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Two days to keep MP expenses out in the open

October 31st, 2014 by

We’ve got two days to stop investigations into MPs’ expenses being hidden from the public.

The consultation on whether to go ahead with these dodgy plans closes on Sunday. This is our last chance to flood it with calls to scrap the idea.

Please can you email the consultation right now? There are some suggested paragraphs to make it really quick.

IPSA, the independent watchdog in charge of MP finances, claims its main duty is to serve the interests of the public, not protect MPs. But so far it’s suggested giving MPs a 10% pay rise. And now it wants to hide when MPs’ expenses are being investigated.

The 2009 expenses scandal destroyed the public’s trust in politicians. And it was the lack of transparency that led to it. These plans would be a huge step backwards. If we want to prevent MPs abusing expenses, this means keeping every part of expenses in the public eye.

IPSA says it wants to hear from the public. So together let’s make sure they know what we think. Just now we delivered a petition signed by over 200,000 of us straight to the hands of the decision makers:

If thousands of us email in now, when they look at the results in a few days’ time, they’ll hear one clear message: don’t make investigations into MPs’ expenses secret. Click here to email the consultation.

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Rochester and Strood: scorecarding the candidates

October 31st, 2014 by

38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood are trying to cut through the media circus in the constituency and understand what the candidates to be their MP really think about the issues that matter in the area – Maritime Medway Hospital, tax dodging, Lodge Hill.

Together, after a member meet up, a poll, and commenting on a draft document of questions, 38 Degrees members have come up with questions to put to the candidates. You can read more about the process here.

Here are the questions 38 Degrees members want the Rochester and Strood PPCs to answer:

  • What’s your name?
  • What party are you standing for?
  • NHS: What are your plans for the NHS nationally, and in Rochester and Strood?
  • NHS: Do you think the better off should pay more tax to fund the NHS?
  • NHS: Will you be doing anything to reduce waiting times at Medway Maritime Hospital?
  • NHS: How did you vote/would you vote on the changes in the Health and Social Care Act which mandated GPs buying services from public and private providers on behalf of their patients? For/Against
  • Public services: What’s your position on increasing privatisation of public services?
  • Public services: How do you plan to improve local transport, such as road quality and the cost of trains into London?
  • Public services: How did you vote/would you have voted on slowing the rise in rail fares?
  • For/Against
  • Public services: How did you vote/would you have voted on the privatisation of the Royal Mail in the Postal Services Bill?
  • For/Against
  • Tax avoidance: What will you do in relation to tax avoidance?
  • Tax avoidance: What would you do to tackle companies like Amazon and Vodafone avoiding tax?
  • Tax avoidance: How did you vote/would you have voted on measures to reduce tax avoidance in the Finance Bill 2013?
  • For/Against
  • Jobs, money and community: How do you plan to increase jobs and prosperity both nationally and in Rochester and Strood?
  • Jobs, money and community: What do you think about the Lodge Hill development?
  • Jobs, money and community: How did you vote/would you have voted on Andrew George MPs’ Affordable Homes Bill 2014?
  • For/Against
  • Education: What are you plans for Britain’s education system?
  • Education: What are your views on academy schools and free schools?
  • Education: How did you vote/would you have voted on raising the upper limit for tuition fees to £9,000 per year in the University Tuition Fee Cap vote in 2010?
  • For/Against
  • TTIP: Do you support the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?
  • TTIP: Do you support the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism within it?
  • Environment: What action will you take in relation to wildlife and nature in Rochester and Strood and the Medway area?
  • Environment: Do you think climate change is a problem? Do you believe in reducing fossil fuel reliance to tackle it?

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TTIP: Organise a meeting

October 31st, 2014 by

Can you organise a meeting about TTIP with your MP or MEP?

You don’t need to be an expert on TTIP to arrange a public meeting with them. They probably won’t be one either! But it’ll be your opportunity to say what you think about the deal, and hear what your MP or MEP has to say in return.

Here’s some step by step tips:

1) Ring the offices of your MEP, or your MP, and ask if they’ll meet you, along with some other local 38 Degrees members, to talk about TTIP face-to-face.

You can find out who your MEPs are on this website, and get their contact details. And you can find out who your MP is, and get their contact details, by clicking here

2) Once, you have a date, you might have to organise a venue – if the politician can’t provide one.

Quakers Friends Meeting Houses or local councils often provide rooms for free – but if not, get in touch with the 38 Degrees staff team and we’ll try to help.

3) Add the event to the 38 Degrees website HERE. This is simple and should only take a minute. Through this page, people are able to RSVP, and the staff team can spread the word about the meeting. You’ll need the date, time and location.

