An independent analysis of the role of Digital Communication in delivering good Government.
A new Britain…..
A collective responsibility
The degree of success in implementing Government policy, at home and abroad, will be directly linked and its benefits, proportional to, the Truth of the policies and the imagined/perceived, personal input of the beneficiaries. It is the role of Communication to act as a catalyst in identifying and resolving shades of opinion, some of which may be different colours of opinion and some of which may be at opposite ends of the visible colour spectrum. It is the role of Communication to unify all shades and colours into white light.
It is not merely a Government tool, it is a lot more powerful than that
It is a tool FOR Government.
In a governance context, some may consider it may have an application based upon a “regime change” mindset but one must be advised that it can also be used successfully to bring about “change” within an already established democracy or an enthusiastic, developing democracy. Those Governments, which choose to deny individual freedoms, such as the basic and fundamental rights to free speech and the exchange of ideas, will exclude themselves from the benefits inherent in its acceptance. It is to be hoped that mutual trust, common sense and a willingness to assist them in setting up THEIR OWN democratic model, will allow them to embrace and benefit from democratic governance principles. Countries which have established a semblance of order, especially through centuries, if not millennia, of democratic endeavour, and who wish to advance the process, have nothing to fear and everything to gain from the new technology and its continuing development. And although this makes a very strong case for nations to “control” all Communications media so that “irregular” use does not impinge upon and threaten the fundamental values upon which that national identity is based, it can also be a very potent indicator, to every other nation, as to a nation’s “intent”.
All the above sentiments and an ability to physically assist in the establishment of these democratic principles and services is dependent upon the necessary digital infrastructure being in place, in order to convey to everyone the way in which they are moving. This will allow those who see a difficulty to be able to COMMUNICATE, thus rendering the historical conflict phase, unnecessary
The pre-eminent role to be played by Communication cannot be stressed enough. Here, in the “civilized” West, we still have our “difficulties” and this document, and subsequent, more focused and specific documents, will apprise you of the opportunities which I see to address and successfully “manage” them, through the adoption of a transparent Communications strategy. In its appraisal of these opportunities, I would like HM Government to consider them as …. another string to their bow. The “virtual” nature of this workplace NEEDS the “reality check” which is Government to implement any solutions. Government is not the final arbiter, it is the ONLY arbiter.
In essence, we find out what everybody wants and we give it to them ……… as long as it doesn’t harm anyone or anything, including oneself. Dissention, in the form of constructive criticism, is a valid and helpful input. Disinformation is something which we do not tolerate.
It is required to think of Communication as a service available to all. Under our present system of confrontational party politics, it would be very worrying to think of a successful and effective Communications regime as being the brainchild of any particular party and also less than helpful if that Communications regime were to be “unavailable” or perceived to be “party specific” should there be a change in Goverment. Adversarial and confrontational politics may be an inheritance thrust upon us and whether we consider it to be an anachronism in need of revision is a question for the future, but it is the role of Communication to gather all informations for evaluation, allowing for a broadly unified Government policy statement to be formulated and made available. Once all informations are known, the consensus of opinion will be apparent. It is these policy statements which define a Government and a Government which espouses policies at odds with the majority view, will not prevail.
A Government cannot govern without Communication. Better Communication, better Government.
The Government Communications Review Group Interim Report – 27th August 2003, recognizes and highlights quite specific areas of weakness within the Communication machine, as it presently relates to Government, particularly at the centre and the Civil Service. It recognizes that, ironically, there is a lack of “most effective communication” across government and it is this “most effective communication” which is also lacking in providing the media with their news stories. “Most effective communication” within Government, at the centre, is to be expected. The Cabinet idea is based upon this concept. Broadening its base across Government and the Civil Service, into the media and the thus into the population is the role of Communications
The news media, and I make no distinction here as to which medium, are one of the most effective, if not THE most effective way for Government to disseminate their message to their own people and to the world at large. And it is FREE. It is also a valuable tool for Governments in discovering those who would seek to undermine a particular process, especially if that particular process has a sizeable majority support.
Government policies are not based upon random, ad hoc views but are formulated from information supplied. In a situation where there is a significant majority [and it may be as low as 60/40] “negative” opposition may struggle to survive in the face of a truthful and transparent media machine. Their “negativity” will blossom into concerns, which we can then allay. A allayed concern may remain as a difference of opinion, which can be enjoyed and shared as an individuals right of free expression. A difference of opinion is no basis for conflict and should find no sympathetic ear. A strength in a “most effective communication” regime will be a zero tolerance of disinformation, as it exposes itself as disinformation.
It is not contradictory to now say, in agreement with The Government Communications Review Group Interim Report, that seemingly major random, ad hoc reviews of government policy to Communication are necessary. These may prove to be even radical given the nature of the digital medium with which/in which we now work.
In fact, it may be the case that radical is the only way to go, to deliver and develop a New Britain.
The ideas put forward here are proposals for virtual Government, which is pretty heady stuff. But they are valid and real. And it breaks new ground. And it can be done today. It is only a matter of commitment.
My next proposal, which I have yet to put to paper and share with you, but which I will send to you before the weekend, will allow you to test out the water, so to speak, even while you consider and consult with those whom you think should be interested.
Its influence is so profound that it is something which may need to be considered by all the major political figures of the day. Fortunately, it is a technology and ideology open and freely available to all. As the flow of information, its analysis and dissemination increases, differences in interpretation will decline significantly and a common way forward will emerge. In a Government context, what will emerge will be a National Consciousness and it will unite a nation. It is the emergence of such a consciousness which the Government is trying to instill in those who would seek asylum, sanctuary and residence in Great Britain. It is also not to be taken for granted that we know who we are and what we are capable of. We can all benefit from knowing the Truth, which can be seen as the role of Communication.
