Adaptive Path have two interesting essays online with "Business Case Modeling for Design" and with "So You Want to Be an Interaction Designer 2006"
Danny pointed out this article about a major problem with political parties in Ireland - the lack of new members.
"Political parties across Europe are losing active members, especially in urban areas where the highest number of seats to be filled exist. The reasons for this vary from place to place, but the more common ones are disillusionment with politics, busier lifestyles and the growth of single-issue campaigning organisations." with the final advice being given as "For most of those candidates standing for a party and hoping for success at next year’s election, the core party membership will add very little to their efforts. Instead, any candidate with serious ambitions will motivate and organise their own personal supporters who, at best, will have a loose affiliation to the party. These `semi-detached' party members are probably the best hope for the larger parties in keeping the remnants of their local campaigning activities alive. The nights of the thronged meeting in the back room of the pub are over.".
I tried to puzzle out a definite rejection of the arguments laid out in the article and with enough experience in both youth, local and national aspects of a political organisation I'm afraid all I can say is that I agree with the advice given which reflects a rather sad state of affairs. For Limerick I particular have to agree with one comment made in the article by a former FG Senator who said "most meetings still involve a gathering of middle-aged to elderly moaners in a private room in a local pub or hotel" and wonder if they were talking about Limerick. I've talked before with several counterparts and I think it is probably time to adopt the US style campaign oriented organisation in Ireland for political parties as the core party memberships in main stream politics are becoming liabilities in elections due to the extent to which they are now more dead weight than active canvassers. In America, its gone even beyond the campaign organisation to focus on leveraging modern communication broadcast channels such as the Internet and your mobile to reach out to extend your own organisation with people of similar viewpoints and to attract voters who are concerned by those issues (see this article). This change in Irish politics won't happen today and won't even happen by the next Local Elections but things could be rather interesting for General Election after the next one where these channels will be even more ubiquitous in society and where the core membership of many parties may simply be dead. Even Fianna Fail have realised its troubles with a previous internal report stating that their estimated actual membership was in the region of 15,000 to 20,000. The major factor which none of the reports with the exception of Gallagher's and Marsh's fine work "Days of Blue Loyalty" (which is also available for purchase unlike the myriad of other non available but oft leaked internal reports) cover is the growing age of these so-called core party members. This is definitely one area which all parties are going to focusing on both in the run up to the current election and beyond.