In conjunction with Orange, an organisation called Future Technology has brought out a report entitled Future of Politics. Having spoken to MPs, think tanks, academics and bloggers, the report makes a number of conclusions:
- UK politicians will need to "keep up with a new generation of ‘digital natives’ who expect MPs to get up to date with 21st century technology so they can have two-way meaningful conversations with the public and not just a one way online presence through a static website."
- Prime Minister’s Questions could allow a regular slot where the public can ask questions. The report refers to "citizen politicians".
- "Wikilaws" will let the public follow the debate and scrutinise legislation in real time.
- MPs can be boosted by leading online campaigns and holding surgeries through digital technology.
- Following US President-elect Barack Obama’s success in raising $280 million from donations under $200, politicians here need to rely on mass participation, "not a few small donors".
This is an interesting report. Of course none of us can know exactly what the future holds (even if the future is orange), and it is debatable whether there really is demand for all this new technology among the public. Most blogs are nothing like as popular or important as some of their creators would have us believe. Moreover, it is worth considering whether it would be healthy for politicians to turn up to events (and the electorate to vote) online rather than in person.
More convincing is the argument that modern technology creates new opportunities to reach voters, raise money and boost a politician’s profile.
What do you think?
Update: The report can be downloaded here.