1. Foodbanks and TheyWorkForYou alerts

    Give Food is an independent UK charity, founded in early 2020. They run the only national public database of UK foodbanks, and provide an up-to-date index of what goods each one is asking to be donated. 

    Founder Jason Cartwright spoke to us about how Give Food makes use of TheyWorkForYou’s email alerts — and we were pleased to discover that mySociety has helped shape their offerings in other ways, too. 

    Find a foodbank near you

    The Give Food website performs a number of related functions, as Jason explains: “We help members of the public understand that there are foodbanks around them, then give them tools to donate the items that are needed or to take political action.”

    Put in your postcode and you’ll be shown a list and a map of all the foodbanks near you. If you click on one of them, you’ll see what they need, what they already have plenty of, and where you can drop donations — or in some cases, how you can purchase goods online and have them delivered directly to the foodbank.

    “We aim to help local organisations address the immediate and critical needs created by food insecurity, but the wider ultimate aim is to not exist at all, as we believe that foodbanks should not be required in our country.”

    Turning alert emails into action

    As this suggests, Give Food is not just a middleman between citizens and foodbanks, but also acts as a political campaigning organisation. So where do the TheyWorkForYou alerts come in? 

    “We use them heavily,” says Jason, “basically to inform ourselves of what is being discussed by lawmakers around our cause.

    “We’re only small, but larger charities in our field are experts at engaging the public and politicians to achieve the same aims as us, and regularly directly influence policy. 

    “TheyWorkForYou alerts allow us to see, almost in real time, which of the approaches they are using are cutting through to being discussed in Parliament and national/city assemblies.

    “We use the information about how conversation around our cause is going to influence how we approach our advertising, site usability and copy — all of which allows our users to maximise their political action.

    “For instance, as a simple example, the current cost of living crisis, especially energy bills, is having a profound effect on foodbanks. Seeing this being discussed by politicians we were able to quickly change our advertising keywords and also reflect the current conversation in the form email our users can send to their MP.”

    Open source code

    It’s great to hear of such a direct connection between our output and a charity’s ability to act. And, as it turned out, the alerts aren’t the only benefit that Give Food have gained from mySociety.

    One more useful function of the Give Food website is that you can sign up to receive an email when your local foodbank needs supplies. This isn’t powered by our code, but Jason tells us that it was modelled on TheyWorkForYou’s alerts system. 

    Finally, there’s one more important way in which we’ve influenced Give Food: “Our code and data is all open source, and that decision was 100% influenced by mySociety’s open ethos.

    “Our data is used by governments, councils, universities, supermarkets, political parties, hundreds of national & local news websites, apps, plus other charities including food banks and food bank networks themselves,” says Jason, proving that when data is set free, it can be used in a multitude of different and useful tools.

    If you’re a developer and you think Give Food’s data or code might be useful to you, start on their API page

    Thanks very much to Jason for talking to us: it’s a joy to discover the many and varied ways in which TheyWorkForYou alerts are helping others to make a difference.

    Image: FeydHuxtable (CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

  2. Improving the register of MPs interests

    Tl;dr: We’re now releasing our register of interests data as a spreadsheet.

    High quality data about the external interests of our MPs and ministers is vital to identifying conflicts of interests, and discouraging politicians from having conflicts of interest in the first place.

    Lack of clarity on the interests and income streams of MPs is a corruption risk. The problem with second jobs and outside interests is less that MPs might be distracted from their main job – but that when they stand in Parliament, they may be representing groups beyond their constituents, asking questions (or not asking questions) depending on their outside work.

    When outside interests exist, it’s vital they are clear and transparent. The Register of Members Interests contains a list of disclosures MPs are required to make of financial interests or benefits which “others might reasonably consider to influence his or her actions or words as a Member of Parliament”. Following the Owen Patterson scandal, there was renewed interest in this data, as it was clear that there were a number of potential stories and scandals hidden in plain sight – just requiring someone to join up the data.



    Building a data ecosystem

    A key problem is that the data is not easy to work with. The data is released (roughly fortnightly) on the parliament.uk website as a HTML document for each MP. This process technically releases the information, but makes it hard to compare releases of the same MP over time, or to make comparisons between different MPs.

    TheyWorkForYou improves on this by creating structured data from the HTML release. Using this we can highlight the changes in each release from the previous release. This is useful for journalists and campaigners in quickly understanding what has changed in each release. For instance, the change in Rishi Sunak’s register over time can be seen here.

    We want to avoid people doing the same work of cleaning the data over and over. We make our version of the data available publicly, so other people can use our work to do things that we haven’t done ourselves. For instance, Open Innovations have built on top of the data we publish to link the data to other datasets and create a Register of Members’ Financial Interests Explorer.

    While projects like the Tortoise/Sky News Westminster Accounts create new value in joining up datasets and cleaning the data for their own work – ultimately the new datasets they have created are only usable by those organisations. That’s their right as the people doing the work – but we think there is a bigger (and more sustainable) impact to be had in improving the data in public.

    Making our data more accessible

    Previously, we have published our interests data as a series of XML files, which is useful for programmers, but harder for other specialists to work with. We did some thinking with OpenDemocracy last year to explore if there were small changes we could make that would make the work we already do more useful.

    As well as the XML files, we now publish an experimental spreadsheet version of all data since 2000, and the register for the current 2019 Parliament.

    These sheets show the earliest and latest disclosure of an interest, and include some (very) basic NLP analysis to extract mentioned orgs from the free text and make it easier to quickly parse when scrolling.

    This data can also be explored through Datasette, which can be used to query the datasets in the browser, and save the queries as links that can be shared.

    For instance, the following links go to specific queries (we’re using an in-browser version for prototyping and this might take a minute to load):

    We want to continue to improve our approach here – and welcome feedback from anyone this spreadsheet helps.

    Parliament can do better data publication

    A key problem run into by everyone working with the data is that it’s broken to start with. MPs fill things out in inconsistent ways that makes the overall data different to analyse without cleaning first (see both the Open Innovations and Tortoise/Sky News methodology notes). Fixing this up is a key first step towards aggregate analysis – and the easiest place to fix it is with validation when the data is collected at the start.

    While work can be done to improve the data after the fact (and experiments with Generative AI have found it to be quite good at fixing inconsistent formatting), improving the initial data collection is the most effective way of improving the quality of the data. There are active moves in Parliament to fix some of these problems. Producing more information in machine readable formats, and adding methods to make sure the data is correct to start with, will make the transparency process simpler at every stage.

