Tag Archives: mysociety

Online democracy tools that inform the general election debate

Last week I drew your attention to YourNextMP, a crowdsourced website run by Democracy Club. But they are not the only non-profit organisation providing useful open data information to support democracy, either by data scraping government sites or through crowdsourcing.

MySociety started it all many years ago, with the now redundant FaxYourMP. This was eventually replaced by WriteToThem, where visitors could find out the names of their elected representatives (including councillors) and send them a message without having to search other sites for their contact details.  FixMyStreet is another simple but powerful site which allows people to report problems to their local council.

theyworkforyouBut the best known MySociety project is TheyWorkForYou, which is still the yardstick by which many of us judge civic websites. It takes data from Hansard and other parliamentary/ assembly resources and repackages it to make it immediately accessible to any of us.  Enter your postcode to discover your MP’s voting record, recent speeches, attendances on committees, register of interests. It also covers members of the House of Lords, and the Queen.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

House of Commons reform: contact your MP about tomorrow’s vote

MPs will vote tomorrow on an amendment to the Government’s resolutions on the reform of Parliament, put forward by Evan Harris MP on behalf of the Wright Committee. (Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons.)

The Wright Committee was set up as a response to the expenses scandal in 2009 to make recommendations on how Parliament could be reformed to carry out its functions better.

The reforms being put to a vote tomorrow will include the amendment approving the establishment of a House Business Committee. This committee would decide the scheduling of all business before the House, including scrutiny of legislation, and to put an agenda before the House for decision. This would be vast improvement on the current state of affairs:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

MPs’ expenses: have you sent in your views yet?

As Helen has covered on The Voice, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is running a public consultation on MPs’ expenses. Comments on its proposals can be submitted until 11 February 2010.

A couple of people mentioned in comments to that post that the proposals are rather better than the media coverage made them fear, and reading through the IPSA’s proposals I’ve had the same reaction.

Even so, it is well worth responding to the consultation because the IPSA will very likely be receiving significant lobbying from some MPs to water down various proposals. Unless other MPs and the public lobby back, there is a risk of a lopsided impression being changed and important reforms being lost.

So here’s my response, which picks up on a couple of weak areas but otherwise backs the proposals:

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

“Taxpayers don’t want Web 2.0!”

So runs the rather foolish quote from the Taxpayers’ Alliance in a story from the Daily Express expressing outrage at a job ad for a Director of Digital Engagement.

The Government should have better things to spend money on than a pointless deputy Twittercrat. The public sector as a whole should be tightening its belt during times of economic hardship, and this job would be a scandalous waste even during good economic times.

Taxpayers don’t want more Web2.0. They want an end to wasteful spending.

Neither the TPA nor the Conservative Party can see the point, instead frothing at the mouth …

Posted in Online politics and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 7 Comments

Top RSS tips for local campaigners

The attentive amongst you will have spotted amongst the 30 tips from m’colleague Mark Park for aspirant politicians:

Subscribe to at least 20 sites using an RSS reader, 10 of which are not party political. Using an RSS (feed) reader is a huge time-saver and an effective way of keeping up with news and information. But there’s no point just being an expert on party politics if you want to be an elected official.

RSS readers are many and various – my favoured one is Google Reader – and having just returned from engaging in another of Mark’s tips, a week …

Posted in Local government and Online politics | Also tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

Why I’ve lobbied my MP over the choice of Speaker

In the past it’s never really occurred to me to lobby my MP about who they were going to support in a contest for Speaker of the House of Commons. I’ve seen those contests as largely internal affairs, with MPs knowing the candidates and their likely ability to do their job far better than me, and with the choice having only a limited impact on life outside the Commons itself.

This time, though, matters are clearly different. The MySociety team has put together an excellent three-point manifesto, which Speaker candidates are being asked to back:

1. Voters have the right to know

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

New collection of leaflets

A strategically hashtagged tweet brings an interesting new site to the attention of The Voice. It is being built by people with some connection to MySociety, who are responsible for the excellent non-partisan sites intended to improve how politics works, such as WriteToThem, PublicWhip and FixMyStreet.

The new site is intended as a repository of the leaflets that are routinely delivered by local political activists day in, day out up and down the country.  Whilst similar sites have tried to do this before – particularly for the bigger by-elections – no-one has really got a site together that works quite …

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Modern Liberty: my part in the war on hypocrisy

It has been a little over a week now since the government backed down on exempting MPs expenses from the Freedom of Information Act, following a sparkling example of good online campaigning from MySociety and friends.

