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Pledge Hammer: Web 2.0 Tool Tracks U.K. Goverment Promises


Britain's government is a rare thing—a product of a hung parliament, with no clear electoral winner—and true to its radical format, it's been making hundreds of promises to its citizens. Now a U.K. newspaper has launched a digital tool to see how honest the government is being.

David Cameron's government has made over 430 pledges to change, improve or make-over existing laws, rulings and practices in the nation, over a period of just 100 days. The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper is on the case, and is pledging to not let these pledges go "the way of so many campaign promises: broken," and it's launched an online tool that acts as a "pledge tracker," letting Britons work out which government promises have come good, been thwarted or just forgotten.

The site lets you sort pledges by category (transport, civil liberty and the like) and by other ranking systems including "difficulty" of achieving the particular promises. It's definitely designed to be a potent tool, with pledges that get a "not kept" rating flashing up in urgent red as a reminder of a government that's either failed to deliver, or lied in the first place. But it's also deliberately playful, to keep the public entertained and to allow for the gray areas in every political decision.

The entire pledge tracker is also kind of a government 2.0 effort, but from the opposite end of things: In the digital era, where information is both freely available and free to be analyzed, governments are open to a form of semi-scientific public scrutiny in ways that have never been possible before. Is it something the U.K. government itself should pay attention to? You may be surprised—the coalition government seems extremely conscious of its public image, and it's entirely plausible that some M.P.'s (both in government and opposition) will use the tool as a way of keeping score.

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