifting context
Consultation results are usually out of date by the time they get considered
Quick representative polling allows more agile decision making
Think about the length of your policy making process – you will not be as
constrained by the committee structure
A good democratic experience
• The role of the Chief Executive is partly as a check and balance against political
• Deleting Council Chief Executives is seen as a way of giving more weight to
• Who is your monitoring officer?
• Do we have confidence in the panels providing this balance in the absence of a
• The persistence of the Office is important to balance the 4 year cycle of electoral
Your event horizon should be 5…10…
15..20 years in the future
What kind of relationship with citizens will
you have then?
How will you help shape that now?
APACE 27th March 2012
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