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Digital democracy poll results

July 23rd, 2014 by

Last Tuesday David from 38 Degrees went to a meeting with a group of politicians, who wanted to hear about how 38 Degrees members think our democracy could work better.

66,000 38 Degrees members shaped what David spoke about by filling in a survey. Here are some of the results of that survey:

  • 78% of people who filled in the survey said they used email to communicate with their MP. But 4% said they don’t get in contact at all as they know their MP won’t listen. The survey asked people to describe the way their MP responds to them. 62% said their MP always respond respectfully, but 27% said they just toe the party line. Worryingly, 6% of people said they rarely get a response from their MP and 5% said their MP never responds.
  • 66% said they’d had a good experience communicating with their MP online but 34% said they had not. The examples people gave of these good experiences were:

Annie from Edinburgh: “My MP responds thoughtfully and personally, even if we disagree about an issue.”

Chris from Clywd: “She always responds promptly, in full, and has on several occasions contacted relevant government ministers to follow up (having asked me first), most recently with Oxfam’s action on UK poverty/austerity.”

Another member said: “He has always responded when I have contacted him and on one occasion passed my concerns to the Home Secretary. He also keeps a blog which is useful for finding out his views and actions.”

  • Despite this, a massive 77% said they’d had at least one bad experience communicating with their MP online, although 23% hadn’t. The examples people gave of these bad experiences were:

Lewis from Suffolk: “My MP at my previous address refused to respond to emails based on 38 Degrees campaigning on the grounds that it was a “politically” motivated organisation even though I regarded my email as a one-to-one communication.”

Judith from Maidstone: “I flagged up my concerns about changes to teachers’ pay and conditions but merely received a standard letter in reply, which just restated the conservative education policies I had disagreed with! Basically the letter suggested that the opinions I held were wrong; the tone of the letter was dismissive and patronising.”

Hannah from Surrey Heath: “Complete lack of response, repeatedly. After emailing around 30 times, I’ve had 3 responses, one of which was really belittling, and all come with a ‘spin’ on the actual facts at hand, for him to save face.”

Rachel from South Ribble: “It always feels like I am being fobbed off. Also the letters are usually full of wishy washy statements. Once I emailed concerns I was having with the NHS being privatised because my father had leukaemia and I was worried about whether it would impact his blood transfusions. In the reply there was no mention of my dad or any ‘I’m sorry to hear that ‘ ‘or I wish you luck’. The letter was a standardised letter which I found was insensitive, rude and did not answer my question.”

  • In terms of how informative contacting their MP has been, 52% said that contacting their MP digitally hadn’t actually helped them understand how parliament works any better. Although 33% said it had, while 15% said they weren’t sure.
  • The survey then said that some MPs say that the reason they can’t respond to 38 Degrees members is because they get too many emails. 38 Degrees members were asked how they thought MPs could resolve this, here’s how they responded:

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Write to read: Leon’s library campaign

July 23rd, 2014 by

Photo credit: West Briton

There’s a new campaign taking off in Cornwall. Ten-year-old Leon has started a petition on Campaigns by You to stop library closures in Cornwall.

When Falmouth library cut its opening hours, Leon sprang into action to keep his favourite place – and other local libraries – open for all.

The more Cornwall residents who sign his petition, the clearer it will be to the Council that libraries are a valued local service that shouldn’t be cut. So if you agree, please sign the petition now.

Leon says:

“As an avid reader, it came as a shock to me that the opening hours of my local library were cut and were not seen as a priority for Cornwall Council – I think that these actions to cut the hours of the libraries should be halted immediately.

Libraries are the only places where you can get books for free and the books are varied and of good quality.

Please assist me in my quest to save Cornwall’s libraries. Sign this petition and help further by spreading the word.”

If you disagree with Leon’s campaign, or there’s another issue close to your heart, you can start your own campaign here.