James Graham, in the first instalment of the Carnival of Modern Liberty (can carnivals have instalments? Or is it a more fluid thing than that? Perhaps “floats”?), had something to celebrate. Week 2 of the Carnival, and he may be a little more pressed for good news, whereas bad news is around for liberals in abundance, as the

Posted in News | 15 Comments

MPs expenses – yes we can!

Let the halls of the internet ring with celebration! Following Brown’s climbdown over Thursday’s vote on MPs expenses a few hours ago (looks like nobody told poor old Margaret Beckett), it’s starting to dawn on the citizens of cyberspace that, hey, we actually DID something! Enough contacts were made, enough comments, twitters, links, emails, posts and messages, to prompt those letters, pinging off apparently to over 90% of MPs (yes, I am watching you, Mr Grayling).

Tom at MySociety (where Bad Science is among the commenting celebrants) is deservedly delirious with joy:

Continue reading »

Posted in News | 4 Comments

#MPexpenses – act now!

Today is the last day you can contact your MP to urge them to vote against emergency legislation preventing the publication of parliamentarian’s expenses.

News of the planned exemption hit the headlines only last Friday giving this campaign scant time to get started. Many MPs are unaware a vote a scheduled, since it has been timetabled to a slot when many may already have left for their constituencies.

It’s times like these when fast communication tools like Twitter and Facebook come into their own.

A hashtag – #MPexpenses – soon evolved. I watched in awe over the weekend as a …

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged | 2 Comments

votewise.co.uk: it’s genuine and worth taking part in

The Votewise website is a non-partisan service which advertises council by-elections, giving candidates a chance to set out their case and the public a chance to ask questions of all their candidates.

For each council by-election they contact all candidates asking them to supply copy for the site. Usage of the site varies a lot from by-election to by-election, but there are a growing number of Liberal Democrat by-election candidates who have had good exchanges with members of the public through the site and even found new supporters who have ended up as members or helpers.

It’s worth emphasising that it’s …

Posted in News and Online politics | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Nick Clegg supports the “Free Our bills” campaign

Free Our Bills is campaigning to get information about legislation passing through Parliament available in a sensible electronic format, so that it can more easily be made use of and publicised on the internet.

Nick Clegg has now given the campaign his full support:

Parliament belongs to the people. It’s time to open it up so people can find out what’s going on. mySociety has done a brilliant job in recent years in doing that – and it’s time to take this project to the next level and get information about the laws Parliament passes into the public domain.

It takes

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Dragging Parliament into the C.21st – how you can help…

mySociety, the folk behind TheyWorkForYou.com, today launched its first ever campaign – to make Parliament publish bills better – in the nicest, politest possible way:

Free our Bills! The Nice Polite Campaign to Gently Encourage Parliament to Publish Bills in a 21st Century Way, Please. Now.

You can find the website here – www.theyworkforyou.com/freeourbills – and Lib Dem Voice encourages readers to follow the link and add your signature. Here’s a snippet to give you a taster:

It’s time for Parliament to improve its act and start publishing these vital documents properly in the first place. Quite apart from the fact

Posted in Online politics | 1 Comment
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 26th Apr - 6:04pm
    What people want when they say PR is a party list system. This is the age old complaint "we got x amount of votes but...
  • User AvatarMr Wallace 26th Apr - 5:58pm
    @Caron "Mr Wallace, that is an absolute load of nonsense. Ten thousand pound tax threshold, extra money to disadvantaged kids in school, green investment bank,...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 26th Apr - 5:56pm
    @ Denis Mollison “On electoral reform, please can we stop re-inventing the wheel? Our party and its predecessors have been thinking about fair votes for...
  • User AvatarStimpson 26th Apr - 5:37pm
    They should forget doing any deals with socialists, and concentrate on moderating the Tories, by ensuring we are kept in the EU, we do not...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 26th Apr - 5:26pm
    Katie Barron, you raise a good point on the benefits in accountability of only having one MP per constituency. Us STV sceptics are few and...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 26th Apr - 5:22pm
    Hi Denis. I see your plan. 118 constituencies and 513 MPs. My problem is I don't see how more proportionality can be achieved with fewer...