Cracking the WHIP

There’s a new kid on the block, and it’s called WHIP (website, Twitter, facebook). First watch this video:

WHIP appears to be occupying a similar space to the long established They Work For You, in that it lets you keep track of your MP’s work in Parliament, but there are some crucial differences.

Firstly, WHIP provides services for MPs as well as for constituents. They aim to provide …

Three defined services for the public:

  1. Understand the Bills going through Westminster.
  2. Easily tell your MP how to vote on those Bills.
  3. See how your MP voted and if they are listening.

Three defined services for MPs:

  1. Opinion polls directly from their constituency.
  2. A platform to voice opinions and defend voting record.
  3. A platform to keep their electorate up to date with events in Parliament.

Secondly, WHIP is run by a young team headed by 24 year old Jonny Bottomley. Their target audience is largely 18-24 year olds, although I can see that it will have an appeal beyond their core audience.

It is early days yet, and the project is still in Beta mode, but it is worth signing up and exploring what it can do for you. If you provide your postcode it will inform your MP of your views on a bill that is going through Parliament.

Some months ago I wrote about the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy. That had five key targets:

  1. By 2020, the House of Commons should ensure that everyone can understand what it does.
  2. By 2020, Parliament should be fully interactive and digital.
  3. The 2015 newly elected House of Commons should create immediately a new forum for public participation in the debating function of the House of Commons.
  4. By 2020, secure online voting should be an option for all voters.
  5. By 2016, all published information and broadcast footage produced by Parliament should be freely available online in formats suitable for re-use. Hansard should be available as open data by the end of 2015.

Some progress has been made towards some of those fine aims. The Parliamentary Digital Service was launched in April and they are currently recruiting a Digital Development Director. Also Parliament’s first Education Centre was opened last week.

In the meantime it seems to me that WHIP is going a long way towards meeting the first target.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Rather ironically, we’re down as “Liberal Democratics”!

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Jul '15 - 8:27am

    The TUC General Secretary told BBC TV Daily Politics that BusinessSecretary Vince Cable had been working with the TUC to provide secure online voting in trade union ballots, She regretted that the work had stopped after the general election. The current government is legislating on trade union ballots. They want to change several criteria to make strike ballot majorities less likely.

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