Engaging with voters the old fashioned way

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.



Filed under Politics

2 responses to “Engaging with voters the old fashioned way

  1. Jane

    I like it. I wish my MP would undertake a similar exercise. I even wish that it was compulsory for all MPs to have E Mail addresses. I have to resort to pen and ink to contact mine which means that I bypass him and go to Ministers direct regarding policy issues. Last year I contacted the Treasury regarding the likely effects of the removal of the 10p tax band. I wonder if my actions are common?

    It seems to me that if we are trying to engage all in the democratic process (and increase public satisfaction with their representatives)there is much that can be done. Public meetings indicate that you are interested in listening to the community and not just activists. Must be good as I think many MPs are out of touch with their communities.

    I wish all MPs used websites so that we had the ability to offer our views on legislation, policy, community concerns, whether press reports are accurate etc etc.

    Good luck tonight. I hope the hall is full!

  2. Thanks, Jane. I’m not optimistic but I’ll try to post here with a report.

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