Innovation in Politics Awards: Week Two Reflections

In week two of Innovation in Politics Awards 2020, we check in with Calderdale Council’s Mike Lodge. We wanted to find out how being part of the judging panel is going and hear some of the issues he’s been wrangling with.

“I was given the option as a juror to take a look at each project, part evaluate and return to them later to finish. So I have looked at each of the 17 projects, given them a score and I will return to them later.

My thoughts from this week:

  • I predicted this might be a chore – it wasn’t, it was very enjoyable. Every award entry was written by someone (or people) that were clearly proud of their project and believed they had added to the place where they live and work by their project – that is uplifting.
  • I have been asked to score each project out of ten on innovation, participation and sustainability. Sustainability was the hardest for people to complete – and maybe it’s too high a bar to set. Perhaps it’s ok for a project to benefit some people for a short time and then we move on somewhere else. That will improve the lives of the people involved (which will have some sustainability) but maybe that’s enough sometimes.
  • An entry for an award for political innovation should demonstrate involvement by politicians. Projects undertaken by local or national government  where the only involvement by politicians may have been approval rather than involvement are not quite the same thing. Not all the projects did demonstrate. One did – it showed exactly how the president of the republic had got involved themselves – that ticked the boxes for me.
  • I tried to judge the quality of the innovation, not the quality of the application. Particularly as some had clearly lost some nuance in translation into English. I had the great advantage of writing my application in English and having it read in English – others had it much harder. But if you have up to 100 words and only use 20, you’re not giving me a chance to see what you are doing. 

The 17 projects I’m looking at cover a wide range of topics. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic features. Several have an arts and cultural focus and one or two business and the economy. Addressing inequalities feature. But none of them really touch on the heavy lifting of working with people with some of the hardest lives – people who are homeless, people with serious mental illness, and other people who are struggling with life’s challenges. Let’s hope they feature more in the work of other jurors!”

Guest blog by Mike Lodge, Calderdale Council.