    Similar issues apply to the register published for All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), which should publish as “machine readable” data the range of data that the groups are formally supposed to make publicly available. APPGs are semi-official groups that MPs can form around specific interests or issues. Many of these are useful ways of having discussions, but these can also be an avenue for corruption, with outside interests supporting the group and its activities. The register includes the officers of groups and financial assistance and gifts received by the group – but not the overall membership. APPGs are separately required to disclose their wider membership on their website (or if they don’t have a website, if someone asks) but this isn’t included in the register, and so can’t be consistently scraped to produce data. While MPs are supposed to disclose benefits from groups on their individual disclosure, clearer data on what is officially “public” memberships would help ensure that there is nothing missed between these two datasets.

    Separately there is a register of ministerial interests that applies to MPs who also have government positions. This is in principle more strict, requiring disclosures of relevant interests of family members, and avoiding even perceived conflicts of interest. However, in practice the information does not contain the specific financial value of gifts or benefits, just that they exist. The disclosure cycle is also longer, being published every six months rather than monthly. In practice – this means that relevant interests may not be public for a significant time after a minister is appointed (and potentially never published, if the minister has again moved on by then).

    There is a lot of work that can be done from the outside to build on official data. But the more Parliament does things that it is uniquely able to do, the more we can focus on analysis and data comparisons that are best done outside.

    What mySociety can do

    A very basic thing we can do is beat the drum (and work with those who have been doing this for ages) for better publication of data from Parliament.

    But if this happens or not, we can do work to make the data better. If it looks like Parliament’s data is unlikely to be fixed at the source, then a project of improving the data in public in a way that multiple projects could then build on would be useful. But if the data gets better, then we can better spend our time doing more work on top of this data. This might include joining up the official data with other datasets (including those of the UK’s other Parliaments and Assemblies) to draw out connections and better analysis.

    But our work here isn’t just about producing good data – it’s about displaying it in a way that’s useful and understandable by people. Chris Bryant MP (former Chair of the Standards Committee) has argued that Parliament’s own display of the history of registers should match what’s provided by TheyWorkForYou. If Parliament improved its own display to the public of registers of members’ interests this would be fantastic news – and we in turn would need to think about if there are new approaches that would be useful on top of that.

    One approach we are thinking about would be to find out what people wanted to know the answers to about their MPs interests, and then using volunteers to answer a set of common questions. This is the kind of editorialising that Parliament itself would find much harder to do – while providing something different from aggregate analysis of the data all together. This is something we could do with the data as it exists, but is something where better data would let us create new tools so volunteers could answer more complicated questions.

    Making MPs’ interests clearer and easier to understand is key to spotting conflicts of interest and keeping politicians accountable. We hope our new spreadsheet version of the data helps make the work we’re already doing more useful and accessible – while we think about the road we want to take in future to improve TheyWorkForYou and the project of a transparent democracy.





    If you'd like to see us extending our work in democracy further, please consider making a contribution.
    Donate now

    Image: Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash.

  3. This is not just any Impact Report…

    …this is mySociety’s 20th anniversary Impact Report!

    Cover of mySociety's 20th anniversary impact reportThis has been a very special year – mySociety’s 20th anniversary.

    So we haven’t just put together our usual review of the past twelve months: this Impact Report is a special edition, covering our entire history since 2003.

    We look back at our beginnings as a small group of determined coders, and trace our history through the changes our services have made, here in the UK and across the world.

    Discover daring acts of (data) piracy, and learn which vandalised phone box sparked the idea for FixMyStreet. Find out how our “cheap and cheerful open web technology” has been instrumental in helping citizens tackle vital issues, from the climate emergency to human trafficking.

    It’s quite the read. Sit back, grab a mince pie if you have one to hand…and enjoy! Access the Anniversary Impact report here (web), or enjoy the print-faithful PDF version, or plain text and epub formats.

    And if you’re interested in our activity on the SocietyWorks side, don’t miss their own, just as engrossing, annual report: you can read that here.

  4. Shortlist announced for mySociety’s 20th anniversary awards

    The ways in which people and organisations have used mySociety’s services through the lifetime of the organisation have been impressive, inspiring and sometimes astonishing.

    So, to celebrate our 20th anniversary, on 15 November we’ll be presenting awards in five categories, showcasing impactful usage of their services through the years.

    • Driving Institutional Change
    • Accelerating Climate Action
    • Exposing Truth
    • Impactful International Reuse
    • Campaigning for Justice

    The shortlist is as follows:

    Driving Institutional Change

    • The Give Them Time campaign used WhatDoTheyKnow to get the law changed over funding for nursery care in Scotland.
    • John Graham-Cumming In 2009, John used the petitions website that mySociety had built for 10 Downing Street, resulting in Gordon Brown apologising on behalf of the British Government for its treatment of the computer scientist Alan Turing.
    • Richard Bennett used WhatDoTheyKnow, coupled with the Equality Act, to make pathways more accessible for wheelchair users, sharing his methods so that others could do the same.
    • Privacy International The ‘Neighbourhood Watched’ project used WhatDoTheyKnow to reveal the unchecked use of surveillance technology by police forces across the UK.

    Accelerating Climate Action

    • Zero Hour Using mySociety’s WriteToThem software, they’ve garnered the backing of over 150 MPs for their draft Climate and Ecology Bill.
    • Sustain used data from CAPE, our Climate Action Plans Explorer, to analyse the degree to which local authorities are including food within their strategies to cut emissions. 
    • Save the Trees of Armada Way Plymouth’s grassroots campaign fought against the removal of much-loved trees in the city centre, using WriteToThem to send emails to the local councillors — apparently, the most emails they had ever received on a single subject. 

