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Chris Lightfoot

Well, I'd have said that the term for one of those is "opinion poll", and "consultation" is a reasonable term for the other. But it's probably too late to change the language now.

Oddly enough, it's quite rare to see your point above made in relation to the results of consultations, even when it would be desirable for the government to do so. So, for instance, in the infamous ID cards consultation, the Home Office made a big point of ignoring lots of responses, claiming -- dishonestly -- that they were sent in by "an organised campaign". But since many of those responses made the same points, they should have phrased their dismissal by counting the number of separate issues raised. (Of course, the other thing to note is that the consultation there did sod all good, since the substantive problems with the scheme are still being ignored. But that's life.)


Would there not be another reason? Isn't to be seen to have a consultation one of the reasons to have a consultation?

This may sound cynical but at a time when anti-elitist rhetoric is pervasive within central government, having a consultation can be seen as a standard procedure for avoiding future accusations of elitism.

Jonathan Briggs

I've just run a session for my students in Kosova on surveying and consultation pointing out the difference between open and closed questioning. I think the sexier question for your blog is therefore "How do we run consultations?" rather than "why?".

So much depends on how we involve people. Offering them a set of options is so different from asking them what they want. Helping them understand tradeoffs is also vital.

Chris Shipton

Hello Tom,

nice blog. Plz look at mine; www.shiptonblog.com.. anyway consultations? Are they not a stupid waste of taxpayers money as whatever bit of government that's doing it prepares to do whatever it was going to do anyway. You run a consultation as a bit of window dressing to keep the idiots in zombieland happy while thinking you are justifying you position as county councillor/mp/NHS fat cat/PM or whatever.


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