You can also set a maximum number of attendees on the page, and monitor how many are coming along.

4) Have fun piling on the pressure and make sure to let the office team know how you get on so we can spread the word!

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Ebola: 38 Degrees members contribute to the DEC appeal

October 30th, 2014 by

Ebola: a medical emergency, and now a humanitarian catastrophe. Thousands and thousands of children and adults have died so far, and that number is doubling every three to four weeks.

The explosive spread of the disease isn’t just killing people, it’s devastating whole countries. Clinics are too full to take new patients. Villages are in quarantine. Businesses are closing. There are bodies in the street. Town by city by country: Ebola is storming through West Africa.

At times like this, when it’s so easy to feel so helpless, 38 Degrees members are coming together to chip into the international relief effort. Donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee are going on vital equipment like cleaning kits to stop the spread of the disease, and protective clothing for doctors and nurses.

Img attribution: European Commission DG ECHO, via Flickr Creative Commons

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has never launched an appeal in response to a disease before. But this is different – Ebola is so devastating, so fatal, that it’s not just a medical emergency any more: it’s turning West Africa upside down.

DEC brings together 13 of the UK’s leading charities to co-ordinate huge international relief efforts. And yesterday, they launched an appeal to fight Ebola.

Here’s an idea of how 38 Degrees members’ donations will be spent:

  • £25 can provide cleaning kits including bleach, soap and a bucket for three families at risk from Ebola.
  • £50 can provide basic protective clothing such as gloves, masks, boots and gowns for three volunteers supporting people under quarantine.
  • £100 can provide training to a community on how to keep themselves safe and help stop the spread of Ebola.
  • “I’m overwhelmed by the bravery of people here. They desperately want to fight this disease and they are doing what they can.” That’s from Holly Taylor, who’s in Sierra Leone with Oxfam. But the disease is spreading – faster every day.

    Supporting this appeal isn’t much like the rest of the campaigns 38 Degrees members work on together. But when we’ve donated to DEC appeals before, we’ve really helped. Last year, 38 Degrees members came together after Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Phillippines to donate over £500,000 to the DEC.

    Now, 38 Degrees members are helping again nby giving what we can afford, straight to the people who need it.

    If you’d like to make a secure donation directly to the DEC, click here.

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Your decision: 25th October

October 30th, 2014 by

Every week a group of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for last week.

Protecting the NHS by stopping the government’s dangerous plans like privatisation and closing A&E departments has come top this week followed closely by cracking down on tax dodging.

The next biggest issues were: campaigning against welfare cuts and campaigning for education policies that allow every child to reach their full potential.

You can see how 38 Degrees members voted on other issues on the graph below. The blue on the graph shows how many people answered ‘a lot’ in support of the campaigns listed, the orange represents people answering ‘a little’, and the grey is ‘not at all’.

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Rochester & Strood: Help advertise the people-powered question time

October 28th, 2014 by

Fed up of politicians answering questions they’ve picked themselves?

You’re not the only one. Hundreds of 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood voted to hold a public meeting where we could grill the MP candidates with our questions. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Can you make it?

What: People-powered Question Time
When: Tuesday 18 November, 7pm
Where: Rochester Corn Exchange, Northgate, ME1 1LS

Here’s a link to the event on Facebook where you can RSVP and share it with your friends and family. Let’s pack the room!

Can you help get even more people along by printing out the poster below and putting it up in your window? It’ll also show politicians door-knocking that you expect them to give you straight answers. You could even print out a few copies and put one in the local shop or library.


Here’s what it looks like:

Together, we can get past the media circus, and ask questions on the issues that we care about. Our people-powered question time will force candidates to address our concerns face-to-face.

Even if you don’t want to ask a question, all of the audience members will have voting cards to show how they feel about the MPs’ answers. This way you’ll be able to influence what your next MP promises to do about Medway Maritime Hospital, the Lodge Hill development, tax dodging and education.

The more people who attend, the clearer it’ll be to the candidates trying to be your MP that they can’t ignore people’s concerns.

So can come along? Everyone is welcome to come along to the question time – and it’s free. Click here to RSVP on Facebook and help us pack the room.

This event is a great way to pushing the issues we care about to the top of the agenda. But 38 Degrees members aren’t stopping there. Together we’ve written questions we can use to rank the candidates on issues like the NHS, jobs and the environment. And on Saturday, 38 Degrees members from across north Kent are going to help people register to vote.

