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Archive for the ‘38 Degrees Blog Posts’ Category

Blogs by the 38 Degrees team, volunteers and members.

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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MP recall committee meeting

July 11th, 2014 by

On Monday, the MP recall committee met in parliament to scrutinise a Bill funded by small donations from thousands of 38 Degrees members.

Our Recall of MPs Bill gives people, not MPs, the power to recall their MP when enough people feel their MP isn’t doing their job properly.

Read the brief summary of the meeting here: MP recall committee brief summary

If you want to read the full meeting notes, click here: MP recall committee full meeting notes

Here’s a picture from the meeting:

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TTIP: EU consultation

July 10th, 2014 by

Last Thursday, tens of thousands of 38 Degrees members fed into an EU consultation on TTIP – the trade deal that would enshrine privatisation of the NHS and allow big corporations to sue our government. But the numbers of us wanting to feed in caused ‘technical problems’ and their site crashed!

The consultation deadline was extended until the 13th July, and 38 Degrees members were given the chance to resubmit to it..

But really, it shouldn’t be necessary to fill out the consultation again. 25,000 submissions were saved by the office team while the site was down. So the 38 Degrees staff team, along with a team from organisation SumofUs, members of which also fed into the consultation last week, worked with a lawyer to send a request to the EU, asking them to let the staff team submit all 38 Degrees members letters on their behalf.

It’s a fair enough request – if the EU set up a public consultation that the public can’t actually submit to then it isn’t particularly democratic.

Here’s what we sent to the EU.

Sadly, the EU didn’t agree. Here’s their reply.

The 38 Degrees team is still going to push them to accept all of last weeks submissions. And there’ll be further actions we can take together to make sure our voices are heard in the EU.

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MP Recall committee meeting video

July 10th, 2014 by

“In a democracy, you end up trusting the people”.

Those were David Davis MP’s fitting last words as he brought the MP recall committee meeting to an end on Monday.

It was a first: bringing a committee of MPs together to scrutinise a Bill funded by small donations from thousands of us. It caused a big fuss in parliament. And even made the news!

It feels like together, we’re really getting somewhere and the government is sitting up and taking notice.

The committee meeting itself was really useful. There were some differences of opinion and lots of MPs made helpful suggestions for how to improve the Bill. But most agreed with the spirit of it – that it should be voters who decide when and how MPs should be sacked for doing a bad job.

This video gives a taster of what what happened:

Throughout the meeting, the committee referred to the survey results of your views on the Bill. Everywhere in the room you could feel the presence of 38 Degrees members – and MPs felt it too!

The lawyer – paid for by 38 Degrees members – is now working on the next version of the Bill, which includes the few small changes raised by MPs in the meeting. Some are easy to implement. But there’s a really tricky bit around how to regulate how much money can be spent during the recall process. This is to ensure that it’s fair playing field and we keep big money out of it.

Last week, 38 Degrees members said that getting this part right was important – and MPs agreed. If we don’t, it will be difficult to get the support we need to get the Bill through parliament and made into law.

But this means lots more work for our lawyer and the Bill needs to be ready before MPs leave parliament for the summer next week. Can you chip in to fund the final version of our Recall of MPs Bill?

To watch the video and donate securely, click here.

It’s a pretty extraordinary thing we’re trying to do here. It’s a radical, ambitious plan to get a real recall law, but so far everything’s going well. Once we have a real recall law that both 38 Degrees members and MPs are happy with, then we can then influence the party leaders to accept it.

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Data sharing, HMRC and a roundtable in Parliament

July 9th, 2014 by

Yesterday afternoon, nearly 70 38 Degrees members turned up at Parliament for a roundtable debate on HMRC’s proposals to open up our tax data to researchers and, well, the highest bidder.

We filled up Committee Room 14 (after thoroughly blocking up a Parliamentary corridor) – and were joined by loads of MPs (spot the suit) and lots of other MPs’ researchers.

The panel (r-l) consisted of senior Conservative MP David Davis, renowned Cambridge University security engineering professor Ross Anderson, Maddy Carroll (Campaigns Director at 38 Degrees – she chaired) and the Director of the Open Rights Group Jim Killock.

