OK, I’m cheating, and actually writing this on 7th October. But I wanted to make sure that I recorded what was a really good week :) Three good things…
Labour Party Conference
I attended the Labour Party Conference and took part in two fringe events.
The first was a panel titled How should we govern in the digital age?, run by the Institute for Government and sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. This was in some ways a tie-in to James Plunkett’s new project with them, where he’s exploring social justice in the digital age. Unsurprisingly, I basically argued for greater power to the people, more democratic participation around the role of data and so on.
Later, I was at a closed roundtable run by the IPPR with Reset delving more into Labour’s policy around data and digital. Given the likely outcome of the next General Election in the UK, Labour’s policies are quite important. It’s promising that “harnessing data for the public good” is one of the four missions in their newly published Industrial Strategy. But I think it’s currently missing a vision of the future that’s uniquely Labour.
I had a bunch of fun conversations with friends and colleagues exploring what this vision might be. My view is that it should be based on Labour’s broader messaging around partnership between government, business and communities, and not neglect the strong role of communities in that equation. I found myself getting particularly exercised about the rights of providers in two-sided platforms (eg Uber drivers, AirBnB hosts, Etsy sellers, TikTok content creators), which are currently really neglected because it’s a new kind of ecosystem role. Anyway, you should read Matt’s great summary of his reflections from the conference.
Data Protection and Digital Information Bill workshop
On Thursday, we hosted a workshop with various mostly civil society organisations to discuss the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill. I’ve written up the results of those quick discussions so won’t go into them here, but just reflect that it was really invigorating to see the range of interest in different aspects of the Bill. Not everyone was interested in the things we were interested in – and that’s fine – but there were also definite areas of overlap with people coming at the same issues from different directions. We’re aiming to run more events to bring this community together.
Our first press
The second great thing that happened on Thursday was being mentioned in Campaign Corner in Matt Honeycombe-Foster’s London Influence Politico newsletter. Jonathan and Gavin had talked to him about our work, but the first we actually knew of it being published was someone getting in touch with us who wanted to talk about our work. By the end of the week we had had three really useful approaches off the back of that piece, which is honestly the most immediate and concrete impact of any press I’ve experienced.
This really felt like a week where we landed, particularly in policy circles.