We hear a lot about public consultation, but many people feel it is a tickbox exercise rather than a valid attempt at two-way symmetric communications. So it is interesting to see the Government losing a case brought by Greenpeace over the consultation involved in building nuclear power stations. Regardless of the issue or whether there are active campaigners, consultation should be genuine and information presented should not be misleading as was the case here.
The next question – is will they listen? With the current political proceedings aiming to curtail the Freedom of Information Act, it seems openness of government is seen as revealing things those in power wish would remain hidden. Rather than being viewed as a catalyst to improving operations.
If it wasn’t for the persistence of MP, Richard Bacon to gain access to information about travel expenses, there wouldn’t be public pressure at a local level as we’ve seen this week that should curb the most excessive claimants.
Similarly, will the 10 Downing Street website e-petition system be amended as a result of the embarrasment caused by the public opposition to tracking and charging motorists by the mile?
Public relations practitioners should support openness in government – it is important that communications is not treated as simply generating positive headlines or “burying bad news”.