     Exposing Truth

    • Jenna Corderoy Jenna is shortlisted for her investigation — using WhatDoTheyKnow — of the Cabinet Office’s controversial Clearing House, a secretive unit that screened  and blocked FOI requests made by journalists and campaigners, often on matters of serious public interest.
    • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism Their Sold From Under You project used crowdsourced and FOI data to reveal how much publicly-owned property was sold off by councils across England, in an attempt to fill funding gaps caused by austerity measures. 
    • Lost in Europe worked with people running FOI sites on our Alaveteli platform, in 12 different countries, to uncover previously unknown statistics around how many children disappear at borders

    Impactful International Reuse 

    • Dostup do Pravda/Access to Truth The Ukrainian Freedom of Information site continues providing access to information even in the difficult circumstances of war.
    • vTaiwan, Public Digital Innovation Space, and the Taiwanese Ministry of Digital Affairs The Taiwanese government uses mySociety’s SayIt software to make deliberations on difficult subjects public and accessible to citizens.
    • DATA Uruguay The organisation has built both FixMyStreet and Freedom of Information sites on mySociety’s codebases, changing the way their governments  communicate with citizens at both local and national levels.

    Campaigning for Justice 

    • Doug Paulley is a lifelong campaigner for rights for disabled people, using FOI to fight against access discrimination, especially around public transport.
    • Eleanor Shaikh has dedicated hours and hundreds of FOI requests to finding out the truth behind the Post Office Horizon scandal, with her findings making front page headlines.
    • After Exploitation use Freedom of Information to uncover the failings of the government’s measures to protect vulnerable detainees.

    Of course, every single user of our services is a winner in our eyes – but watch this space to find out who takes home the award in each category!

    Image: Rene Böhmer

  5. The Climate and Ecology Bill is gaining traction – with the help of WriteToThem

    You might know our WriteToThem service as an easy way to contact your representatives – which it definitely is! But did you realise that it’s also doing heavier lifting, helping proposed legislation gain support in Parliament?

    We’ve already seen how Power for People have mobilised their supporters this way: and Zero Hour is also running a successful campaign around a draft Bill. 

    zero hour logoZero Hour’s campaign centres around the Climate and Ecology Bill, in which they lay out a comprehensive and joined-up approach to the climate and nature emergency. A cornerstone of their strategy relies on getting their supporters to contact their representatives and ask them for their backing. 

    We asked Amy McDonnell, co-Director of Zero Hour to give us a bit more background and to explain the thinking behind the Bill. 

    Amy explained, “It’s the only current or proposed legislation that tackles the interconnected nature-climate emergency together.

    “We formed the campaign to provide a pathway to getting cross-party support for a legislative solution that will ensure that the UK delivers a science-led, people-powered plan on biodiversity and climate.”

    We were interested to know more about how rallying individuals can pave the way to change. 

    Amy told us, “We’ve always depended on our grassroots movement. MPs really care about what their constituents think, and writing to them is incredibly impactful. Moving forwards, we know that we can only win with people on the ground by turbocharging our activity in Parliament.”

    So how did they make the decision to bring WriteToThem onto their website? 

    “We knew that we needed an integrated tool on our site. The WriteToThem tool was key, as we recognise that people’s priorities are stretched and time is precious. So we used WriteToThem to ensure that supporters could contact the MP where they live with the click of a button. 

    “This has been incredibly effective, with thousands of our supporters asking their MPs to support the Climate and Ecology Bill. Having the mechanism to write to MPs with ease has been crucial to the success of the campaign to date, providing insightful responses and opening opportunities for our team to have engaging conversations with members of all political parties on how we can all work together to create an integrated strategy to tackle nature-climate emergency together.”

    WriteToThem doesn’t allow for mass, identical messages from users, and we were curious to know whether that had created any kind of challenge. Quite the reverse, as it turns out:

    We’ve found that fewer, personalised messages are a lot more impactful than thousands of standard emails, which can easily be blocked and ignored.

    “Our approach has always been to maximise not just the action taken by our supporters, but critically the impact that our supporters can make. Through providing guidance on how to personalise messages, we can avoid emails being dismissed or reaching spam folders.”

    And that has a knock-on effect on the way campaigners feel about taking action. 

    “The effectiveness is leading to visible progress, and that’s critical in ensuring that subsequent supporters see there’s a point in taking action on the campaign. So, we created the tool in a way that allows them to craft a personal messages about why the CE Bill can deliver a prosperous, nature-rich UK, that benefits nature, jobs and health for all, in their own words — and it will go directly to the right representative.

    “We know this has proven fruitful, as we commonly get meaningful responses from MPs which move the campaign forward — they can create an opportunity for further conversation about meeting our shared objectives on climate and nature.” 

    And WriteToThem helps in other fundamental ways, too:

    “It reduces the barrier of users having to search for their MP’s details and contact them in a more manual way. It saves supporters time. 

    “We knew mySociety was a very reputable and trustworthy organisation that could deliver the reliability we required in providing functional tools to best engage with the political system and felt the tool was a perfect match to get the engagement we were seeking from the campaign. The choice to use WriteToThem has been instrumental in the success of our campaign.”

    So would they recommend it to other campaigns looking to follow a similar model?

    “Absolutely. We would wholeheartedly recommend campaigns utilise WriteToThem as it’s a reliable and convenient tool for ensuring your campaign is not only seen by a maximum number of representatives but also vitally providing engaged responses. 

    “We can say without question that the tool increased the frequency of our supporters contacting MPs. This has provided invaluable leverage; opened doors and raising the profile of the CE Bill for us to build support which now stretches across all major parties.”

    Indeed, support now comes from 132 MPs, 40 Peers, the Mayor of London, 240 local councils, 192 scientists and 500 organisations — you can find Zero Hour’s full list of supporters here.

    “Frequently when we call MPs’ offices about events, briefings and other matters, office staff mention they have received numerous emails on the Climate and Ecology Bill, and that is a testament to the power of the WriteToThem tool, as MP’s have a large number of competing campaigns and prioritises in their inboxes daily. So, if you are looking for a way to easily connect supporters with their MP to increase awareness and engagement on key campaigns, it’s very effective.”

    Well, we couldn’t hope for much more than that! We’re very glad to have helped underpin such an essential campaign.

    If you’d like to find out more, head to zerohour.uk. And if you feel inspired to write to your MP about the Climate & Ecology Bill, you can do so here

    For those who would like to be kept up to date with all Zero Hour’s activities, the best way is to sign up as a supporter.

     

     

     —

    Image: Nuno Vasco Rodrigues / Climate Visuals Countdown (CC by-nc-nd 4.0)

  6. WriteToThem supports local campaigning

    In Plymouth, a determined group is fighting to save trees from being cut down in the city centre. They’re called STRAW, an acronym for Save the TRees of Armada Way.

