So what is political engagement? Traditionally, it’s meant turning up to cast a ballot in elections, maybe running for the council and joining a party. But in a digital age it means a lot more. We can readily sign petitions, communicate and build movements on social media, speak directly to our MPs online and watch a live stream of what is being debated in Parliament. Theresa May has even turned herself into a Youtuber in the last few days [let’s see if that continues]. There are sites which claim to fit your policy ambitions to the policies of the political parties to help you vote. There are grassroots organisations like More United and Citizens UK which help you construct local campaigns to fit the causes you care about.
This is all very well and good, but it seems that politicians are unwilling to take advantage of these new communicative techniques. They can also be gamed by malicious actors. The petition to cancel Brexit and Article 50 received over 6 million signature was quickly dismissed by government.
Joining me is James Young and Bess Mayhew. James has been with us a couple of times before and is a BBC3 technology presenter. Bess is the CEO of More United which is a movement making politics fit the 21st century. More United runs grassroots campaigns that connect people directly with MPs from different parties who are prepared to work together on issues they agree on. So far they have grown to 150,000 people and have worked with over 50 MPs.
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