Urgent Meeting | Open Government | What was said?

Hi all

For your information, below are unattributed remarks from Wednesday’s urgent meeting to discuss how the Open Government Network should respond to an unprecedented series of political decisions which seem to contradict the principles of open government, and challenge participation in the development of a National Action Plan.

If you were unable to make the meeting but have thoughts, please add your comment in the chat below. It would be great to hear from you.

Best wishes

The UK Open Government Steering Committee

  • Concerns over continued centralisation and Presidential-style briefing room.

  • Must judge the government on actions not words.

  • Uncomfortable about working on the NAP with the Police Bill, pulling back on FOI, Voter ID, PCC electoral systems amongst other issues.

  • Agree about the Police Bill. Raab comments on democracy overseas are hypocritical. OGP designed for enduring reform beyond political cycles. Infuriated but not ready to back out.

  • Response letter a foot in the door, not sure if it’s a door I want to walk through. Incredibly uneasy about the Police Bill. Almost the final straw… Concerned about legitimacy of OGP process.

  • Not convinced the government believes in international commitments. Minister agreeing to a meeting is no cause for celebration. Need to decide red lines. But consider what us walking away would actually do.

  • Need to be strategic. The impact of whatever we do. Our credibility and integrity. Deliberately don’t disengage. Hold them to account. Make it difficult for them.

  • Sophisticated approach. Engage in process but also be critical. Carrot and stick.

  • Remain actively engaged in the process.

  • Any conversation about withdrawing from the NAP process (should it be required) must be thought through strategically, related to outcomes, and timed for maximum impact. Civil society must be organised. Consider the time between now and the MSF to develop Terms of Engagement or a Civil Society Manifesto: expectations laid out.

  • It’s about timing. Knowing our red lines and pulling out at the right time if they are crossed.

  • We do have a clear agenda for reform: the Pre-MSF meeting saw the development of some good themes. We have something to build on. The International context is important too: G7, COP26, D10.

  • Government has a more powerful voice than we do. Red lines must ensure there are no retrograde steps.

  • Capacity issue: reach out to JSF, Luminate or seek further volunteers.

  • If we do pull out, make the point to have a parallel process.

  • Use this moment as a leverage for some fundraising. JRF. Democracy Fund.

  • Need to develop starting points for red lines.

  • Will discuss further at the UK OGN Committee Meeting next week.

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