Response 1006875465

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1. What is your name?

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Michael Bolsover

Elected representatives

6. Members of Parliament are elected to represent local people’s interests in the House of Commons. How can the internet and social media help with this?

the MP's website should host local issue forums, and allow constituents to lobby their M.P. at a local level. This should incorporate any National and European issues too, and allow local issues to connect at the EU,UK, National, and Local levels, to make sure a consistent voice is heard from the electorate. An increased level of reporting on Voting and attendance at debates, and a breakdown of an MP's working time should be a matter of public record, along with any personal campaigns and policies the MP might be persuing.

7. Does social media enhance the local link for MPs, or undermine it by involving them in more national and international discussions?

As I said in question 6, I think it can only enhance the local voice if local, national and international representation are a bit more joined up, and we can lobby all representatives together, so that in Wales, our local Westminster MP (Conservative),Welsh Assembly AMs (Cons and Plaid and Lib Dems) and MEPs ( A right old mixture) hear the same opinions on matters that can be dealt with at all of these levels. It might even be useful to have a local co-ordinator in the style of 38 degrees, who can focus opinion into useful and constructive criticisms of policy, but ultimately give individuals an amplified voice that runs all the way to the top.

8. Use of interactive technology is increasing. Is this likely to increase pressure for more direct democracy, such as crowd-sourcing, referendums and citizens’ initiatives?

It is already happening, and it will evolve gradually. It can be hijacked by pressure groups and lobbyists, but that is already a characteristic of the historic parliamentary process. It just needs some safeguards to prevent extreme views getting out of hand. We still need a national consensus in the fundamental aspects of UK life, but it will mean that MPs and other elected representatives can no longer be complacent about issues that matter to their constituents, whether they voted for them or not

9. What will democracy look like in 15 – 20 years?

MPs and Councillors will have to ask constituents how they feel on an issue before voting on it themselves. They will have to justify their policy to those constituents, and be given a rating of how well they represented the local people. Party Politics will be weakened by this and it is no bad thing, as I have always regarded Westminster as the last refuge of bullying, where a culture of fear and favour await the M.P. who even dares to think about putting their constituents first, before the party line. I also think online voting will be a reality, once the security issues are sorted out, and that the mobile device will be the main way of interacting with politics online. Turnouts in elections would be higher if it was easier to cast that vote, and social media will engage more of the electorate in the issues of the day. It may well be that we need fewer MPs and levels of representation, if the local voice can be heard louder. Geographically defined constituencies may become an outdated way of representing individuals too. It could become a lot more interactive, and instantaneous, saving parliamentary time debating issues which ought never to have gone on the agenda, or road testing legislatory change more easily. I also hope that the dead hand of Whitehall is made more apparent, and that the unelected State apparatus is similarly held to account.

Information about politics

10. Most people still get most of their news from television, although this seems to be changing in favour of online information. Traditional news organisations are also changing. What impact will this have on elections and democracy in general?

The media will continue to have a huge influence on politics, but I hope that Newspapers one day will grow up, and not be so partisan on politics, but engage with and listen more to their readership ( Online and in print) I also feel that the same regulations on balance should apply to all "News" organisations. Online it is more difficult to filter extreme and unbalanced views, but I think care needs to be taken to uphold free speech, while promoting balance in the way political choices are presented to the electorate.

11. How can online provision of information about elections be improved, including details of where to vote, how to vote and the results?

Online voting needs to happen, via mobile eventually I'm sure, once security has been improved online. I also think a basic incentive to vote should be introduced even if it is just £10 off your mobile phone bill that month. People would not then be blasé about democracy, and turnouts would be higher and therefore more representative. You could make the voting process more interesting by having an online comparison of policies rather than just a set of names, so that all the manifestos were side by side with a common set of rules for their presentation.

Political campaigning

12. Can we expect continuous election campaigning through digital channels – what would citizens feel about that and would it undermine or strengthen representative democracy?

I think that people should be able to opt out of that through a single opt in or out choice, to avoid having to turn off each candidate one by one. Certainly no candidate should be able to spam their entire constituency, but when registering to vote, voters can chose whether to have information or not. Maybe the returning office can send a single email to each voter to inform them about the upcoming election, and perhaps a reminder on polling day, and invite them to read the maximum 200 word manifestos of the candidates. Allowing mass spam would undermine democracy and turn off voters completely.