    A small and local campaign it may be, but we recently noticed that it was sending a significant number of people to our ‘contact your representatives’ site WriteToThem. Curiosity piqued, we got in touch to find out more.

    Ali from STRAW was glad to talk to us. “The campaign started last September”, she explained, “when I learned that Plymouth City Council planned to regenerate Armada Way, a wide pedestrianised area which was covered in trees and runs through the heart of the city. It’s an area I live near, and was very fond of.

    “It was clear that some of the trees would have to be cut down in order to implement the design, and I was surprised I hadn’t heard about this plan before, since it looked like it was definitely going ahead, and quite soon.”

    A campaign is born

    What do you do when you find out that an unwanted change is planned in your own neighbourhood? Gather other people who feel the same, and go on a fact-finding mission, that’s what!

    And indeed, Ali explains: “I realised that I had no power on my own, so I decided I’d try and find out if other people knew about the plan and whether they were happy about it. 

    “Not long after, we discovered it wasn’t the case that some trees would be felled in order for the council to realise their new design. It was 99% of the 137 trees! 

    “Most of them were healthy, and most had been planted in the 80s, so they were trees which people had a real connection to. They’d grown up with them. They were like a little green oasis from quite a harsh urban landscape – an urban forest.”

    Democracy in action

    Once these startling facts had been pinned down, the group needed to take action. Their website provides multiple opportunities for activism: posters you can print out, a chance to donate, a petition to sign, and facts about the trees. Oh, and that link to WriteToThem!

    “The campaign was really one of public awareness”, says Ali. “But we also asked the people of Plymouth to contact the decision-makers and let them know how they felt about what was planned, and that they were unhappy that they had not been consulted on it.

    “We figured that if enough people wrote, they would realise what a bad decision it was. Democracy in action!”

    First steps into politics

    Since it’s a local campaign, STRAW encourages supporters to contact their councillors rather than their MP. WriteToThem doesn’t need you to know who your reps are before you email them, which proved very useful. 

    “Many people had no idea who their councillors were, and had certainly never written to them before. If nothing else, the campaign has got a lot more people in Plymouth to pay attention to local politics,” says Ali. 

    “The thought of having to look up who your councillor is before writing to them is a real barrier for people. WriteToThem makes it so easy, I really think it made a difference.

    “We saw it a bit like a protest. Rather than blocking the streets, we filled councillors’ inboxes with passionate messages – not to be vexatious but to show our strength of feeling. We heard that Plymouth City Council have never had anywhere like the amount of correspondence as they had on this issue. We didn’t get many responses but we knew we’d got our message over.”

    An ongoing campaign

    STRAW had a significant initial success: “In November, at a council meeting, the council passed a motion to pause the project to review it, to determine whether any more trees could be worked into the design. 

    “This was two months before we presented them our petition, and was directly as a result of their being inundated with emails!”

    But unfortunately, there was a huge setback when the plan went ahead regardless. 

    Chopped down trees in front of a fenced off area in Armada Way, Plymouth

    “We’re now in a legal case with the council over the way the Armada Way project has been handled,” says Ali, “and we are fighting to save the 20 trees which weren’t cut down in March as a result of a last minute injunction we managed to obtain.”

    Sad news, but it’s great to hear they’re still fighting on. and Ali reckons that even if STRAW didn’t achieve everything it had hoped for, their actions have still had a net positive effect. 

    “We’re hoping that the campaign will mean that there’s better public consultation in the future. We’ve demonstrated that local people really do care about how their city looks; they want a voice and they care about urban trees and the many benefits mature urban trees bring. 

    “We’d like the council to better consult not only with local people but local stakeholder groups and local experts, most of whom have been overlooked in recent years.”

    Trees matter

    There’s been a growing understanding of the importance of trees within the urban landscape, and particularly in the context of the climate emergency.

    They provide useful shade as the temperature rises; they decrease carbon, help mitigate flooding, increase biodiversity by providing homes for insects, birds and other creatures; and of course they simply make harsh city streets seem more appealing. A tree provides a natural place under which to place a table and chair, for example, reclaiming street use for people rather than traffic.

    Dark Matter Labs has produced this graphic to explain these benefits and more. See more in their Trees As Infrastructure project.

    a graphic showing how trees can reduce noise levels, improve wellbeing, decrease crime levels and reduce carbon among many other benefits.

    Image by Dark Matter Labs; click to see bigger

    A tool for campaigners

    With all this in mind, small neighbourhood campaigns to preserve trees seem all the more vital, and we’re pleased that our services can help. Would Ali recommend that others use WriteToThem as part of their campaigning toolkit?

    “Absolutely. WriteToThem really is so useful; it’s a wonderful tool. 

    “And if you’re campaigning about a situation that lots of people feel passionately about, it can only help if we make our elected officials aware of how we feel.”

    Many thanks to Ali for sharing STRAW’s story. If you’d like to get involved, you can find out more on their website.

     

  7. Navigating the new constituencies

    This blog post is part of our Repowering Democracy series. This year we will be publishing a series of short pieces of writing from mySociety staff and guest writers who are thinking about how our democracy works and are at the frontlines of trying to improve it.

    This week our senior researcher, Alex Parsons, shares data we’ve produced about new constituencies, and how we should steer the process of boundary reform towards making our politics easier to navigate.

    The current set of parliamentary constituencies is being replaced for the next election. For some, the main effect is a name change, but for others the borders of constituencies will change substantially.

    Boundary reviews are carried out by four separate organisations — one for each nation — who each set their own boundaries. This means that no-one officially produces a single dataset of all the new constituencies covering the whole UK.

    That seems like a useful thing to have, so we’ve created it. We’ve made:

     

    This contains both the official GSS id, and a unique ID based on the three letter IDs for new constituencies created by Philip Brown and Alasdair Rae for their hexmap of the new constituencies. This is useful in some instances because the GSS codes are not unique to the new constituencies (some Scottish constituencies are unchanged).

    Screenshot of a postcode in mapit, showing the different kind of boundaries available.


    Political equality means more than equal seats

    There are 650 MPs in the UK Parliament, each is elected from a constituency, and each constituency only has one MP.

    The main change in the new rules is reducing the tolerance for differences in the number of registered voters between constituencies, and ending the previous separate weighting of Wales. This means that some areas are affected much more than others by the change – with the number of Welsh seats reduced by eight, and Scotland losing two seats in total.

