Thursday, 15 November 2007

Waiting for Gordo

I'm no political activist, nor wedded to any political party. But I'm not apathetic. I prefer my politics 'unbundled' and simply want to ensure that I'm getting real value for my tax spend - that the root causes of social problems are solved efficiently.

Research tells me that I am not alone, but what tools exist to help us achieve this?

Needless to say, the government of the day is particularly untrustworthy when it comes to demonstrating value for all the money we give it. The opposition are generally at the opposite extreme. The various media are concerned only with what is “news”, which is to say what they believe to be immediate, significant and topical - usually the posturing of the main political parties. And only the PR-skilled, lucky or very persistent ever get their message into the news. Like politicians and those who hire lobbyists.

The rest of us have been pretty much left with the National Audit Office, which provides great ammunition for everybody to use. But the NAO quite rightly focuses on how the government is currently spending or promising to spend our money now, and can't ever be seen to be using its fact finding and reporting as a basis for 'campaigning' for change.

So, it's up to us as citizens to find other ways of keeping the pressure on. But how?

Charities and other 'pressure groups' often do a good job of including the humble citizen in their activities e.g. Scope, Cancer Research, Oxfam. Otherwise, it's self-help.

Of course, "self-help" could mean voting, and even swapping your vote at the next General Election. But while you're waiting for our beloved Prime Minister to call one, you could get an overview of the problems as the politicians see them (and comment on your MP's blog), share your views with others via social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc), comments on blogs and email, participate with other vigilantes in our 'special relationship' with the US, sign up to a petition that proposes a solution to the root cause of your problem, write to the civil servants with your problem directly, or report an issue to your local council.

If there are other self-help measures, I'd love to hear of them.

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