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Recall: how MPs voted

October 28th, 2014 by

MPs who voted for real recall: 

Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Anderson, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Baker, Steve

Banks, Gordon

Barclay, Stephen

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Bebb, Guto

Begg, Dame Anne

Benyon, Richard

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Boles, Nick

Read the rest of this entry »

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Recall: next steps

October 28th, 2014 by

Yesterday, MPs voted on whether to give voters the power to sack misbehaving MPs. The majority voted no, choosing to stick with the government’s recall law that takes this power out of our hands.

Together we changed the debate and we pushed MPs to go further than before. We even persuaded 166 MPs to back the new law. But in the end, it wasn’t enough this time.

To find out how your MP voted click here.

This won’t be the last opportunity MPs have to vote on this. It’d technically be possible to get the changes we want. But, to be honest, it’s pretty unlikely. Not enough MPs seem to be convinced that voters should decide when an MP gets sacked.

From watching the debate yesterday it did seem clear that the government planned to strengthen the plans they currently have. But the changes are unlikely to include giving voters the power to sack MPs for the reasons that they choose.

There’s several options for next steps:

  • We could keep going

And try different tactics and new things to try and get more MPs on board. We could respond to more of the MPs concerns and change our law to respond to them.

But it does mean we’ll have to persuade about 180 MPs to vote differently.

  • We could stop pushing to improve the Governments law and campaign against it

The law we could end up with could be worse than getting no recall law at all. It could undermine peoples trust in democracy even further.

Also, if we stop this law, it’s more likely that we can have another go after the next election with a new government and new MPs.

  • We could use this moment as an opportunity to launch new campaigns to improve democracy

The general election is not long away – could we use this as an opportunity to make MPs more accountable? Could we be campaigning to stop MPs having two jobs for example? Could we campaign for MPs to have job descriptions? Or could we push for new ways to make sure MPs listen to us?

What do you think?

38 Degrees is driven by you. We don’t necessarily have to choose just one thing. But what do you think we should do next?

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Rochester and Strood by-election: let’s help people vote

October 28th, 2014 by

Over two thousand people in Rochester, Strood and the Hoo Peninsula won’t be able to vote in the upcoming by-election. Why? Because they’re not registered.

The parties are competing for every vote. But people who don’t register before the 4th November deadline just won’t be able to cast a ballot. Some people will be new to the area, many just don’t know how to register, or that they have to.

So, this Saturday, 38 Degrees members are heading out to knock on doors and help their neighbours register to vote. Together, we can help more people use their voice. Will you join them? Or can you chip in a few pounds to help cover the cost of registration forms and tea for the volunteers?

Where: Rochester Coffee Co, 89 High Street, Rochester, ME1 1LX
When: 10.30am, Saturday 1st November
What: Join other 38 Degrees members and the staff team at 10.30am for a quick briefing. Then we’ll head out in groups to areas where there are unregistered houses to chat to people and get them to fill in the registration form.

If we’re going to hold the next MP to account, they have to know that loads of their constituents are watching their every move – and will have their say on election day.

That’s why 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood voted to help register as many people as possible ahead of the by-election. If each of us registered just one new person, thousands more voters could wield their power at the ballot box.

So will you join other 38 Degrees members for a couple of hours on Saturday? You’ll get support and training, as well as lots of tea and biscuits. It won’t take up too much time, and it’ll do a lot of good for democracy. If you can’t make it, can you chip in a few pounds to help pay for the registration forms and tea for the volunteers?

RSVP here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/rochester-join-the-vote
Donate towards the cost of tea and forms here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/rochester-join-the-vote-donate

PS: If you’re not registered to vote, no matter where you live, just click here for details of how to make sure you are.

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What’s next for 38 Degrees in Scotland

October 28th, 2014 by

Over the last few months, people have been coming together across the country to build a movement of people passionate about creating a stronger, fairer Scotland.

There are now 300,000 members of 38 Degrees all across Scotland. We had many different views on the referendum, but we all share a desire for a fairer, more democratic Scotland in the future. And we all know that these kinds of issues are far too important to leave to politicians.

38 Degrees is an organisation that campaigns to promote positive social change, to protect the environment and to challenge injustice. Together we will pick the local and national issues that we all feel passionately about. And together we can work out ways of creating a better, fairer and more equal Scotland.

Thousands of 38 Degrees members in Scotland have shared their thoughts by filling in a short survey.

The results are pretty clear. In terms of devolution, many people have said that we should focus on responding to the Smith Commission and inviting Lord Smith to a public meeting. You can see the result and results of other priority issues below:

Below are some examples of campaigns that we are working on, and that we may work on in the future. What do you think we should prioritise:

Scotland Poll Results

Scotland Poll Results

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts