Monday, 20 April 2009

They work for you

Had a bit of a chat earlier on with one of the guys from theyworkforyou, most specifically about the topics they choose to highlight an MP's voting record. As I've said on here in the past, I think it's a bit of a crude mechanism, in both the selection of topics and also in the absence of any nuance or explanation as to what the votes were actually about. (Which I've explained on here before - e.g. regarding the Iraq inquiry vote, where the issue was actually about the timing of an inquiry, not whether it should happen or not. And the 'voting against a transparent parliament' one is the one which really gets MPs angry, as we've voted on numerous measures which have done just that over the years; it was just one specific point which people had a problem with, which was wrapped up with other issues too. But again, I've covered that on here before).

So, looking forward... The MD of the site has reassured me that it's a registered charity with no political axe to grind. They see their role as informing people about the workings of the democratic process, and basically giving people the information they need to make up their own mind. They try to explain that there is more to the stats than meets the eye; for example, your MP might not speak very much in the Chamber but may be a very assiduous member of a Select Committee. I've noticed they've started putting down Bill Committee attendance rates too; can I just say that the reason I didn't attend the one and only sitting of the Financial Mutual Arrangements Bill Committee was because the Whip didn't tell me I was on it! Apart from that, and missing one sitting of the Finance Bill Committee because the Treasury Select Committee was having a rather important meeting at the time, I think my record is rather good.

Anyway, back to the conversation with theyworkforyou. I'm told that anyone is free to suggest a topic to be covered and to provide the relevant stats, (although there is, understandably, some sort of approval process). He says he'd be happy to run with different topics, provided people out there are actually prepared to do the work. So, how about some suggestions? I'm thinking particularly on the economic front, and maybe on the equalities side too, or maybe controversial issues like stem cell research?

For the record, here's my voting record from the site, which I am quite happy to defend - but only if you make the effort to come up with some suggestions for other topics too.

Voted against a transparent Parliament.
Voted very strongly for introducing a smoking ban.
Voted very strongly for introducing ID cards.
Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws
Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war
Voted very strongly for replacing Trident
Voted for equal gay rights
Voted moderately for laws to stop climate change


Andy21 said...

Hi Kerry, I have just come across your website and blog today and I think it is great that you are putting your views across in a blog for people to see and comment on. I actually agree with the things you voted on and I hope that people don't leave any nasty comments as you don't deserve that! Keep up the good work.

andy said...

Nice of you to provide a list packed with reasons not to vote for you at the next election.

Kerry said...

I think these two might be the same person...

Glenn Vowles said...

I dont understand how you 'vote moderately' (your ref to how you voted on climate change). Dont you vote for, vote against or abstain from voting? Am I being pedantic? It just seems an odd thing for you to say.

Kerry said...

Not my reference, Glenn, this is lifted from the theyworkforyou website. Your response reflects what I've been saying - it's a fairly crude monitoring device.

What they do is look at all the votes which relate to the Climate Change Bill and I opposed a couple of amendments. But as to whether this means that someone isn't serious about the climate change issue, or whether they just thought the amendments were impractical/ unworkable/ etc, isn't shown. The links to this breakdown are shown on the site, or on the public whip site.

Hence you have the Public Health minister, Dawn Primarolo, only "moderately" supporting a smoking ban even though she voted for all the measures in the most recent bill because she missed a couple of votes on earlier, less important legislation, and voted against something to do with smoking in taxis in 1999.

Andy21 said...

Hmm, I have to admit that is a little strange lol, 2 Andy's left a comment on this, I can assure you though that I have no idea who the other Andy is, it appears they made their profile in June 2008, I made mine today so I could leave a comment on this blog :)