“It’s up for grabs now,” hollered a disbelieving football commentator Brian Moore as Michael Thomas careered through the Liverpool defence in injury time of the final game of the season. Within seconds, the midfielder had bundled the ball over a bamboozled Bruce Grobbelaar and my beloved Arsenal had wrenched the title from the home side’s grasp. This sentiment is how I feel about society right now.
My two kids live in an unrecognisable society, in many ways, to the one I was born in – 1966, hence BundyBoy66! No Pythonesque “you were lucky…” here because to me it’s just different, yet common themes remain core in our narrative: inequality is rising, groups of people demonised, the World’s at war, disaffection all around, I could go on… This is my first quick foray into the ‘blogosphere’ and I want to inject some positivism into these austere and challenging times.
Being part of the fantastic team who coordinated Local Democracy for Everyone – We’re not in Westminster any more in Huddersfield 7th Feb 2015 reminded me what’s at stake and who’s up for it. The room was packed with young people, the experienced, Cllrs, reps from all sectors – all looking to make a difference. A number of great blogs have been written about the event, many key ones captured here – top job Spencer!
Wider than #notwestminter (which trust me will become a force for change!) is how collectivism/community and democracy can be enhanced by Digital. It is no panacea but I really see it as one of the key ways democracy can go back to grass roots and increase citizen engagement. Here’s a practical example from one the participants at #notwestminster voXup – check out this cracking idea! The point being that Digital has the potential to empower, democratise and equalise; however for me, whether you work for a PLC, charity, social enterprise, local council etc. it needs to be based on a public service ethos!
I’m lucky to have an incredibly varied job which involves projects such Social Value, Diversity and Equality, supporting the VCS, Community Cohesion. All of these areas have massive challenges, however whether it’s because or in-spite of our current adverse times I get the sense people not only need but want change.
Digital can and will help with the required transformation. The recent Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy report has some great recommendations; my favourite being having a secure on-line voting option by 2020. YEAH…why not! My focus though is local and no criticism intended but voting is an ‘output’ greater citizen engagement is an ‘outcome’.
I’ll sign off for now, suffice to say let’s ignore the shouts about apathy and disengagement; a massive part of the future is how all institutions/bodies go where the people are – not forgetting the dangers of exclusion, increasingly Digital is where it’s at. Change is coming…I love this TED Talk on Upgrading our Democracy.
Believe me, the future – “It’s Up for Grabs Now!”