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Rochester and Strood – Getting answers!

November 12th, 2014 by

Medway Maritime Hospital, tax dodging, Lodge Hill: where do the people trying to be your MP stand on issues you care about? It’s been hard to work out how the political parties compare, despite all the leaflets through our doors.

So let’s get straight answers! After a big survey and a meet up in Rochester, 38 Degrees members wrote some questions to put to the candidates. The next step was to make sure that they actually answered the questions.

In order to do that hundreds of us emailed all the candidates  - and told them just how important it was that they told us where they stand on things like the NHS and TTIP.

Rochester and Strood

Clarifying where the parties stand on issues, and letting people know, came top of what we should do together – in a survey to over 5,000 members of 38 Degrees in Rochester and Strood.

Once we hear back from the candidates, we can all compare what they say. Then we’ll be able to make a ‘candidate score-card’. Our people-powered scorecards can help voters make informed choices.

During the European elections earlier this year, over 150,000 of us helped create people-powered scorecards like this. Thousands of us used them to help decide who to vote for and shared the results by email, on Facebook and Twitter.




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Primary schools in North Port Talbot under threat

November 12th, 2014 by

Despite being marked as outstanding, the council wants to close three primary schools in North Port Talbot: in Tonmawr, Pontrhydyfen and Bryn. Children as young as 5 will be forced to get a bus to a “super primary school” with over 500 students.

38 Degrees members Helen, Malcolm and Rebecca are campaigning to stop these closures. They’ve each started a petition to protect their local schools from closure. They think well performing, well-loved schools like these should be protected, not closed.

Massive petitions could convince Neath Port Talbot council to keep them open. If enough of us support saving these schools we can show the council that we want all the good local schools to stay open.

Click here to see all three petitions. You can sign one – or all of them!

Here’s what they say:

Helen: “Every child has a right to be taught in a school of their choice.”

Malcolm: “The children of this village should be able to be taught in a safe environment within their local community.”

Rebecca: “We want to make a stand, and we want our children to be educated in their own community school, where they are very happy and very well educated.”

There’s also an adorable video too, from children at Pontrhydyfen Primary School in Wales:

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NHS England: What on earth are we paying for?

November 11th, 2014 by

Could Jeremy Hunt’s NHS executives be wasting millions of pounds of our money? For weeks, NHS England – the people he put in charge of our NHS – have been promising to show how they are spending our money. They said they’d publish their receipts by 1st November, but we’re still waiting.

The NHS is in a financial crisis, so services are being cut and doctors and nurses are being told to make massive savings. But we’re not being told how NHS England executives in HQ are spending huge chunks of our money. Are they directing money away from where it’s needed most?

38 Degrees members are teaming up with transparency campaigners Spinwatch to uncover the truth. If enough of us sign the petition to NHS England today, the public pressure could force them to open up. Together, we can get them to commit to the transparency they claim to champion. Click here to sign the petition and demand transparency from NHS England.

Here’s what Spinwatch say:

“Since May 2010, government departments and their agencies have published monthly reports on all their spending over £25,000. This was a commitment to transparency. But unlike all other government agencies, NHS England has never published details of where its money is going.”

So, how much are NHS bosses paying consultants and lobbying firms? Is there a revolving door between big business and the people making NHS policy? We have a right to check that the people at the top are spending our money wisely. Without these figures, we’ll never know.

38 Degrees members have held NHS England to account before. Together, earlier this year we got them to commit to publishing details of meetings with private companies. Now we can do it again. Let’s build a huge people-powered petition to hand to NHS bosses – and throw this issue into the spotlight.

Call on NHS England Chief Exec Simon Stevens to tell us where our money is going. Click here sign the petition. What’s he got hiding in his pandora’s box of receipts?

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Your decision: 10th November

November 10th, 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: fracking, climate change and education policies that enable every child to read 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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It’s time to protect our medical data

November 7th, 2014 by

Care.data: the scheme that would give our personal medical data to private companies. It’s being rolled out in just a few weeks’ time.

But 92% of 38 Degrees members think we should get the scheme stopped until we can make sure our health data won’t end up in private hands. So let’s get going!

The scheme’s being tested in 6 pilot areas before it goes nationwide. We’ll need to throw everything at it in these areas if we want to stop the roll-out. We’ll have to show NHS England that thousands of us will opt out of the whole scheme if they won’t let us decide who gets our personal data.

So here’s the plan:
- First we let everyone know it’s happening. Thousands of us could call people living where it’s being rolled out first, telling them about Care.data. We could flyer every house, buy local advertising space and do lots of other things.
- Next, we help people opt out. We could build a website where people can opt out of Care.data easily until NHS England fix the scheme.

But we’ll need money to make all that happen. Will you chip in to help fund a massive campaign to get Care.data stopped in the pilot areas? Click here

Done right, Care.data could be used to make our NHS better. Our data could be used by researchers to develop new treatments and improve public health. But right now, NHS England won’t let us decide who gets our data: NHS doctors and researchers, or private companies.

If the pilot goes well, Care.data will be rolled out across the country. Together, we need to stop it now – and get it fixed – before it goes national. NHS England could change the system so that we can opt out of private companies getting our data. So let’s make sure they do.

The last time NHS England tried to sneakily hand our medical records to private companies, thousands of us threatened to opt out. So they ‘paused’ the project, and it looked like they’d backed down. This time, not much has changed. Their version of Care.data still stinks.

We need to show NHS bosses we want an NHS that works for us, not private companies – if they don’t change Care.data, the public will opt out.

But we’ll only be able to do this if enough of us chip in. Can you chip in a few pounds now to stop Care.data until it’s fixed?

