OPINION3 August 2010

Is anybody listening?

The UK’s new government has been keen to position itself as one that listens, using crowdsourcing in high-profile attempts to garner comments and suggestions. But questions are already being asked about whether it really wants to hear ideas.

The UK’s new government has been keen to position itself as one that listens, using crowdsourcing in high-profile attempts to garner comments and suggestions on its legislative programme, on planned public sector spending cuts and on unnecessary laws that should be repealed.

But government consultation exercises have a chequered reputation, and questions are already being asked about whether the new administration really wants to hear ideas.

The Guardian reports this morning that the 9,500 online comments on the government’s programme have resulted in zero changes to policy. In responses published “without publicity” various govenrment departments have, for the most part, either interpreted comments as an endorsement of existing policy or dismissed them.

Were the public’s suggestions too daft to be of any use? Were the government’s policies so perfectly honed that there was nothing we could add? Or was government not as interested in hearing constructive criticism as it thought it was?

Simon Burall, director of Involve, a not-for-profit body promoting public engagement, told the Guardian: “You have to give the government some credit for trying to do this, but badly designed consultations like this are worse than no consultations at all.”

It doesn’t bode well for the ongoing ‘Spending Challenge’ and ‘Your Freedom’ consultations.

In Burall’s words, trying to take credit for listening to people without actually doing it will only “diminish trust and reduce the prospect that people will engage again”.

@RESEARCH LIVE

3 Comments

10 years ago

Government consultation is not about listening to "stakeholders" and then developing poicy taking thier views into account. It is part of a defensive mechanism so that when they are being criticised they are able to say that their policy/actions are the result of consultation. Most of the time they have made up their minds what they are going to do.

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10 years ago

They are not carrying out consultation. They are using Crowdstamping.

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10 years ago

They are not carrying out consultation. They are using Crowdstamping.

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