A couple of years ago I tried out a radical new idea to engage voters. I held a public meeting and invited anyone on the electoral register to turn up and ask me any question they liked, without giving advance notice of what the question was. The idea was to try to turn round the notion – sometimes justified – that politicians will only open themselves up to questions and criticisms in controlled environments where everything is expected and can be planned for.
It was a modest success. About 50 people attended (and the only trouble-makers in the audience were all pensioners!). It was billed as my “annual general meeting” and tonight I’m repeating the exercise.
Setting aside the obvious question (if it’s an annual meeting, why did you wait two years for the next one? Hope no-one asks me that), it will be interesting to see if recent events will encourage people to turn up to vent their anger, or if apathy is now so ingrained that people will simply stay at home.
Of course, if there’s a low turnout, I will assume that everyone is content with the job we’re doing as a government and that they have no criticisms to make.