    Boundary changes aren’t just a technical process, but have impacts on the results of elections. In the UK, politicians can’t directly draw boundaries, but this doesn’t mean they’re not a political choice. The boundary commissions follow the rules they are set, but what these rules are (and how often they happen) are the subject of political debate where everyone has one eye on the outcomes that different sets of rules produce. The debate about “equal size constituencies” versus boundaries that reflect “natural communities” is in part about different perceived partisan advantages of drawing lines in different ways.

    Advocates of constituencies of equal size argue that this is about political equality. Now, we like political equality, but taking this argument seriously should lead you way past equal size to supporting a move to proportional representation. In practice, everyone in this debate accepts trade-offs between political equality and other factors. If we’re not going to have proportional representation, we think clear lines between different levels of government are features that should have real weight.

    Effective and understandable layers of representation

    We are in favour of layers of representation that are effective and easy to understand. Through postcode lookups on TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem we can explain the overlaps for a user’s own postcode, but the simpler the system the easier it is for people to understand what is happening – whether or not they visit one of our websites.

    When boundaries are less complex, it’s also easier for people working inside the system to understand how the pieces fit together. Tighter requirements on populations means more constituencies will cross local authority boundaries. Using our new datasets, we can say that the number of constituencies that have more than 5% of its population in at least one other local authority has increased from 26% to 38%.

    This means there are an increasing number of MPs who have a harder job than others – working with different or multiple local authorities depending on the issue at hand. Knowledge and understanding of local systems is much more complicated for these MPs, and getting problems to the right place is more challenging for their staff.

    Number of local authorities Current constituencies % Future constituencies %
    1 478 74% 404 62%
    2 155 24% 220 34%
    3 16 2% 26 4%
    4 1 0% 0%

    Tighter requirements also mean more frequent changes. The current timetable will lead to this process being repeated every other election, disrupting understanding of constituencies and processes of accountability.

    The reason we’ve produced this data in the first place is to help organisations we are working with transform information they have about current constituencies into information that is useful for new constituencies. Institutions inside and outside the formal political system develop an understanding of the country that is disrupted by changing boundaries.

    This problem also applies to the understanding MPs have of their own area – both in terms of learned understanding, and statistics and reports created to inform them. Changing boundaries means everyone has to change their understanding of what a constituency looks like. This is all bad from the point of view of effective understanding and interrelation of layered government.

    Something that should be key when designing our political system is making sure that it can be understood by citizens and representatives, and supports effective communication between layers of government.

    If we designed our institutions and boundaries to be easily navigated, rather than meet mathematical rules, what would that look like? Certainly there should be better alignment between different layers of government, but can we go further than that? We want better postcode data so that we can fix the problems of when the same postcode is in multiple areas, but from a public understanding point of view – why shouldn’t the line drawers respect postcode boundaries in the first place? They’re a lot more real to people than the process that produces our boundaries now.

    The way we draw our boundaries is part of wider arguments about the different priorities we have when we design political institutions – and the idea that things should be easy to understand and navigate is currently undervalued.





    If you'd like to see us extending our work in democracy further, please consider making a contribution.
    Donate now

    Image: Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash.

  8. Mass mobilisation of supporters with WriteToThem

    Power for People would like to see a transformation in the way we provide energy in this country – by removing barriers to small-scale renewable energy schemes, owned and run by people in their local communities. 

    They’ve written draft legislation — the Local Electricity Bill — and are currently campaigning for it to be made law. Since our TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem services are an integral part of their campaign, we were keen to find out more.

    Power For People’s Corinna Miller was happy to help, firstly by explaining what drives the campaign: “We’re in the midst of an energy price crisis. It’s never been more obvious that we need cheap, clean, home-produced energy.”

    And their vision is one of a sweeping change to the UK’s energy provision. Right now, provision is limited to a few big monopolies with profits disappearing into shareholders’ pockets; Power for People advocate clearing the path for small sustainable energy projects, with profits that would stay local.

    “There’s such huge potential in our cities, towns and villages, for growth in small-scale renewable energy generation – especially by local groups that would provide cheaper, greener power and distribute the benefits across their local communities.

    “But at the moment, such schemes only generate 0.5% of the UK’s electricity – largely due to the prohibitive costs they face in accessing local markets.” 

    So how do mySociety’s services fit into their campaign? It’s down to Power For People’s belief that mass mobilisation can bring change — and that all links back to the experience of their Director Steve Shaw, says Corinna. 

    “In 15 years working both at environmental NGOs and as a freelancer, Steve worked on campaigns that were instrumental in getting new laws passed – like the Household Waste Recycling Act, bringing in the doorstep recycling collection that all our homes now have; and the Climate Change Act, setting a legally binding target for the government to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions — which has resulted in almost all of the UK’s coal power stations closing and the building of the world’s biggest offshore wind farms.

    “These were great successes, and one thing Steve learned from them was that grassroots focused campaigns, mobilising tens or hundreds of thousands of people to lobby their MPs at the constituency level, when done in a coordinated way over a long-term arc, are extremely effective.”

    And of course, to help people contact those MPs, what better than free web services like TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem? 

    Power for People’s website first sends you to TheyWorkForYou to find out who your MP is, then provides a list to check against and discover whether or not they already support the Local Electricity Bill.

    Once you know what their stance is, you’re in a far better position to write a persuasive message to your MP, says Corinna, and WriteToThem is the final step on that path. 

    “We wanted to streamline the communication process so each supporter didn’t feel like they had to do too much extra work. Whether an individual has contacted their MP before or not, offering them a tool to help easily find and write to them, all in one place, felt like the best solution to get people to take action in support of the campaign. 

    “WriteToThem has a wonderfully streamlined system that people trust and we have found people take effective action with this tool.”

     WriteToThem doesn’t allow for copy and pasted messages, and Corinna says she finds they’re often blocked by MPs’ servers in any case. “Instead, we direct people to helpful facts that they can share with their local leaders — and we give them bespoke advice when they receive a response. 

    “We highly encourage back-and-forth communication, so that the MP understands that the campaign is not going to go away until action is taken at a parliamentary level. People care about this issue, and we want MPs to know that.” 

    It sounds like everything’s working nicely for Power For People, who say that their Bill already has the support of 322 MPs from all partiesa figure which includes 128 Conservativesalong with 110 local authorities and county councils. 

