Tom Steinberg has recently made headlines here in the UK with the announcement that he will be acting as an unpaid advisor to the Conservative Party to help them use technology to engage with people and make government more open and efficient. https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8290181.stm
It is looking increasingly likely that the Conservative Party will win the next General Election in the UK. And in anticipation of that victory they are publicly commiting to engage with the public more and make data more accessible to everyone. Surely – these are laudable goals whatever ones political loyalties. And surely it is good news that a government in-waiting is openly recognising the power that new technologies can bring in enhancing democracy.
Yet soon as the announcement was made, -Tom was roundly criticised for associating with a political party. Fair enough to one extent. Except that as far as I know no one in democratic engagement circles in the UK has ever been criticised for helping the Labour Party use new technology to engage with citizens. My point here is not so much one of double standards but rather of the danger of ‘politicising’ what strikes me as an obvious good – namely encouraging governments of all stripes to improve the democratic process. What do you think?