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Forests: we won! a personal view

November 6th, 2014 by

Hello! I’m one of the 38 Degrees staff team – and I’ve been working on the forests campaign over the last 24 hours. Here’s a personal reflection on how great the last day has been and why 38 Degrees members are so important in protecting our forests:

We’re constantly fed the idea that people feel hopeless about the environment, can’t see a way to intervene in a political system that ignores the natural crisis we face, and that the future is looking bleak.

Well, the last 24 hours have shown that we can have hope. Until last night, the government were about to sneak through a part of the Infrastructure Bill which would’ve cleared the way for forests getting sold off and built over. A hidden part of a sprawling law would have made it legal for the government to hand any public land – except that owned by the Crown Estates – to the Homes and Communities Agency, ready for building.

Over 150,000 38 Degrees members signed a petition in a day calling for the forests to be excluded from the Infrastructure Bill. Thousands of people kicked up a Twitter storm in just a few hours, tweeting peers to exclude forests.

People-power did what it does best, and forced a massive government u-turn which will see forests protected in law. Late last night, Lord Ahmed announced there will be a new amendment tabled which will see the ‘Public Forests Estate’ excluded from any sell-offs of land.

The proof that we were on to something was in the government’s knee-jerk reaction. They said that the government’s ‘intention’ was not to sell off the forests, and they said they wanted to keep them in public ownership. But words are just words until they’re law, and promises from ministers are no match for an Act of Parliament that will stay on the statute book for decades.

Forest campaigners – of which we’re just one among many – have been fighting to protect forests in law for a long time. Back in 2011, over 500,000 38 Degrees members forced the government to back down on plans to privatise them.

38 Degrees campaigns on lots of different issues, but the response to these proposals was extraordinary by anyone’s standards: this was the fastest growing petition we’ve ever seen.

So why do forest campaigns inspire such an impassioned response from thousands of ordinary people? Because woodland is used by everyone, and needed by everyone. No one wants the government to make a profit out of something which belongs to all of us, and no one wants to live in identikit towns without forests, woods or wildlife.

But forests are also a symbol of the bigger challenge we face when we fight to protect the environment. This is a fight about long-term conservation over short-term profit. And it’s a fight to protect something that’s taken centuries to grow, and can be destroyed in a decade.

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Save our forests: victory!

November 5th, 2014 by

Our forests have been saved – again! And together we played a huge part in that.

The government was trying to sneak through plans which would have paved the way for our forests to be sold off. But at the very last minute, they backed down. They u-turned and made changes which mean our forests will be protected – in law.

This is huge. For months, forest campaigners have been fighting for this. In the last 24 hours, over 150,000 of us signed a petition backing them. And it was carried into the House of Lords debate by Baroness Royall who’s been battling the plans.

As the debate started thousands of us took to twitter. Together, we made sure peers knew we were watching. The government were well aware that they were fighting a losing battle.

Baroness Royall wanted to thank 38 Degrees members.

“This is a big victory for everyone that has campaigned to protect our forests. The 38 Degrees petition was a vital part of that. I’m grateful to all who showed their support.”

A few years ago, when it looked like the government were going to sell our forests, 38 Degrees members fought long and hard to save them. And we won. This latest campaign proves how much power we have when we scramble together quickly to stand up for something we care about.

We’ll need to keep a close eye on the government. Tonight they said, on the floor of the House of Lords, that the forests will be protected. Of course we need to make sure it actually happens. For now though, it’s celebrations.


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Save our forests: update

November 5th, 2014 by

The campaign to exempt forests from the Infrastructure Bill is causing a stir. A huge 150,000 of us signed the petition, and today it was carried into the Lords as they started their debate. And the government have come back with a response.

So here’s what’s happening. At the moment, if the Infrastructure Bill gets passed as it is, our forests could be sold off by this government or future governments. In fact, it’d be legal for any public land to be transferred into private hands. Right now, the only land exempt from the new law would be land owned by the Queen or Prince Charles.

What the government have said is that they are ‘committed’ to protecting forests and the ‘intention’ is not to sell them off. But this isn’t good enough.

Because unless the protection of forests is enshrined in law, anything could happen the day, year or decade after this dangerous law is passed. Warm words are good to hear – but if the government is really committed to protecting forests, why won’t it put that protection into the law?

This is why 38 Degrees members are campaigning for forests to be officially exempted from the Infrastructure Bill.

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Tweet to save our Forests

November 5th, 2014 by

Just a few hours to go before the future of our forests is decided.

The House of Lords is voting this afternoon on a law which could see our beautiful woodlands sold off to private developers.

Twitter-savvy Lords are bound to be checking their phones on their way to Westminster. So let’s make sure they know just how many people want them to protect our forests. We can make sure they’re feeling the pressure on the #infrastructurebill before this crucial vote.

Please click here to tweet at a Lord. It’s already got all the right @s and #s in it, and there’s some suggested text too.

Baroness Royall – who’s on our side – received our people-powered petition this morning. She’ll tell the Lords that over 140,000 members of 38 Degrees signed it in under 24 hours. Tweeting the Lords now could be the extra pressure that they need to vote the right way.

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Rochester and Strood: registering voters!

November 5th, 2014 by

On Saturday, a group of about twenty 38 Degrees members got together to register local people to vote in the by-election. It was a really great day, even in the cold weather!

The election is pretty unavoidable locally – and splashed on the national news too. So people know it’s going on. But many aren’t registered to vote, and we were able to sign some of them up!

We also took the opportunity to spread the word about our hustings, which is on 20th November. If you live locally, it’s one not to be missed! Here’s some photos of us in action on the day. Firstly, us planning the day ahead:

Next, we hit the streets. Here’s some photos of two 38 Degrees members going door to door:

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