Thursday, February 05, 2009

Doorstep challenge '09

A good while back I wrote here about trying to invert the common political process as we know it in Ireland whereby the candidate comes to your home and seeks to impress upon you what it is they are really, really interested in. My idea was along the lines of the public challenging the candidate on the issues that actually concerned the voter, (in particular I was hoping that people might challenge them with some outlandish topics, 'tis the fecking geese have the country ruined minister') and to record and upload them so we 'a merry band of polly anoraks' could get some jollies out of them. It didn't pan out as planned (I do say planned but that is more than a little overstating it, it was an idea that stayed overly on the vaporware) so we've not any content to look back on but the idea itself still has merit.

Now with the local and European elections fast approaching I've decided to revisit it with some novel changes in particular building on what William Wall had suggested with his citizens Manifesto. Welcome to the Doorstep Challenge 2009: for the moment I've just parked the site. The overall idea is somewhat different this time in that I would be inviting organisations, individuals, community groups whatever to send/upload a document/small leaflet that will then be available for any and all members of the public to download, print off and hand to the politician along with their contact details should they so desire. Or we could link to such documents that advocacy organisations already have on their sites. The site should be a sort of one stop shop for the concerns of voters.

The outcome should be that politicians can more easily gauge what it is that is really concerning people in their specific electoral area, and what they need to do in practical terms to get support. Rather than simply relying on the intensity of one or two doorstep experiences they have something measurable to work from. Of course, it would be my personal view that someone standing for election should be resolute enough to stay the course and not be deflected from doing the right thing or arguing for the right thing simply because they encounter some element of organised resistance. That said our system of governance is meant to be a process of constant engagement with lots of back and forth between the led and those purporting to be doing the leading. This initiative is very much about facilitating the public in providing their input to candidates in advance of making their choice about who to vote for.

The paper leaflet of course should be recycled by the candidate, and the content should be designed to be easily printed and, I think at least, be no more than one page of a leaflet (DL sized say) in size. Non-colour images might be best for now. We will perhaps to begin by limiting the file size of the content and we would stress that the content should be issue/topic based, and not about attacking individuals or even particular parties. I would very much prefer that it would be non-partisan to that regard.

As this is a dotcom we will be looking in due course to branch out beyond the local Irish political scene and in time offer different sections that might be used to cater for different countries and their electoral systems and set ups. Not much need for a doorstep challenge for list based electoral systems or might there be even more?

Anyway, it will be a little while before the site goes live but I'd be very interested in hearing comments.


Darren J Prior said...

It would be good if community organisations produced leaflets alright that were distributed to the general public. My residents association doesn't even produce one. It's a great idea but the idea would probably result in loads of individuals bringing out leaflets reflecting their own distorted views and then because they have gone to the effort of doing so they would think that they are more entitled to a response.

As I said it's a good idea. This LE will be the first LE that I will be busy probably canvassing with FG having already had the experience with Higgins in Dublin West in 04 and somewhat (not a lot) last year during the GE with FG. I will be working only in Mulhuddart I hope with Kieran Dennison because I believe that Eithne Loftus will get elected in Castleknock. It will be frankly impossible for us to canvass all of the Mulhuddart ward though. Maybe if all areas had good residents associations and maybe if all individuals made good use out of the internet when/if needed there wouldn't be a problem.

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