March 28, 2014 by Adam Smith
Brief background: we held two pilot sittings last year to test and improve our format, then cancelled our third sitting due to bungled organisation. Now I’m organising the whole project better and splitting tasks up among more volunteer clerks.
I’ve had around 12 offers from people who’ve said they’d like to help out. I recently met our existing clerks and officers, who are still keen, and we worked out how to organise each sitting better.
The new principle is to work concurrently on planning a series of sittings on different topics, rather than one by one. This gives us a longer lead time to find researchers to come along (previously a problem) and generate a buzz online around each approaching sitting.
The three topics we’re working on covering right now are drugs policy, assisted dying and nuclear power. These are all contentious topics with conflicting evidence from the natural and social sciences, plus flip-flopping public policy decisions. Moreover, I think many people, including myself, don’t think there’s a clear line to be taken on any of them. The Rational Parliament likes a messy topic.
The planning work involves finding relevant researchers in these fields, convincing them to participate in our debate, finding the latest policy positions on the issues, writing blogs and comment pieces, finding the online communities, and then actually plotting in some dates for debates and starting to flog the tickets (still just a fiver!).
Now I’m splitting up these jobs per topic and farming them out to the clerks. If you’ve already been in touch to offer your help, I’ll contact you about this soon.
Thanks again for all your continued support, folks. Phase two of the Rational Parliament starts here.