Anecdote corner – Week 1: Working with Members

Written by Gareth Young on . Posted in Our blog

We all know the expression ‘you can’t make policy based on anecdote’; usually deployed when a politician somewhere inputs into a complex policy debate by referencing their cousin’s next door neighbour.


In general the expression is broadly right; making policy based on the odd anecdote is often the easiest way to look silly. However, that does not mean that all anecdotes are necessarily worthless as a means of getting a better understanding of something. After all, understanding user experience, especially in their own words, can be incredibly important.

Whilst the re-launch of this site has primarily been about providing up with a space to write and a means to see if there is a demand for local government podcasting we also wanted to take the opportunity of having our own site to try a few things to see if they might work.

Anecdote corner is one of those things we are going to try.

The idea of anecdote corner is simple. Every so often we will post a topic on our site which we think is interesting and ask our readers to give us examples of their experience of it. Anecdotes themselves don’t prove anything but we hope collecting together the wider experience of multiple officers will provide some colour to the world of local government and help shed some light on it.

To take part is simple; either note your anecdote as a comment to this blog post or visit the forum and post your comment there. If this works and we get enough comments we’ll try and feature them in a blog post and see if we can learn something from the humble anecdote.

This week we thought we’d start with an easy one:

Working with members

If you have a story; positive, negative, humorous, insightful or just something you want to share please do comment. If you need to post it anonymously then a bland user name would achieve that or you can simply drop us an e-mail and we’ll do the rest.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted: 5 years 6 months ago by Tom #31
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Such discretion as I still retain means I'll keep to myself the many stories I could tell of Members I've worked with, but I still cringe at this, by the Deputy Leader of a large local authority in the North of England who attended an event run by the LGIU not very long ago. I was also there, and heard this first-hand:

"I cannot wait for all this fuss about the internet and email to blow over, so that we can go back to doing things properly"

Like others present, I sat speechless, and pretended I'd not heard. No one commented. "So," he went on, "I can tell you all agree, because no one's arguing with me."

People vote for this sort of thing?
Posted: 5 years 6 months ago by TheStatsGibbon #32
TheStatsGibbon's Avatar
Yes, I can see the internet being the cause of many of these... We had "I don't believe in the internet" from a peer reviewer, and 'My neighbour doesn't have it, claiming over 80% do is clearly nonsense" from one of our own within the space of one meeting a year or so ago.

Favourite is still from a job some considerable time ago as full-time form-filler-in for elections, I managed to misread of 'cook' as 'cock' on a form. This led to a messed up statement of persons' nominated.

Leader of the party in question charged into the office bellowing 'Are you calling my candidate "Cock", JuniorElectionsGibbon... I waited until I met him before doing that".

Also, got to disagree with that t-shirt thingie - multiple anecdotes are absolutely data. If they weren't qualitative research would be a touch empty.
Posted: 5 years 6 months ago by TheJoff #38
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Mostly my contact swith elected members have confimed that they are actually incredible public servants with a tremendous service ethos. But you probably don't want to hear about that so a "funny" instead...

My favourite moment some years ago was when a Leader declaimed with great force

"I want to know who is driving the blame culture around here and I want them sacked!"

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