Headlines: September 1st, 2010

People from under-represented groups now have a new web tool designed to bring them closer to politicians whose decisions govern their lives. The online public opinion bank – ‘oPob’ – has been created by the Citizen Society, a non-profit group that works towards greater representation for all.

The new system comes on the back of the boom in social media. It will allow members of the public to register online, without charge, to post messages about political and social issues in much the same way as the information network site Twitter works. Politicians, civil servants and policy makers will be able to log in to search and collate posts so they can build a picture of what people are saying.

The idea of the web-based tool, which took more than a year to develop, is to reach working class families across the country, and those people who have become disengaged from the democratic process. Citizen Society said, though, that it wanted anyone wishing to express their thoughts and opinions to those that govern to use the new service.

The Society’s founder director, Davina Kirwan, said: “What the general public don’t know is that academic scholars who study political science, sociology, democracy and culture theory say that public opinion is an illusion. They say it is created unwittingly by opinion polling and used by political actors to legitimise their actions – giving the impression of this massive unanimous vehicle of public voices – which isn’t actually accurate.”

She said it was time for the real voices of ordinary people to be heard, no matter how uninformed or basic they might be. Anyone can set up an account and post messages to politicians and decision makers by visiting www.opob.org or www.citizensociety.co.uk.