Parliament and the public debate

Lord Soley

Further to Lord Norton’s entry below I also thought this debate was well worth while. Lords of the Blog is clearly attracting interest but we still do not have enough members taking part. I want to work on getting some more Lords blogging next year – that’s my New Year resolution! I also have to up my own game. I have fallen behind recently and need to make more entries and to reply to more points.


One of the most important points to come out of the Hansard and Information Office research into this blog is the percentage of young people participating. Well over 50% are between the ages of 18 and 34. The BBC and other main stream media tend to attract an older audience to their political broadcasts. Blogging is one of the few measures that get younger people involved. Younger people tend to be more issue oriented and are also very familiar with computer based conversations.


I referred to Derek Wyatt MP in the debate. He is well ahead of everyone else in communicating electronically with his constituents. It’s worth visiting his site to see the direction of travel.

5 comments for “Parliament and the public debate

  1. Tim
    19/12/2008 at 1:26 pm

    I think an integral part of a successful blog is the comments section.

    In particular I mean comments by other experts or by other regular bloggers. For example, one Lord adding their opinion to the comments of another’s article.

    This, I would suggest, helps create a more lively debate as it keeps the debate in one place (rather than comments being split across several blog posts).

    On a seperate point, I access this blog via Google Reader, an RSS aggregator, and it tells me that there are just 158 subscribers via Google Reader to this blog.

    I subscribe to many varying feeds, and if I don’t read an article it tends to be because the headline hasn’t grabbed my attention – in fact I missed the original article by Lord Norton on this subject because it was ambiguously titled “Contribute to the Debate…”.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that to maximise participation on this site each blog post needs to be clamouring for attention in order to be heard above the noise of the overall blogosphere.

    Once attention has been grabbed then having lively debates that involve many experts putting their oars in should help retain that attention.

  2. Adrian Kidney
    19/12/2008 at 1:48 pm

    My Lord,

    It is interesting that you remark on the increasingly ‘issue-oriented’ mind of the younger members of society. I think this is an accurate portrayal of many people’s attitudes today. What effect do you (and other noble Lords) think this will have on Parliament in the future?

    A concern is that people are switching off from voting in elections as they fail to be drawn in to ‘catch-all’ political parties, and so prefer to focus on being passionate for one or two particular issues. I myself feel like one of these, but still take pride in voting. Others may not be the same. Do you think the legitimacy or relevance of Parliament could come under threat from this new attitude to politics?

  3. Claire
    19/12/2008 at 5:51 pm

    This is by far one of the most fascinating and enjoyable blogs that I have stumbled upon in a long while. I wish my American Congress had something similar to this. Please keep it up!

  4. Noodles
    20/12/2008 at 12:32 pm

    The unique review by Peers of the comments section makes this the most rewarding blog to comment on. While it might be more demanding for the contributor it is definately more rewarding for those who read and comment.

    I am, hwoever, concerned generally by the idea that young people are single issue based. I have a number of issues i’m concerned about and don’t feel that the parties represent them very well. However, i am unwilling to write to my MP, or a nearby MP with my Party perspective about them!!!

    Thats why I think the value of this blog, and other alternative methods of communication are so essential.

    A potential challenge could be seen from your above comment about engaging with young people is enable more issue based communication. Perhaps through better publicity and communication of All Party Groups and equivilents

  5. Clive Soley
    22/12/2008 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you for the interesting and supportive comments. I started to blog as an MP in 2003 but I still find it difficult to predict how the various new media forms will affect Parliament and the political parties.

    I think we just have to keep up with the technology and adapt to changing demands. I don’t think we can replace Parliament or other legislative bodies with the new media but it can inform and influence decisions and that’s important.

    I have no problem with issue based politics but I would urge people to join or at least engage with the political parties. None of us agree totally with our own party programme – we do have to compromise but without political parties democracy as we know it could not function.

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