Over the past 25 years we have lived through a revolution – created by the birth of the world wide web and the rapid development of digital technology. This digital revolution has disrupted old certainties and challenged representative democracy at its very heart. With social media sources such as Twitter, blogs and 24/7 media, the citizen has more sources of information than ever before, yet citizens appear to operate at a considerable distance from their representatives and appear ‘disengaged’ from democratic processes. The jargon and practices of the House can be alienating and the sheer weight of information about politics, now available, can act as a wall, keeping the citizen out of the mysterious world of Westminster.
An important part of the work for the individual holding the office of Speaker is to be a champion of democracy, an advocate for the House of Commons and a public catalyst for participation in politics. As Speaker I have tried to encourage greater participation in politics from the widest possible range of people. Hence, I established this unique Commission to consider the challenges and opportunities for our democracy that digital technology presents. Over the past year the Commission has heard a range of voices and actively sought the views of people outside the traditional political infrastructure.
I hope that you will find this report informative and thought-provoking, and see that the Commission has tried to set out the start of a roadmap for improving and opening up the workings of the House of Commons.
I would like to thank all the members of the Digital Democracy Commission for their energy and commitment over the last year and everyone who was involved in our inquiry via social media, participating in events, suggesting ideas and giving evidence.