Weekend elections? Vote y/n here…

I like voting on a Thursday.  The reason for voting on a Thursday isn’t very obvious, but I can’t think of a better day.  The Ministry of Justice though are looking for reasons to move elections to the weekend or not. They’ve opened a consultation today on weekend voting and Read more…

be a councillor

LondonCouncils have a launched www.beacouncillor.org.uk promoting the role of councillors and presenting them as young, diverse and interesting individuals. It’s a fine looking site but would be improved by allowing people to ask questions and have them answered by existing councillors.  No, you have to turn up on July 12th Read more…

The Sharing President (ial Candidate)

The Obama08 campaign doesn’t stop amazing me.  Today Michelle Obama emailed me to show me a video (shared via YouTube of course) from The Bronx High School for Performance and Stagecraft in a tough part of the Bronx (are there wimpy parts of the Bronx??). The video is incredibly natural.  Read more…

Coleman connects on Citizenship

That arch-sceptic of bloggers, Professor Stephen Coleman, has succumbed to the lure of blogging (for a week at least) as a guest blogger on Connecting Bristol. He’s just returned from an intellectually challenging conference in Amsterdam to pose some points about the changing nature of citizenship: 1. The rules of Read more…

Your Personal President(ial Candidate)

The Obama08 campaign have always made a big deal out of the fact that they raise all their funds from ordinary citizens whereas Clinton and McCain have taken millions of dollars from lobbyists and political action committees. The latest sales promotion that the Obama campaign are using is the chance Read more…

Free Our Bills

MySociety, of TheyWorkForYou and WhatDoTheyKnow fame have started the Free Our Bills campaign to get Parliament to provide upcoming bills online in a structured data format so that anyone can publish, compare, comment or do whatever they like on them easily and quickly. So far MySociety’s attempts to persuade Parliamentary Read more…

What on earth do they mean by democracy then?

The government seems to be having problems with the human embryology and fertilisation bill. It appears they were intending to apply the whip, but Catholics, in particular, are objecting and calling for a free vote. One quote in this article really caught my attention, Denis MacShane, a former Europe minister, Read more…

5 Principles of a Constitution

One of the highlights of the empowerment symposium in February was going for dinner and sitting between Phil Booth, from NO2ID and Carolyn Lukensmeyer from AmericaSpeaks.  Amongst other things we talked about the previous symposium in Budapest and I went on as usual about how inspiring a speaker had been.  Read more…

Does Unitary Consultation mean you take just one side?

"Once again, the citizens have disappeared."

Michael Ancram, MP, Devizes.

Yesterday the House of Commons held the first debate about the Local
Government changes – the approval of unitary status for a number of
councils around the country.  The first debate was about Wiltshire, our
home county.

From reading the debate it would seem that the Government has based its decision to form a unitary Wiltshire County Council based on the ease of working of a variety of bodies and organisations and ignored strong evidence that the citizens of Wiltshire opposed the change. I’ve highlighted some of the salient parts from the TheyWorkForYou rendition of Hansard.

"The citizens did not disappear. …  There were probably more people in favour of maintaining district
councils and not moving to a unitary council than there were in favour
of a unitary council. Nevertheless, about a third of the public who
offered a view could see the merit of a unitary Wiltshire and would
like that to happen."

John Healey, Minister of State (Local Government)

So the citizens didn’t disappear but the government choose to ignore them in favour of the views of other stakeholders as described by the County Council who had proprosed unitary status.

"[ask] whether the Government took any steps to authenticate [the evidence produced by the councils submitting a proposal]?"

Simon Hughes, MP, North Suffolk and Bermondsey

"we, as a Government Department, did not undertake any direct opinion polling or checking of residents’ views on the proposal."

John Healey, Minister of State (Local Government)

But the government didn’t check what they said was true. 

"the district auditor stated in response:

"I agree with you that it"—

a press release issued by the county council—

"represents a misinterpretation of the MORI findings. "

Andrew Murrison, MP, Westbury

Even though the District Auditor felt that the county had been mis-representing findings.

I don’t want to get into the debate about whether Wiltshire should abandon the two-tier system or not,


Congratulations to Ben Wallace MP

Ben Wallace MP is the first MP to publish details of his expenses.  Right down to the £1 parking charge.  It is really dull stuff, but really important.  People are naturally cynical in this country, so if an MP declines to publish their expenses then the assumption is that they Read more…

%d bloggers like this: