What sexy questions this blog dares to pose! I've been mulling this question since an encounter with some pollsters made me see how different government and public perceptions of the purpose of consulting are.
It seems that as a government, you can consult for two purposes. The first is to find out the balance of public opinion about an issue. The second is to try and find better ways of doing things - building a better mousetrap. The very unoriginal bolt from the blue I experienced was the realisation that most people in government (bar the politicians) think that consultations are mostly about the latter, whilst most of the public think they're all about the former. Perhaps we need two different words.