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Seaham School petition hand in

July 22nd, 2014 by

On Thursday 17th July 5 members of the New School – New Pool (like for like) campaign  headed down to Downing Street to hand over their petition of 6,700 signatures to David Cameron. The five travelled by train from their small ex mining town of Seaham on the East Coast of County Durham down to the capital London.

Seaham School of Technology was due to get a new school under the old Building School’s for the Future programme by the last government however due to the change in government this scheme was abandoned and their plans were halted.  However funds from central government have now been released to build a new school however the new school fails to have the same facilities as the existing one.

Kay Temple, a 38degrees member, started the petition back in December 2013 and has had the support of the community behind her.  She found out about the new school not having the pool and thought it was unfair and unjust for the future children of Seaham to lose out on the only decent sized learning pool they have in the town.  She wanted to make people aware of what they were losing and found that lots of people were actually in the dark about the school and losing their swimming facility, this then prompted her to set up the petition.

The Seaham Community has been brought together by this petition and they are asking for the government to replace the school with like for like.

Local MP Grahame Morris has supported the campaign from the off and his office in London arranged for the team to hand over the petition to David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.

As well as the online petition, numerous paper copies of the petition had been handed around the community in places of work, community centres, libraries, and local businesses and the combined total of signatures supporting the cause came  to 6,700.

Like Kay, If there’s an issue close to your heart, then you can start a campaign on Campaigns by You.  Thousands of people are already running campaigns on a whole range of issues, from protecting our public services like busses and libraries, through to saving our NHS or even saving local beavers!

Click here to start your campaign today.

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How MPs Voted on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill

July 16th, 2014 by

On Tuesday 15th July 2014, MPs debated and then voted on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. Below is a table showing how MPs voted.

Vote third reading (final) was considering the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, support for the Bill as it stood, enabling it to continue on its path to becoming law. The majority of MPs voted in favour of this.
Clause 5 was an amendment requesting that DRIP takes effect regardless of European Union treaties making the UK subject to European Union Law and courts. The majority of MPs votes against this.
Clause 6 was an amendment requesting the Bill only remained in force until the end of 2014, rather than the end of 2016. The majority of MPs voted against this.
Second reading was considering the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill and agreeing a motion that the Bill be read a Second time. The majority of MPs voted in favour of this.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Land Registry: Victory!

July 16th, 2014 by

Fantastic news: the Government has scrapped its plans to sell off the Land Registry.

Over 100,000 38 Degrees members signed the petition to save the Land Registry – and together we helped push the government to back down.

Taken aback by the sheer number of people against their plans – from ordinary people, to trade unions and civil servants – government sources admitted it would have been “just too complicated” to get a law through to make this happen.

James, the 38 Degrees member who started the petition to stop the privatisation of the Land Registry on Campaigns by You says:

“The response from 38 Degrees members to the campaign has been fantastic. The Government’s response is a sign of what people can achieve when we get together.

The Government would need new legislation if they wanted to privatise the Land Registry – and that’s off the cards now until after the next election. So let’s all raise a glass to a job well done!”

It’s been an amazing few weeks for 38 Degrees members fighting for our public services. First, we stopped the privatisation of child protection services – and now we’ve put a stop to the Land Registry sell off. But most 38 Degrees members would agree that it’s no time to rest on our laurels.

And the only way we can keep making the case for public services – run for people over profit – is to remain completely independent. That’s why we’re funded by hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members who chip in and prioritise the campaigns that we run together.

Here’s a photo of the petition being handed in at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:

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Bees: Tell the new environment secretary to protect them!

July 15th, 2014 by

Could today mark the fresh start we desperately need for Britain’s beloved bees? Owen Paterson – the minister responsible for bees – has been given the boot in today’s cabinet reshuffle. He’s been replaced by Conservative MP Liz Truss.

Now Liz Truss has a choice: she could follow Owen Paterson’s lead and champion mega pesticide firms over our bees, or she could decide to protect them.

