X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

How David Cameron can save money and boost interest in politics

11 January 2013

8:12 PM

11 January 2013

8:12 PM

David Cameron started his times as Prime Minister by saying that ‘the days of big government are over’. But he is still missing a major trick with the internet. The Times has highlighted(£) some of the ludicrous policy consultations undertaken by the coalition, many of which have received no responses at all:

‘Another consultation into Cornish wine received no responses at all. The owners of the Camel Valley Vineyard at Nanstallon, near Bodmin asked for protected status for their award-winning ‘Darnibole wine’. After consultation on the issue failed to stir the public or even rival growers, the wine is now being considered for submission to the EU Commission for protected status.

Although the government has started to build an online consultation database, only six departments have signed up for the system so far. Plus this new database requires interested parties to download a form or post a hand-written response to Whitehall. Instead of this compromise, we need something interactive and collaborative. For example, the ability to comment and rate policy suggestions, engage with other stakeholders and speak directly with the policymakers in Westminster.

[Alt-Text]


Plus, the ability to open up the filtering and sorting of responses could significantly reduce administration costs, as the current online system is barely a step up from written responses. Tory MP Douglas Carswell offers a wider vision in his book The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy. Take his idea for increasing participation in policy making:

‘The Internet allows people to group together online and apply pressure directly. Voters are able to press their judgment upon individual Congressmen and women. But they are able to demand the right to make more choices directly.

‘We will see more direct democracy, where voters are able to imitate debates and vote on what matters to them. Just as they decide what is on their MP3 player, so too will they have a role in programming the legislative agenda.’

This is no simple task, as Westminster tends to react negatively when faced with outside interference. One quote in Carswell’s book highlights the hostility:

‘You might waste a lot of time on that Twitter-book thing, Carswell, but they are hardly going to change the world’

Those MPs opposed to the concept of ‘iDemocracy’ need to wake up and smell the huge opportunity. Opening up policy making online could increase the flow of opinions — the Mail was particularly annoyed about the lack of responses to some consultations — by widening the communications channel with voters as well as addressing the bill Fleet Street have taken umbrage at.

Although tentative steps with ePetitions have been met with mixed results, it is hard to see how the political bubble can remain immune from increased interference. Hopefully, Parliament will not plant itself in the past and instead will instigate the birth of a more involved political system.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close