The room was quite busy!

The discussion ranged quite widely, and the panellists took questions from 38 Degrees members as well as from MPs and their researchers in the room. Lots of MPs mentioned that it’s down to so many 38 Degrees members emailing them an invite that they turned up.

And we ended with at least one firm conclusion.

The full audio of the event will be available soon, and right now HMRC are considering when they might be able to meet 38 Degrees and Open Rights Group. Every MP in the room yesterday will have left certain of the public mood, and every researcher will have headed back to their office and reported that not only do 38 Degrees members care – they seem to bringing their MPs on side. Now to persuade HMRC!

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TTIP – Day of action

July 9th, 2014 by

This Saturday, July 12th, there are events happening across the country to protest TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership. They’ve been organised by our friends over at World Development Movement, in collaboration with loads of other UK organisations who have major concerns about the negative effects of  TTIP.

There are 16 events happening all across the UK, and they’ll be a great way to raise awareness about the dangers of TTIP. There are lots of amazing events planned. There’s a People vs Corporations football match in Swindon, a boxing match between corporate interests and citizens rights in Brighton, a demonstration outside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and loads more.

Check out the list below to find out the nearest event to you:

London

Where: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 1 Victoria Street, SW1H  0ET

What time: 12:00

More information here.

Cambridge

Where: Outside Cambridge Guildhall, Market Square, Cambridge, CB2 3QJ

What time: 12:00

More information here.

Manchester

Where: Outside BHS, Market Street, Manchester

What time: 12:00-15:00

More information here.

York

Where: Kings Square, York

When: 12:00 – 15:00

More information here.

Nottingham

Where: Old Market Square, Nottingham

When: 11:00 – 13:oo

More information here.

Edinburgh

Where: The bottom of the Mound, next to the National Gallery, Princes Street, Edinburgh

When: 2pm

More information here.

Glasgow

Where: Hillhead Library, 348 Byres Road, G12 8AP Glasgow, United Kingdom

When: 11:00 – 13:00

More information here.

Brighton

Where: Opposite the Theatre Royal, New Road, Brighton

When: 11:00 – 13:00

More information here.

Bexhill and Hastings

Where: Outside HSBC on Devonshire Road

When: 11:00

More information contact Christina at luceys@talktalk.net

Derby

Where: The Spot, Wilmot St, Derby DE1 2JW

When: 11:00

More information here.

Sheffield

Where: Steps of Sheffield Town Hall, Pinstone St, S1 2HH

When:11:45am

More information here.

Swindon

Where: Crumpled Waterfall, Canal Walk, Swindon

When: 11:00-13:00

For more information contact Kate at peoplesassemblyswindon@gmx.co.uk

Norwich

Where: Friends Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, Norwich, NR2 1EW

When: 14:00-16:00

For more information contact Chris Keene at ckeene107@gmail.com or Lesley Grahame at lesley7railway@yahoo.co.uk

Reading

Where: Outside Boots, Broad Street, Reading

When: 10:30am

For more information contact Jackie at jackioversby@yahoo.co.uk

Dublin

Where: The Greenhouse, 17 St Andrew Street, Dublin

When: 11:00

More information here.

Birmingham

Where: Outside the Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham

When: 14:00

More information here.

 

 

 

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Save Jarrow NHS walk-in centre

July 9th, 2014 by

38 Degrees member Julie has started a Campaigns by You petition to protect Jarrow’s NHS walk-in centre. It’s facing closure, but she thinks its an essential local service because it was used by more than 27,000 people last year.

The decision’s being made next month, and the GPs making the decision say they’ll consult local people. The more of us that speak out now, the more chance we have of influencing them.

So if you agree with Julie, please sign the petition here.

Here’s what Julie says:

“The Walk In Centre is easily accessible and an excellent service. Local people are very concerned at the prospect of losing this local facility and feel the District Hospital in South Shields as an alternative is out of the way. Waiting two weeks to see a GP is not an option for worried parents with poorly kids, the elderly, and vulnerable patients.”

If you disagree with Julie’s campaign, or there’s another issue close to your heart, you can start your own campaign here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/visit-cby

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