In its thinking, ably conveyed in “9.The Role for the Centre”, The Government Communications Review Group Report outlines a practical framework for allowing the existing institutions to function, so as not to interrupt the workings of Government but it also recognizes that the existing structures are inadequate for the tasks ahead. They have served us well but we have moved on, and they need to be upgraded.
The upgrade is not in hardware or in software but in “peopleware”. We need to make people more AWARE of the nature of Reality. And we can do this through Virtuality.
Digital Communication uses Virtuality to deliver Reality.
To spin or not to spin …. is not even maybe a question. It is a statement. The very nature of the game we play makes “to spin or not to spin” an irrelevance. It is after all the name of the game. Government is no more than a toy for those who govern but it is no plaything and the more people who realize the pressures and implications in delivering good governance and Government, the easier the task will become.
The most vital role for Communications in Government, and this should be a constant review process, is to have in place, within Government and equally importantly, within the Civil Service, men and women who KNOW how and why they are doing what they are doing.
At the top, the game is relatively easy. You do not get to play the game unless you recognize it and court it, which is just as well, because it can quite literally drive you crazy or drive you to suicide or both.
It is my contention that neither of these two things should happen because of an ignorance of what we can now do and it is the role of Government to actively promote, through every means possible, the nature of Digital Communication and to benefit from the opportunities it presents for a better, more prosperous and secure Future… a New Britain.
Delivering the Goods……… How?
It is more than a simple strategy of education within the Civil Service and Government as it is vital that all can, and should, benefit. It is necessary that it is “inclusive” and a lack of means should not prevent participation in and a realization of the professed goals. But let us be perfectly clear about this before we start thinking about the “How”….The rules are that there are no rules and we will change them to suit our needs …because to succeed is the goal. There is NO other option.
A nation’s future is being shaped by the compassionate use of Communication and a responsibility and concise methodology in this field in delivering a noticeable difference to the lives of her subjects will attract to Britain the “right” stuff and galvanize a lot more than one nation, Great Britain.
It is not a case of inventing anything new or proposing “a CHANGE”. We already have something which works, after a fashion, and we call it, democracy. It is NOT really what we presently have, of course, but we can get there. We are close.
“Democracy”…….government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
Digital technology, which is Communications, allows us to plan for a future which we can set out, as a blueprint for all to comment on, before we proceed, as we are proceeding. Fears and concerns can be addressed immediately, through inter-reaction within the “new” transparent nature of the Communication and revisions and actions are quickly and easily assimilated and propagated by all the media outlets.
Rather than being simply reactive [reporting the news], the media can also become pro-active [making the news].
If everyone shares their view for the future, we will know what they want. And the ubiquitous personal computer and digital television can tell them what we want. And the ubiquitous personal computer and digital television can tell them what they want, which will be what we want.
Such is the Power available to democratic Governments which understand the control issues of Digital Communication.
With its elected Assembly, Parliament, the Civil Service, the Armed and Security services, the BBC, government sponsored web sites, newsprint media and sympathetic and forward thinking business leaders all encouraged and made aware of the true potential offered to us through this relatively new digital technology, we are only limited by our imagination. The present state of affairs is as above. If one thinks about where imagination comes from, it can be very comforting to think of it as coming from the future as the role of Government is one of making a future
The Government cannot ignore this brave new world. It is a controlled, ideas rich environment and its potential, in every sense of the word, is enormous. The possibility that Great Britain…New Britain is at the forefront of “a new age”, “a new industrial revolution” is the responsibility which we now face and must decide upon. The impact it is going to have, globally, is staggering because all we are going to do is to make better use of existing and emerging technologies and processes, in the light of an understanding of what we are doing. We have everything that we need but we just use it rather badly.
But I have saved the best bit, for the end of this document. And it gives you an insight into this brave new world and the role which the humble personal computer, which is only a communication tool, can play. This area of play is more “sensitive” than the preceding “white propaganda” initiative. It is indicative of the moral and social judgments which are going to have to be made.
The human brain can be visualized as a computer database and it is either a database which has grown and evolved and been upgraded over millennia and this knowledge has been passed down through generations, or it is a database which we are born with and we access it through our conscious efforts to know more. DNA is a “footprint” which we leave behind. Access to material containing DNA can identify us individually and apparently uniquely and we now routinely use it reactively, to identify those who have done harm to us. The personal computer and its digital cousins can assist us in identifying those who would do us harm before the act, and we will be able to change their way of thinking before they act, because we know them and we can counsel them. Those who resist our attempts at acceptable social integration must accept their exclusion from society as their price to pay for their individual freedom. But they will also have a further role to play. A role which will be beneficial to the society which looks after them. Nobody is going to be denied.
And it must only be the beginning because the Digital Age is still an infant.
Now, having read this document, I invite you to read and reflect upon the following two stories/reports. It can bring a sense of perspective, direction and unity to all three offerings and your own thought processes:
If a policy is wrong, no amount of spinning will make it better/W.F.Deedes/Filed 05/09/2003 Telegraph/Opinion
Downing Street is forced to deny attack on “potty” Prime Minister/Toby Helm/Filed 18/07/2003 Telegraph/News
……just when we were thinking it was something new. Personally speaking, I find it comforting.