General News

What will democracy look like 10 years from now?

Besi Besemar September 18, 2014

On the eve of the Scottish Referendum yesterday, Commons Speaker John Bercow and Green MP Caroline Lucas both asked young people: what will democracy look like 10 years from now?

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion: Photo by James McDonald: @jmcdphoto
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion: Photo by James McDonald: @jmcdphoto

House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow MP, joined Green MP for Brighton Pavilion,  Caroline Lucas yesterday to meet with young people and explore how digital technology can impact, and even shape, democracy.

The Digital Democracy Commission Workshop, an initiative of the Speaker, was hosted at the Brighton AMEX by Albion in the Community, the charitable arm of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. The workshop was held in partnership with Wired Sussex, DemSoc and Albion in the Community. It was part of the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy.

The MPs participated in a creative workshop morning with young people aged 15-23. The event was designed to allow the young people to explore how technology, from social media, online voting and phone Apps, can encourage better engagement in and transparency of politics.

The event was opened by Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and workshops and talks were held throughout the morning

With some guidance, the young people set the day’s agenda themselves, tackling issues from whether the voting age should be reduced, to the possibilities of inventing a political jargon-buster, a local voting and live legislation App, and sending questions to PMQs.

Caroline said: “I don’t believe that young people aren’t interested in politics – they’re disillusioned by what happens at Westminster, and I’ve been really grateful today to hear such honesty from them. Technology clearly has a significant role to play in getting people more engaged, making politics more accessible. It’s a wonderful tool, but I don’t think it’s the whole answer. There also has to be a genuine shift in Parliament – it needs to actively demonstrate that people’s views are heard. It needs to be fully representative, MPs need to be held to account – that’s why I’m backing the Right to Recall, so if an MP breaks a promise, their constituents can vote to have them recalled.”

The day’s final session saw the young people dream up and design their ideal democracy-boosting gadgets to help get people engaged in politics.

The young people fed back their ideas to the group after which Mr Bercow closed the event and the MPs took a tour of the stadium, and engaged in a brief ‘friendly match’ on the pitch.