Friday, March 30, 2012

Unlock Democracy: applying napalm to my very own burning bridge

I have already touched upon the issue of the declared rules for the internal elections to the Council of Unlock Democracy. At the time, Ros did suggest that I might regret addressing the issue in such a blunt manner and, as usual, she was right.

However, constancy to a set of principles is important too, and my friends will know that I've banged on about internal democracy for many years. To me, it is critical to an informed and participatory society. But I have agreed to disagree with most of my fellow Council members, if only to acknowledge the fact that we all have our own reasons for taking the stances we do.

What I do object to is some of the reactions of individuals. It appears that, to at least one of them, the idea of blogging is cause for ridicule, and that the notion that I might wish to express an opinion other than that of the group is somehow strange. Another has expressed the view that use of social media will discriminate against some candidates and, whilst I entirely see where the view stems from, it does appear to represent an equally valid argument against the use of social media in public elections, surely not a notion most would endorse.

But the final blow to morale was the comments placed on both of my recent blog entries, which were clearly a 'cut and paste' job.

So, to save them the trouble...
Unlock Democracy's internal election regulations are decided by our members. The rules are designed to provide a level playing field and to prevent wealthier candidates from having too great an advantage. The current rules were set before Facebook and Twitter were in widespread use.
Any member concerned about these rules could have submitted a standing order amendment to our AGM.  No-one did so. We are keen to encourage as many members as possible to stand for election. For more details see our website:

There are times for irony, times for sarcasm, and times for despair. And once you've dealt with those, it's time to move on...


James Graham said...


The reason I placed that standard response to you and other blogs yesterday was to correct some basic misconceptions in as dispassionate and neutral a manner as possible. As members of staff we can only enforce the constitution and advise on how it may be changed; once you have made your decision there is very little we can do.

Being a member of both council and management board puts you in a very privileged position: especially when it comes to the employment status of myself and other members of staff. I would plead with you to recognise that it is also a responsibility. If we dispute basic assertions you make we cannot do so in public. At best we can make the odd official response. That isn't complacency; it is professional restraint. I would urge you to apply the same.

Mark Valladares said...


I cannot, and will not, fault any staff member on this point, and acknowledge that you are acting as the organisation sees fit. That is right and proper.

I have expressed my own view on events, and this will doubtless blow over in time, and not much of it either.

Over the period that I have served as a member of Unlock Democracy's Council, I have tried to respect the pre-existing culture of the organisation. It, and it's predecessors, have a history which I am not a part of, and that history informs much of its collective approach. It also has a future, which will doubtless be one that will help to change our society for the better. What it doesn't need is rogue bureaucrats rampaging across the scenery.

Time to stop then, I think...