Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Prime Minister's speech on transforming politics

The Prime Minister has given a speech on transforming politics in which he set out the next steps of the Government's programme of constitutional and parliamentary reform. He also spoke about the importance of citizen empowerment through opening up government and and reducing the time taken to release official documents:
But the test of our commitment to democracy is not merely the changes we make to the institutions at the centre: it is how far we are prepared to give power away; to give citizens themselves greater control over their lives.

That is why citizen empowerment must be at the heart of the new politics I want to see.

That means opening up government, with much more control and information held by the public and not concentrated in Westminster and Whitehall. Over and above our commitment to transparency through FOI we are committed to progressively reducing the time taken to release official documents - ensuring the public have access to public papers far quicker than ever before.

And we can now open up government in new transformative ways not open to us a decade ago.

We have brought public services closer to people in the internet age through the website.

And last year I invited Sir Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, to work with us on opening up even more government information to all the people of the country.

In a short space of months we have now created which already opens over 2,500 data sets to enable people to hold us to account and make decisions about their public services - from monitoring traffic accidents locally to seeing how your local schools are performing.

But this is just the start of creating new, more transparent public services and public sector bodies.

Public services will not only be more personal in future but they will be more interactive - with the ability of the citizen enhanced to make their views known directly and influence the way our communities work.

Already as a result of the Berners Lee /Shadbolt initiative a transformation is at work. A myriad of applications are being developed on the web by citizens for citizens – new websites on health, education, crime and local communities - that inform, enrich and enliven our democracy. It is truly direct democracy in action.

Over the next few months we will be releasing more and more information; we will make it easier to link different datasets together so that you can assess the overall picture of public services in your community; and Nigel Shadbolt is working with local government to extend the same principles there.
A transcript of the speech, delivered at 'The New Politics' event hosted by IPPR on 2 Feb 2010 at the RSA, is available here and video here.

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