The Hansard Society is an important organisation which promotes political participation.
It states: ‘Civic society is most effective when its citizens are connected with the institutions and individuals who represent them in the democratic process… There has never been more urgency for Parliament to engage with the public.’
It is clear that blogs, Twitter and Facebook can be used to enhance political participation and civic engagement. And there are plenty of ‘honourable’ examples of MPs (see what I did there) who have created blogs that are not only popular, but are important tools in allowing citizens to communicate and engage in politics.
Comments, yes please…
Regular blogger Lynne Featherstone, a Lib Dem who recently voted to triple tuition fees, has been provoking a lot of comments online. She produces a ‘popular’ blog (if being ‘popular’ is defined as being hated by a large section of your constituency) and some of her posts have well over 100 comments beneath. But fair play to her, even the most critical comments (and there are a lot) appear quickly on the site, once they have been moderated.
Lynne comes in at respectable no.8 in the Total Politics Top 30 MPs Blogs.
Another example of good blogging is that carried out by Labour MP, Tom Watson. Described as: ‘A politician who has acquired far more prominence as a blogger and tweeter than he did as a minister.’ (Steve Richards, The Independent, 16th Dec).
Shhh! Don’t disturb the ‘Quiet Man’ of blogging
Unfortunately, there are those who get it completely wrong – such as Conservative MP, Dominic Raab. Who? That’s Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton. This MP has as much prominence in the blogesphere as he does on the backbench in Westminster (almost zero). Yes, we know how many times you speak-up in Parliament. They Work For You.com tells us!
This right-winger gives IDS a run for his money when it comes to the title of ‘Quiet Man’ of politics. The silence on Raab’s blog is deafening.
It seems Raab doesn’t want any of his constituents commenting on his blog at all. Oddly, he states his policy ‘is to publish all comments, unless abusive or anonymous’. So why haven’t more people posted comments? Are they all abusive? Almost none appear… just contrast Raab’s blog with Featherstone’s.
Forgive me for speculating, but perhaps it is because he filters out those comments that he just doesn’t like. Just a thought. (We’ve… ahem…done a few tests!).
Should we be surprised? Probably not. In August, Quiet Man told the political site, 38 Degrees, – a site that embodies the principles of the Hansard Society – to REMOVE his contact details from its very useful ‘Contact Your MP’ system.
Apparently,Quiet Man Raab was being awoken with messages from his constituents about REALLY IMPORTANT ISSUES THAT THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT! However, Raab had to come clean when it was revealed that he was getting an average of just TWO emails a day through ‘Contact Your MP’.