As she settles into her new role, she’ll hear from lobbyists in the big pesticide firms congratulating her. But together 38 Degrees members can make sure the voices of thousands and thousands of us drown theirs out.

Together, we’re sending her a congratulations card, signed by thousands of 38 Degrees members, to make sure she knows we want her to protect our precious bees. It’s a bit cheeky but with a hard-hitting message. And signing the card is just as easy as signing a petition. You can sign the card here.

Bees - Liz Truss Facebook image

Owen Paterson wasn’t a friend of the bees – in fact he put them in huge danger by backing bee-killing pesticides. But if Liz Truss knows that the British public want her to do everything she can to protect bees, she could plough a different furrow.

Our bees don’t have a voice, but that’s where 38 Degrees members come in. Together we have helped fight for their survival. Just a few weeks ago we helped stop a controversial application to allow bee-killer pesticides back on UK fields. And we’ve worked alongside campaigners from across Europe to get these killer pesticides banned.

If bees go – so do we. The more people who sign the card, the more impact it will have. Imagine receiving a card signed by thousands of people!

The 38 Degrees office team will print the huge card with thousands of our names inside and deliver it straight to Liz Truss’ office.

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Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill: Emergency law

July 15th, 2014 by

Today, MPs will vote through a new law forcing internet and phone companies to keep records of all your calls, emails and texts. The government says it’s to counter terrorism – but privacy campaigners say it’s a huge power grab under false pretences.

Either way, it’s made a mockery of the democratic process. Usually, a new law takes months. But today, MPs will vote this law through just two working days after it was first announced. Many MPs probably won’t have had the time to read it.

The Tory, Lib Dem and Labour leaders are all backing it – it’d take a miracle to stop MPs passing it. But we could make sure that it gets properly reviewed and debated within six months. MPs will vote on an amendment which has cross party support from MPs including Tom Watson, David Davis and Caroline Lucas which would make sure it’s reviewed in December 2014. [2] But we’ll only get a review if enough MPs vote for one.

Can you take a few minutes to email your MP now? There are hints and tips on the page. You could ask them to vote for a December review, or tell them what you think about the fact that the law has been rushed through in two days. The more constituents they hear from, the more likely MPs are to want to show they’re listening – and compromise by voting for a December review. Just click here to send an email:

The full name of the law is the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband held secret meetings last week to write it. And now the government intends to pass it through the House of Commons today and the House of Lords tomorrow. It’ll be law before the end of the week.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s pretty jaw-dropping. The government says it’s just replacing EU law which was thrown out by European courts in April, but privacy campaigners say this law has “new and unprecedented powers” to keep tabs on all of us.

We have a democratic process for a reason, and 38 Degrees members have come together over and over again to defend it. We stood together against the gagging law, we beat back the Snoopers’ Charter, and every month we make sure that MPs are hearing from thousands of us about the things that are important.

This new law is being forced through tomorrow. Your MP’s probably had little time to read it – and yet they’re supposed to speak for you in Parliament. Click here to tell your MP what you’d like them to do tomorrow:

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Digital Democracy

July 12th, 2014 by

Does your MP listen when you email them? Does it feel like they brush you off or are they great at responding? A new government commission has asked David Babbs, 38 Degrees Executive Director, to give evidence on Tuesday. They’re looking at “digital democracy”. They want to know how the internet can help politicians represent us better.

What do you think David should say? 38 Degrees members often talk about how they feel ignored by their MPs. Some MPs see email as a great way of engaging with their voters. But some refuse to reply, while others block their email addresses entirely.

So what do you think? Do you think the internet has made engaging in democracy easier? Do you think MPs need to get better at communicating with their constituents online?

If you want to have your say, fill out this quick survey about the internet and democracy?It’ll help make sure that when David speaks to the commission, he’ll be speaking for as many of us as possible. Just click here to get started.

