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Thank you Stephen Coleman for sending this along ...


I welcome the invitation to contribute to this conference. As Chair of the
Cabinet Committee on E-Democracy, it gives me an opportunity to share with
you our thinking and to seek your help with our work. That work springs
from the confluence of two separate modern developments.
The first is the worrying decline in the participation rate in our
democracy. It is a worry captured in the title of this conference
Reviving Democracy. There would be no need to talk about reviving
democracy if democracy was already in good heart and robust health.

- clip -

... The strategic danger is that the public senses a loss of ownership of
the democratic process. Reviving democracy means restoring a sense of
ownership the public.

I mentioned a confluence of two modern developments. The other development
is the revolution in communication technology. It is a technology now so
commonplace that the time may have come to drop the word new as its
prefix. To most people under forty the e-mail and the text message are
routine parts of their life style, and they are mildly amused when
politicians of a certain age write with breathless excitement about
technologies they have just discovered. We have long passed the moment at
which the number of e-mails dispatched in Britain out-numbers the number
of letters posted.

There is a connection waiting to be made between the decline in democratic
participation and the explosion in new ways of communicating. We need not
accept the paradox that gives us more ways than ever to speak, and leaves
the public with a wider feeling than ever before that their voices are not
being heard. The new technologies can strengthen our democracy, by giving
us greater opportunities than ever before for better transparency and a
more responsive relationship between government and electors.

The Cabinet Committee on e-democracy was set up to make the connections
between government and public, which the new technologies offer. In this
context I do not mean government in its limited sense of a ministerial
collective. I use it to embrace all forms of public and accountable
authority, including all the diverse range of agencies, regulators and
quangos that make up modern government.


See article  URL above for full text.

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