    “Our main call to action continues to be for people to write to their MP, which is why WriteToThem is such a key tool for us. Helping streamline the communication process and helping people write to their local leaders has been vital to the success of the campaign so far.”

    And so, what advice would they give to other organisations considering using WriteToThem for their own campaigns?

    “Definitely help people curate their own message to their MP, by being specific to their constituency. This requires a bit more time speaking to your supporters but it’s worth it to get an MP interested in what you are calling for. Be specific. Try to keep each email short and polite, with a single request for the MP.”  

    Many thanks to Corinna for sharing such interesting background details to the campaign. If you’d like to learn more about Power for People and get involved, visit their website.  

    Meanwhile, if you’re running a campaign yourself and think it might benefit from WriteToThem’s free service, there’s lots of useful information here.

    Image: Chelsea

  9. TheyWorkForYou in the 19th century

    This blog post is part of our Repowering Democracy series. This year we will be publishing a series of short pieces of writing from mySociety staff and guest writers who are thinking about how our democracy works and are at the frontlines of trying to improve it.

    This week Dr Kathryn Rix writes about the opening up of parliamentary information in the 19th century. TheyWorkForYou is twenty years old, but in many respects is a digital continuation of similar projects and arguments about parliamentary transparency that go back centuries.

    Learning more about this history helps situate our work in the longer context – and this period (with league tables of MPs, arguments about league tables of MPs, and a clear illustration of the link between changes to the physical building and transparency), is one with obvious application to our work today.

    On 22 February 1836 a landmark vote took place in the House of Commons. It was significant not because of the issue involved – a local railway bill – but because for the first time, MPs left the chamber to vote in two separate division lobbies, following which an official division list was published, recording the names of every MP voting in the majority and minority.

    The publication of these official lists from 1836 made it far easier for those outside Westminster to scrutinise and assess the activities of their representatives. One Radical MP described this change as “perhaps one of the most important measures ever sanctioned, as a check upon the conduct of members”.

    Before this ground-breaking division, the official records of the Commons gave only the names of the tellers who counted the votes in each division, and the total number of MPs voting on each side. The Commons had just one lobby, so when divisions took place, the presumed majority stayed in the chamber to be counted there, and the presumed minority went out into the lobby.



    The informal record

    Although there was no official record of how each MP voted, some MPs – notably the Radical backbencher Joseph Hume – compiled their own lists of divisions and supplied these for publication in the newspapers. However, these unofficial lists were usually produced only for more important divisions and sometimes gave the names of those in the minority, but not the majority. They were notoriously inaccurate, and MPs regularly wrote to the press correcting errors.

    Pressure to improve this system and publish a full official record of every division increased after the 1832 Reform Act, the first major reform of the British electoral system. One of the Act’s key aims was to restore public confidence in government by making the Commons more responsive and accountable to public opinion. In this spirit, the Radical MP Daniel Whittle Harvey put the case for official division lists, arguing that:

    “every person now acknowledged that responsibility, and not secresy [sic] and concealment, was the basis of the trust reposed in the hands of Representatives by their constituents … In a Reformed Parliament he believed, that all hon. Members would be desirous that their constituents should know how they voted”.

    A select committee in 1834 felt the best option for compiling accurate official division lists would be to construct a second division lobby, but the cramped conditions of the Commons chamber made this impractical. However, when MPs moved into temporary accommodation following the catastrophic fire at Westminster in October 1834, this obstacle was removed. The additional second lobby, which facilitated the publication of official division lists, was built during the 1835-6 recess. It became an integral part of the Commons and was replicated in the new Palace of Westminster designed by Charles Barry.

    Use by newspapers and journalists

    Information extracted from the official division lists was widely reproduced and analysed in the newspaper press, as well as in guides to MPs’ voting behaviour, such as An Atlas of the Divisions of the House of Commons (1836), which listed every MP’s vote in the 1836 parliamentary session in a tabular form. Such analysis of MPs’ votes was not entirely new. Richard Gooch’s The Book of the Reformed Parliament (1834) had tabulated MPs’ votes in selected divisions in 1833 and 1834, and had been used at the 1835 general election to challenge MPs in several constituencies about their attendance levels at Westminster. MPs had, however, disputed the accuracy of Gooch’s publication, based as it was on unofficial records. At Droitwich, where his opponent calculated that he had voted in just 11 of the 116 divisions listed by Gooch, John Foley insisted that his votes “had been given much nearer ninety-nine times than nine”.

    A grid of divisions ands MPs marking absences and votes.

    Extract from Atlas of Divisions (1836)

    The publication of official division lists meant that MPs could no longer try to shirk responsibility for particular votes by claiming that they had been misreported. Another highly significant development was that, with all divisions fully recorded, accurate calculations could be made of how many times MPs voted each session. The Atlas displayed these totals against each MP’s name, a novel feature which one commentator tellingly described as “a scale of diligence” by which voters could measure “the conduct of representatives”.

    Rankings and league tables

    National and local newspapers compiled and dissected figures on MPs’ attendance levels on a weekly and annual basis, making it much easier for voters and the wider public to access this information and use it to call MPs to account. While annual attendance statistics sometimes listed their names alphabetically, it became common for MPs to be ranked alongside their colleagues – either nationally or regionally – on the basis of how often they had voted, producing what were effectively ‘league tables’ of MPs. The Gateshead Observer referred to its annual attendance tables of north-eastern MPs as a ‘parliamentary audit’ or ‘reckoning day’. MPs had been accustomed to explaining to their constituents how they had voted, but increasingly also found themselves having to justify how often they did so.

    For those MPs who appeared towards the top of these tables, these statistics provided welcome proof of their diligence. After being ranked as the fifth most attentive MP during the 1840 session, Henry Salwey, MP for Ludlow, was praised by his supporters as “most assiduous, and most constant – ever vigilant in promoting … the local interests placed in his care, and the general welfare of the community”. In contrast, other MPs and their supporters rejected attempts to reduce their Commons contribution to mere numbers. At the 1841 Hertfordshire election, the voting record of the Conservative MP Abel Smith was compared unfavourably with his Liberal opponent, who had voted three times more often. One of Smith’s backers argued, however, that “we don’t count the number of divisions – we look to the importance of them: we don’t wish our member to sit through every paltry discussion – as though nailed to the benches”.

