As we finished putting together the 50 word manifesto and saw the three party leaders looking up from the page I got goosebumps. The thought that we’d successfully pushed real issues, from real people, under the noses of Brown, Cameron and Clegg’s political elite is very rewarding.
The ideas are stunning in their simplicity and practical application, and most people who read them end up nodding (do give ‘em a glance). Yet…
There’s an irony to the lack of press coverage
We put out a press release detailing the ideas, the politicians’ responses and what they were saying, yet not a dickie bird was said in the press (unlike a comment on Barclaycard’s proposed new reward scheme for example).
There is a certain irony to this though, as I first had the idea for something like this way back in 2008 after watching a press conference with Gordon Brown talking about direct debits, as detailed in this blog: political reporters are you out of touch copied here for ease.
“Political reporters: are you out of touch?
I watched the government’s gas and electricity press conference on Sky news yesterday. It’s a massively important subject that’s blighting the lives of many across the UK, so the prime minister and cabinet ministers were there to answer for their strategy. As I listened to the announcement, I was met by a raft of good and bad, with many serious issues that needed addressing (for an example see my last blog, ‘Does the PM understand Direct Debits?’).
The first reporter to ask a question was the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson who asked “how quickly will these measures take effect and will there be a windfall tax?” Perfectly reasonable stuff…
Then the next two said:
“Do you regret not calling an election last year?”
“On the anniversary of 9-11 what do you think of terrorist measures?”
My point on highlighting it isn’t that their questions weren’t valid, but that they had been asked countless times that week already and the issue of energy direct debits, which is crucial to millions of homes in this country, is rarely mentioned and this was its chance.
In fact there are still holes in the policy now which are slowly being addressed. Perhaps more attention and focus then may have helped.
The idea that we should try and create a consumer manifesto came from this slight pet peeve of politicians’ perception of public interest being dictated by what the media are focused on in Westminster.
It took a while for the ideas to crystallise and it was only after the savings interest petition that we came up with the 50 words concept. But I’m really glad we got it done, and it’s one of the things on MSE I’m most proud of.
Thankfully this site is now so big (we’re looking to top 9m unique users this month) the message can get out there anyway.