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
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