    The reaction of the quantified MP

    The question of how useful these attendance figures were as a measure of MPs’ commitment to representing their constituents was widely debated during the nineteenth century. The Morning Chronicle was not alone in mocking the idea that an MP’s “whole duty … consists in walking in and out of the lobbies”. It was pointed out that notable figures such as Lord John Russell (a former prime minister) – who voted in 28 of 198 divisions in 1856 – and William Gladstone (a future prime minister) – with 58 votes that session – would be found lacking if judged only by this measure. The ‘Division-list Test’, as one MP labelled it, failed to take account of MPs’ contributions in other areas of the work of the Commons, particularly in serving on committees. Although one Worcester newspaper noted the relatively poor attendance of the local MP, Joseph Bailey, in divisions, it observed “in justice” to Bailey that “his labours on Committees have been incessant”.

    There were other reasons why voting in numerous divisions was not necessarily seen as demonstrating dedication to parliamentary business. The influx of MPs from the smoking or refreshment rooms when the division bell rang, without having heard the preceding debate, was often commented upon.

    Such behaviour prompted the Conservative MP Charles Adderley to argue that there could be “no worse test of a man being a useful member of Parliament”, since “a man might attend every division… and be the idlest dog in the House”. Another argument against testing MPs’ diligence in this way was that the overall totals did not distinguish between critical issues and less significant matters, such as local or private bills which did not affect the MP’s constituency. William Scholefield, generally seen as a hard-working representative, told his Birmingham constituents that he had deliberately abstained in many such cases, since “I will never vote on a bill unless I distinctly know what I am going to vote about”. Yet while the use of the “Division-list Test” could be challenged in various ways, it continued to be seen as a useful indicator for constituents in deciding whether their representatives had been attentive or neglectful in carrying out their parliamentary duties.

    Images: ‘Division barrier and lobby’ and it is taken from pg. 409 of J. Ewing Ritchie, The life and times of William Ewart Gladstone. The pictorial edition Volume I.

    Dr Kathryn Rix is Assistant Editor of the House of Commons, 1832-1945 project at the History of Parliament Trust, which is currently researching electoral and parliamentary history between 1832 and 1868.





    If you'd like to see us extending our work in democracy further, please consider making a contribution.
    Donate now

  10. It should be easier for MPs to vote

    This blog post is part of our Repowering Democracy series. This year we will be publishing a series of short pieces of writing from mySociety staff and guest writers who are thinking about how our democracy works and are at the frontlines of trying to improve it.

    As part of this work, we are working to solidify our views on where Parliamentary reform would work in a complimentary way with the principles behind our services. This week our senior researcher, Alex Parsons, discusses how changes to how MPs vote can improve both transparency and the parliamentary working culture.

    Improving how MPs vote isn’t just about adopting new technology. The sudden move in the pandemic from MPs physically packing into voting lobbies to voting on their phones felt like catching up with a century of technology all at once. But that period was over quickly and things are now (roughly) back to how they were before.

    This is because parliamentary processes also reflect political culture. Thomas Edison proposed an electronic voting system for the US Congress in 1869, but one wasn’t actually implemented for 90 years after that. The technology existed, but that wasn’t enough.

    New technologies can change who holds power and threaten how things work. Decisions about technology become wrapped up in fights to preserve or change political culture. When thinking about technological changes, we can’t just approach it as a project of modernisation – we need to have a view on the culture we want to create.

    Our view is that when MPs vote, we want processes that create transparency on the votes of individuals, that help create an effective working culture, and are sensitive to the circumstances of representatives’ lives.

    These elements are not separate. Both transparency around voting and sensitivity to the lives of representatives are important to creating an effective democratic working culture. The approach needs to balance the fact that MPs are standing in for the rest of us, with the fact that they are also people, and are entitled to decent working conditions like anyone else.

    This leads to three recommendations on how the UK Parliament should handle its internal votes:

    • The House of Commons should in normal circumstances, defer votes to a standardised voting time (within ‘core hours’), where multiple votes are held in succession.
    • These votes should be held through a fast electronic means – whether through terminals, voting pass systems, or apps.
    • Current proxy voting schemes should be extended to personal discretion to designate a proxy – e.g. a set number of days a year a proxy vote can be allocated, no questions asked.

    In this week’s blog post, I’m going to walk through a bit of the backstory to this thinking, and the benefits of this approach.



    How votes work now

    Currently, when a decision point is reached in a debate, there is a “voice vote” in the room to test if anyone objects. If they do, MPs vote by physically moving into two rooms connected to the debating chamber. Two different systems kick in here – MPs tap their passes on readers to record how they individually voted, while Tellers (two sets of two MPs) count the number of people who entered to report back for the purpose of the vote. This takes quite a long time, and a vote can last around 15 minutes. Part of this includes an eight minute window for MPs to reach the lobbies from elsewhere in the Parliamentary estate.

    The current system isn’t pointlessly antiquated and slow, it is antiquated in a way that supports the way power currently works in the Commons. A slower voting process discourages too many votes – which reflects the reality that non-government approved amendments do not win, and MPs aren’t really engaged in a functional process of improving legislation. The lobbies themselves are defended as an opportunity for MPs to talk to ministers, but the influence also works the other way. The lobby system is a physical and intimidating process of sorting that enforces party unity and discourage rebellion. It is a more difficult thing for someone to walk into a room of their enemies, while being shouted at by their friends, than it is to press a button.

    Any change from this system has the potential to disrupt how power works, shifting power away from a shared consensus of party leadership (who, regardless of the specific issue, are in favour of MPs doing what parties say) and enabling more individual action by MPs.

    Our view is that this broadly would be a good thing – empowering individual MPs and Parliament collectively over the party leaderships would enable a culture closer to what citizens collectively want from MPs. Importantly, it also helps create a better working environment for MPs themselves.

    Why we care about the votes of individual MPs

    To provide better information through TheyWorkForYou, we need more complete individual voting data. The more formal mechanisms there are to manage absences, the more we can say what an MP’s vote in comparison to their party’s vote means, and produce better information for our users. Giving disclaimers and saying “it’s more complicated than that” is one approach, but it’s better to fix the problem at the source.

