Wednesday, January 14, 2004

As the dramatisation of the Alan Clark Diaries hits the screen, Barry Griffiths e-mails with news of an upcoming event in Westminster looking at the new generation of memoir-keeping Parliamentarians.

Barry is Project Manager for the Hansard Society's e-democracy programme. The programme "is exploring the potential for interactive technologies to enhance Parliamentary democracy and create new channels of communication and participation between Parliament and citizens."

Given that only four out of 10 registered electors bothered to turn out for the 2001 general election -- the lowest figure since 1918 (Source: The Guardian) -- any attempt to engage voters in the parliamentary process must be welcome.

I can't get to the debate on January 27th because I'll be in Washington but for anyone interested in going along, here are the details:

The All Party Group for e-Democracy, administered by the Hansard Society, have just agreed a new format for the group meetings modelled on the Select Committee style inquiry.

There will be two sessions; the first open to the public and envisaged as evidence gathering. The second for members only to look into the evidence and the report will be written by the special advisor to the group, Professor Stephen Coleman, at the end of the inquiry.

The first inquiry of the APPG will be held on Tuesday 27th January 2004, from 5.30-7.00pm in the Boothroyd room, Portcullis House. The topic of the inquiry is "MPs and Blogging" which aims to look into the pros and cons of members keeping diaries.

Though the focus would be on new media we thought the debate might cover MPs experiences of how keeping a traditional diary has affected their political careers especially near election time. Issues such as the importance of staying connected with citizens and accountability of elected representatives will be addressed.

We think that the speakers will be an excellent contrast to each other as they each favour different ways of keeping people informed.

There will be four keynote speakers: Tony Benn, Tom Watson MP, Clive Soley MP, and James Crabtree, Director, iSociety, The Work Foundation followed by a Q and A session.


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