Response 534942384

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1. What is your name?

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Dipen Patel

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?

Each MP should have a social media page, or a constituency page which details all the activities of that MP. Considering in this country access to the internet has now become a necessity it should be important that there is a direct line of contact between a constituent and their MP. Currently it feels that MPs do not represent their local constituents and that they represent the party line, local views constantly change and this should be reflected in parliament. Using social media like Facebook and Twitter can help with direct contact with constituents by having opportunities for Q&A. It allows for views to be expressed continuously and these social media tools can include on-line polling. In a Californian district an organisation is trying to elect two congresspeople who will vote strictly based on local polling, if elected each citizen will receive a special login for which to show their vote. This is an example of innovative methods to represent local views, only time can tell whether this method works.

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

Social media will always enhance local links for MPs, it will pressure them to stay in contact with constituents. Whilst also allowing constituents' views to be represented it will allow the MPs to express their views in particular situations. Rather than issuing a press release, an update via social media can be a quicker response. Frankly not enough people (even people with interest in politics) know who their MP is, this in itself shows a disconnect between MPs and constituents.

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?

Crowd-sourcing is a positive thing. It allows for everyone's views to be accounted for, and it can help dissect problems which legislators may have missed. Whether or not pressure for direct democracy is a constitutional question that should be addressed but other methods need to be tried before asking that question. More involvement from the public is needed in all areas of parliament, including drafting legislation. An increase in participatory democracy is needed (jury duty but more flexible), an idea touted by the Greeks such as wiki law means that the collective intelligence of the public is always greater than the small grouped intelligence of legislators. More needs to be done to promote consultations like this one to the public, a lot of people will not know how to participate in the democratic process even if they want to, a lot of work is needed for a person to find out how to participate.

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

Democracy can be a dystopia if the wrong people people gain influence. This country has extremely relaxed lobbying laws and party funding needs more restrictions to prevent potential corruption. One-term MPs will use their time to do consultative work in the hopes of finding a better job at the end of their term. The problem will be is lobbyists will increase draft and manipulate legislation, we may end up with a system like USA where congress becomes ineffective and panders to their donors. If these issues can be addressed before they get out of hand we can have a well-working democracy which people can trust. First past the post is ineffective at representing people's views. I feel that this should change to Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) which is currently used in the German Bundestag and the Greater London Authority, it best reflects who the voters vote for and the representatives in the parliament, it may lead to rise of unfavourable parties, but they will have a right to have their views heard. MMP will provide a parliament which reflects the views of the entire country and voter composition, this will help people feel their vote means more.

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?

When newspapers announce their political allegiance, it will become less important. A lot of people get their information increasingly from political blogs and independent news media, the reason because they will cover items mainstream media ignore. When 50,000 march outside the houses of parliament and the BBC do not report it, people lose trust in traditional media to provide accurate news.

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

People need to know elections are taking place and the government should have a more active presence in promoting them. Youtube is a key resource that the parliament continuously under-use, it's ability to reach millions of people is key and helps spread messages very quickly. Revamping social media by providing easy to understand videos about elections and info-graphics can help spread information.

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?

It says a lot to current political parties that the most liked party in the UK is 'Britain First' an offshoot of the BNP. Parties should better utilise digital methods of communicating but there should be limits, such as no false information or defamatory information etc... It is important for information to be available to the public and access is easy, but over reaching can be an imposition which can undermine democracy. The problem is not everyone will know how a parliamentary candidate feels about a particular issue, thus there will be misinformation.