The value of Democracy Live

The BBC Democracy Live site is a recent creation and its significance has yet to be fully appreciated.  It strikes me as an invaluable tool for members of the public to see what is happening in the Commons, Lords, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assemby and European Parliament, as well as in Westminster Hall and select committees.

The value in terms of the relationship between Parliament and citizen is that it is unmediated: electors can see what is happening direct without editorial comment and can watch for as long as they wish.   As mainstream media coverage of Parliament declines, remains low, or is not of an outstanding quality, the more such direct access becomes a central tool of parliamentary democracy. 

There is also value added in that the site utilises a ‘speech-to-text’ system.  It adds words spoken in a video, enabling viewers to provide a word and the site links to the point in the video where the word is used.   People may not be that interested in the processes of Parliament, but they are normally interested in particular topics. 

Rather like the BBC Parliament Channel, the site provides notable value for money, operating on relatively limited resources.  Last year, the Parliament Channel achieved an average viewing figure of 1.9 million viewers a month, which I think is impressive. 

The more people get to know about both the Parliament Channel and Democracy Live, the better it will be for Parliament.  Electors can see it, warts and all.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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8 Responses to The value of Democracy Live

  1. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,

    It is notable that Big Woods isoutside the Westminster Village. In that vein, the qualty of the Speaker’s lecture series on the DL site seems very good. I listened to (and partly watched) the Soames speech on his grandfather and the transmission was flawless. This in turn made it much easier to enjoy the very professional content of the lecture and its tones drawn from familial heritage and unmentioned familial intimations…

    I look forward to hearing all of Your Lordship’s distinguished competitors and colleagues over time. The series seems well worthy of the centenary it celebrated.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Frank W. Summers III: One of the values of Democracy Live is that it is available beyond these shores. I agree about the quality of the lectures: I have attended every one so far, and hope to attend those still to be delivered. I think it has proved an excellent series.

      • Frank W. Summers III says:

        Lord Norton,
        I find that each of the lectures was very good. Although I suppose Sir Peter Tapsell is not obliged to bring you salt and bread each year as MP for Louth I know you have written that you know him. I enjoyed his speech last but quite a bit and got the feeling that he knew a really vast amount more than would fit in his lecture. Despite the chasms of time and space I recognized the marks of graduate work in history in his lecture. I think yours may well have been the best thus far.

        My praise must be revised for the site. The Speaker’s lectures have transmitted beautifully but some other streams have not done so well….

  2. ladytizzy says:

    However tempting it may be to link this post with Summer Loop I’ll limit myself to pointing out that, as fabulous as ‘speech-to-text’ can be, this version does have drawbacks, easily seen if one types “warts and all” in to the search facility. It may be the star game of the summer.

    But, yes, great facilities provided by the BBC. Shame about the broadband speed around here (mutters something about joined-up gvt…)

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: I am sure the facility can be improved, but I think it marks a major step forward and greatly to be welcomed. I am keen to ensure that its availability is widely known.

  3. tory boy says:

    Why has the Lords not been recalled, after the london riots?

  4. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    Eventually I hope to virtually join you in the audience. Although six of my family are in London today I doubt I could get any closer even if a seat were offered me, as of course it has not been. Since posting this comment I have heard Baroness Williams on Astor, Lord Kinnock on Foot, Marsden on Bevan and Lord Morgan on DLG. So It has me on course….

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