The ‘Commission on Digital Democracy’ is made up of MPs and academics, and they’ll be making recommendations to parliament later this summer. They’ll be hearing from lots of ‘experts’. But it’s important they hear from real people too.

It can often feel like some of our MPs would rather not hear from us – even as they complain about apathy and low levels of engagement with politics! But technology has changed the way we engage with our MPs. It’s enabled us to come together to stand up for what we believe in, in ever-greater numbers.

Whatever your experience of your MP, and whatever your view on ‘digital democracy’, together we can paint the picture. This is a chance to be heard.

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Zero Hours: Meeting with Vince Cable

July 11th, 2014 by

Yesterday evening, around 75 38 Degrees members gathered in central London to quiz Business Secretary Vince Cable on his plans for tackling abuse of people on zero hours contracts. Almost 2500 people watched the meeting live streamed on the internet. You can find a summary of the evening on the 38 Degrees twitter @38_degrees.

The evening started with a pre-meeting for 38 Degrees members, to chat about the progress of the campaign – which has been running for over a year – and to talk about what sorts of questions we might ask.

At 7pm, Vince Cable arrived and gave a short talk about his thoughts on how the government are taking action on zero hours contracts. He said that banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts will make a huge improvement for many people on zero hours contracts. But he also admitted that the government’s estimations of the statistics around people working on zero hours contracts could not be totally accurate.

After his quick talk, 38 Degrees members had the opportunity to question Vince Cable for 45 minutes. There were a huge range of questions. Karen asked Vince Cable a question about his plan to ban exclusivity clauses – how would this be policed in reality? When you’re not guaranteed any hours week-to-week, you are unlikely to feel secure enough to stand up to your employer and demand your rights.

There were also many more general comments from 38 Degrees members about how banning exclusivity clauses isn’t enough, because there are lots more problems, like the lack of sick pay, holiday pay, and ability to plan for the future. When Vince Cable rebutted the scale of the problem by saying that only 3% of the population are estimated to work on zero hours contracts, Richard replied: “it might be only 3% of people on zero hours contracts,but to those people, ability to get mortgage or pay rent is 100% important.”

Vince Cable didn’t give us any promises, but he did say that he wants to continue to listen to 38 Degrees members to shape the future of zero hours contracts. So watch out for more actions!

At the end of the meeting, Vince Cable was presented with a petition calling on him to make wider changes to zero hours contracts. It was signed by over 43,000 38 Degrees members. Overall, there was a strong sense of 38 Degrees members coming together on this issue – 75 members in the room, 2500 watching online and 43,000 of us who signed the petition.

And after the meeting, there was a feeling that we need to decide our next steps together. Many members stayed for a while to brainstorm ideas. There was an agreement that we need to gather more personal stories about being on a zero hours contracts. And also that we need to keep up the pressure to make sure Vince Cable doesn’t think we’re settling for his plans.

Comment below with your suggestions for the next steps we could take together:

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Petition hand-in: BBC needs to report news not gossip

July 11th, 2014 by

A few weeks ago 38 Degrees member Emma started a petition on Campaigns by You asking the BBC to “report on and analyse the growing austerity movement and actions.” Today she handed it in to the BBC, along with a petition from 38 Degrees member Ken, which called on the BBC to “report news not gossip.” Both Ken and Emma started their petitions when the BBC didn’t report on a big march against austerity until a couple of days later.

Emma asked to hand the petition in to somebody from BBC news. When no one was available, we dropped it off to be given to the head of BBC News and Current Affairs, James Harding. Here’s Emma at the Courier Despatch Point – soon after this someone came and accepted the petition to take to James Harding!

Campaigns by You gives everyone the tools to start a petition, just like Emma did. Is there an issue you feel passionately about? Maybe your local school is being shut down, or perhaps you’re frustrated about a company damaging the environment. If you have an idea to make your community, or the world, a better place, Campaigns by You helps you make it a reality.

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