Feel you don’t have a say in important decisions? Do you despair at Trump, or flinch at the oncoming car-crash of Brexit, but don’t know what to do? Well why not join a local meet-up group and get involved in Open Government?
If you haven’t heard of it, Open Government is a global movement where governments work alongside civil society to make it easier for all of us to see, participate in and evaluate important decisions which affect our lives.
Sounds quite straight forward right? Well, not really when you think governments at local, national and international level have operated for centuries on a closed, need to know basis – “Trust us, we know what’s right.”
But increasingly we are seeing a drive from many individuals, communities and sections of society to have more of a say on what really matters. Trust in politicians and institutions has been low for some time and many people are, quite rightly, demanding more from democracy than just the opportunity to vote now and again.
As a society we no longer accept a narrow elite group of individuals, often unrepresentative of the general population, making important decisions, in closed rooms, with no clear lines of redress. This is also happening at a time when technology is making it ever quicker and simpler for us to connect with ideas and people from around the globe.
This is a global movement, but it’s developing quickly in Scotland. In 2015 the Scottish Government signed up to be an Open Government ‘Pioneer’, producing an action plan to increase openness, transparency and citizen participation.
This is a good start, with ambitious targets, but to achieve the progress that we want to see, we all need to get involved in the Open Government conversation, to make it as inclusive and participatory as possible.
We’ve been using the meet-ups platform and have so far set up groups in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.
In fact, there’s a meet-up on Monday 6 November at the DCA in Dundee 6-7pm, which will be the third coming together of this diverse group, keen to work collectively for local improvements, such as a simpler system for Community Asset Transfers.
However if you don’t live in either of the three cities listed above but want to get involved, then please set up your own local groups! Feel free to contact me on email@example.com if you have any questions – and remember, it is for all of us to take this forward, not just one organisation.
The goals are ambitious, the challenge is huge, but the movement in Scotland is growing. Make sure you get involved and have your voice heard.