I recently attended an event at the Institute for Government where Beth Noveck discussed the use of citizen expertise in government. I still may do a blog post of my thoughts on the event but in the meantime Gavin Freeguard of the IfG has produced an excellent one which includes a video of the event.

During the Q&A I raised what I see as one of the key issues of policy creation and consultation. Both Parliament and government issue a number of consultations every year. How many people participate, the socio-economic breadth of the respondents and the effect of the consultations on policy is a conversation for another time.

The problem I raised is that politicians have to decide fundamental policy in opposition as they have to be able to campaign on them during elections. It’s possible that they will conduct consultation in opposition but the effectiveness of this, if measured, is not made public.

One possibility for increasing the breadth of consultation on opposition may be the introduction of online mechanisms for contributing – especially in terms of two-way conversations instead of one-way consultation submission.

This is why I think it is interesting to see one of the major parties in the UK has opened a consultation on how they should implement a system to do that in future.

Of course this won’t address the echo chamber effect or the long-standing decline in membership of political parties.

Personally, I have concerns about the whole long-term viability of adversarial politics (or “bloodsport” as Beth Noveck put it) but that’s a topic I’m planning to address is a few weeks.