The other democratic event today

If anyone doubted that politics was always bigger than the political class that has come into disrepute, today is the day. It is the Scottish Referendum, but hundreds of miles further south, I am participating in an other democratic experiment… called NHS Citizen.

NHS Citizen is a work in progress and will eventually be a participation infrastructure for NHS England, where participants can become citizens of the NHS, not just consumers of its services. Through NHS Citizen, the idea is that people are more able to hold the Board to account, set the agenda for discussions, and find others with shared interests – all in an open, transparent and public environment.

The lead design agency is Involve, the recognised national centre of expertise in public participation and open government and a small charity that is led by Simon Burall and of which (to declare my interest) I am trustee and chair. Other agencies are DemSoc, Public-i and the Tavistock Institute.

NHS Citizen will be a system that listens to citizens through both online and offline channels, curating these conversations and exploring evidence.

Today is the first, prototype Assembly, with 250 people brought into an open, facilitated space to talk about priorities for NHS England, with the Board present as equals and able to respond at its AGM later in the day.

NHS Citizen has three layers:

• The Discovery space where information and opinions are gathered through social media, public comment, online and offline tools. This gives a picture of the “state of the conversation” on health, allowing issues of public concern to bubble up.

• The Gather space which will give people opportunities to work together around particular issues, either those that NHS bodies want public opinion on, or those that arise from issues in the Discovery space. These might be issues concerning experiences of patients, users or carers, or those that highlight more general challenges (e.g. how services are commissioned). In this space, a participant “raises a flag,” seeking others who are interested in taking action on that issue.

• The Assembly Meeting will happen twice a year to consider the most important issues in an open and deliberative format, and hold the Board to account. The Assembly Meeting will be able to commission Citizen Panels to consider particularly challenging and controversial issues as part of its way of working.

Democracy is a tool that has far wider reach and potential than we give it credit – in many ways this could be a great age of democracy. It needs to work through across both society and the economy, and at different levels of scale.

The question of how mass membership or public organisations can listen and respond in ways that are open and authentic is a issue on which that the co-operative sector has an enormous amount to offer, but also, with new technology, new expectations, much to learn too.


One thought on “The other democratic event today

  1. Reference:

    > *Democracy is a tool that has far wider reach and potential than we give > it credit – in many ways this could be a great age of democracy. It needs > to work through across both society and the economy, and at different > levels of scale*.

    I believe that many people all over the world are beginning to aspire to this possibility of genuine human democracy, for resetting human civilisation on a resilient foundation of social cohesion and ecological sustainability.

    The so called financial crisis is also revealing the fact, that without genuine economic democracy, political democracy is a farce. The lack of economic democracy is what undermines the realisation and sustainability of the true potential of the cooperative movement.

    It is the nature and functioning of the monetary system which determines the conditions under which human capital is activated and directed, as well as the distribution of the fruit of such human capital that has been invested in work. If the credit allocation function of the monetary system is based on the enslavement of human ability, then there cannot be any economic democracy, and consequently neither can there be any genuine political democracy. Ultimately those who have illegitimately privatised the credit commons, will impose a globalised system of economic feudalism.

    As Bishop Berkeley postulated in the 18th century: “*Whether power to command the industry of others be not real wealth? And whether money be not in truth Tickets or Tokens, for recording and conveying such power? And whether it be of consequence what **material the tokens are made of? … Whether all circulation be not alike circulation of credit, whatsoever medium—metal or paper—is employed: and whether gold be any more than credit for so much power?*”

    Today 98% of monetised credit that provides economic liquidity, is circulated through the medium of electronic pulses, within a global network of Internet connected computers, which recording and conveying technology did not exist at the time of Bishop Berkeley.

    The digitalisation of the payment system has amplified the power and nefarious effects of a monetary system based on a metallic paradigm of financial capital as debt bondage. At the same time, it exposes the redundancy of this old feudalistic paradigm, and reveals a new paradigm: that the ultimate capital which underwrites monetised credit is the human capital that belongs to each individual.

    In this new paradigm, capital and money are rooted in the sentient domain of human potential, and not in the insensible domain of inanimate matter. Capital is the innate ability that has been developed within each one of us; money is the trust, or credit, that we have in each other, to deliver the fruit of our abilities in service of our common good.

    Each one of us is the owner and investor of our human capital through our work. Money is the credit or trust granted by our human community, which enables us to actualise our human capital. . Money is unconditionally transferable credit, and hence a social liquidity that is rooted in relationship, which is based on rights and obligations, that account for, and enable us to reciprocally exchange, the specialised fruits of our work within the social ecosystem that we call an economy.

    A shift to this renewed paradigm will mean the transformation of banking and finance, so that they will restore the feeling of fraternal interdependence, and the sense of ecological stewardship, which are intrinsic to the reality of sustainable human development.

    The present system for activating and directing our human potential is a nefarious distortion of something that is inherently good. We can restore its original goodness by changing our paradigm, and thereby grant to ourselves and to our children, the gift of a truly meaningful life.

    As Max Planck, the German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.

    For more information visit:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s