    Ultimately we think that MPs are responsible for how they vote and that giving more power to MPs helps them keep their promises to us. The growing amount of “rebellions” (where MPs vote against their parties) is assumed (at least in part) to result from TheyWorkForYou making individual voting records more salient. While MPs do not have strong individual mandates, they do have opinions about where leadership is drifting beyond what they said in elections. We think it is more effective for the responsibility of remembering promises to be distributed among a party, rather than seeing an election as endorsement of any and all future decisions of the party leadership.

    We’re not blindly pro-rebellions, but we think it’s important to create the space where they’re a real option available to MPs. We want better data, but we also want to give MPs more room to make decisions.

    Separating debates from votes

    Grouping votes is already the standard working pattern in the Scottish Parliament and Senedd. The Scottish Parliament groups votes into a “decision time” at the end of the day; the Senedd similarly has a “voting time”. Combined with electronic voting systems – these parliaments can handle a number of votes in the time it takes the Westminster commons time to do one vote. This was also a recommendation of Sarah Childs’ Good Parliament Report, and the Fawcett Society’s A House for Everyone.

    But is it right to split up debates and votes? The Parliament website says that parliamentary “[d]ebates are designed to assist MPs and Lords to reach an informed decision on a subject. This decision is then often expressed in a vote (called a ‘division’), for or against”. Don’t we want MPs to make decisions following the debate so their votes are informed by the arguments they’ve heard?

    The problem is this description is technically true, but fiddly in the details. While debates are an opportunity for individual MPs to talk about principle and specific issues with legislation, when we move to votes, party power asserts itself. MPs who were never part of the debate are summoned by the division bell, and the vote is decided by who holds power in Parliament, rather than strong arguments made in the moment.

    Debates and votes are connected indirectly. The best way of describing the process is that parliamentary debates are the visible portion of a wider set of conversations between groups of MPs as well as between government MPs and leadership. These conversations pre-determine the outcome of votes, by finding if there are any areas the government will accept and support amendments on, or to save face, will more quietly accept in the Lords rather than the Commons. It’s not that MPs’ concerns and opinions go nowhere, just that the method they can have impact is indirect. To describe this isn’t to say it’s good, or an ideal way of working, just that it is not important for how the Commons currently works for votes to directly follow the debate they relate to.

    The connection between debates and votes is part of a long debate about the role of MPs and technology. Jacob Rees-Mogg, in arguing against remote electronic voting, argued that if MPs didn’t “have the inconvenience of having to be here physically, they don’t necessarily take it as seriously”. This is a less substantial version of Thomas Wakley’s 1839 complaint about having division bells at all – where he found it “most mischievous, that hon. Members should come down there to vote upon a question without having heard one word of the discussion”.

    Ultimately, Wakley has lost this argument – but separating out debates and votes, and moving towards a decision time, at the least removes one source of party pressure, and helps build an effective working culture that also has good transparency to the rest of the country.

    This decision time should be held within some concept of “core hours” for Parliament – helping most MPs make the voting period within their other responsibilities, personal and professional.

    Being sensitive to the lives of MPs

    Sometimes MPs can’t make it to Parliament for reasons that are part of the normal human experience. People have children and people get sick. These are things we recognise as important to safeguard in employment law, but there are difficulties for MPs in applying this to MPs who are effectively self-employed, but with obligations to constituents.

    The way Parliament currently balances this is through proxy votes – where MPs can, in circumstances like maternity/paternity leave or prolonged sickness, designate another MP to cast a vote on their behalf. Similar mechanisms now operate in the Scottish Parliament and Senedd. In TheyWorkForYou, proxy votes are displayed the same as normal votes, with a note of who the proxy vote was cast by.

    The proxy vote system (introduced in 2019) was a result of two factors. The first is a long running trend where TheyWorkForYou (or similar analysis) highlighted individual voting records in a way that did not capture informal mechanisms of managing long absences like pairing – where parties mutually agree a list of absent MPs so the final result is not affected by absences. While in practice the absence is being accounted for, this is happening in a way that is not transparent to the public. In 2018, women MPs argued that TheyWorkForYou metrics were part of a standard where MPs had to work too soon after having children. This more broadly reflects the issue that Parliament and political life are structured in such a way that assumes the model MP is male, and TheyWorkForYou reinforced rather than challenged this.

    The second factor was that a breakdown of trust between parties on pairing led to heavily pregnant MPs needing to vote. Informal mechanisms are ultimately dependent on goodwill, something that cannot always be relied on.

    Proxy votes were a solution to this. They are formal mechanisms that are guaranteed by Parliament rather than parties. They reflect the reality that often, an MPs vote is the same as all other MPs of that party, and other MPs can easily cast it for them. By creating an explicit way MPs can be absent for sustained periods, the stream of individual data is created that preserves visibility on the impact of MPs, without requiring a daily presence in Westminster.

    This system is a good innovation, but it should go further. While circumstances that lead to prolonged absences are explicitly included (and others should be over time), people often need time off work to handle important issues in their lives. Currently, this remains managed through informal pairing approaches. Party managers can give MPs permission to be absent (“slips”), which will then be managed through party channels.

    The problem with this informal approach is another area where it gives parties arbitrary power in one aspect of an MP’s life, that can be used to encourage discipline more widely. In 2022, female Conservative MPs argued there was sexism in when slips were and weren’t allowed – with an example of a slip not being given to a mother needing to take a child to hospital, while feeling male colleagues were easily being given permission to go on holiday. In other cases, permission might be denied to punish internal critics. This is not a healthy system – it works for party management, but not for MPs, and doesn’t work transparently for the rest of the country.

    The solution to this is to manage “slips” through the same proxy vote mechanism. MPs should be given the equivalent of leave through a set number of times they can designate a proxy for the day, no questions asked. This accomplishes a double goal of removing more absences from the parliamentary record, and reducing another arbitrary way parties can hold power over MPs.

    Looking for answers that work for everyone

    We believe that transparency in how MPs vote is important. Through our voting records we want to present straightforward summaries of the impact of MPs in Parliament, that inform our users, and encourage focus on significant decisions made in Parliament. From our point of view, the more complete the data, the easier it is to create summaries that accurately reflect underlying realities without long disclaimers. As such, we’re in favour of both making voting easier and parties publishing the instructions they give MPs, to give the public more complete, and easier to understand, information about voting.

    At the same time, making voting easier improves the quality of life of MPs. Making voting more predictable, and reasonable absences more possible, fit well as part of a package of changes improving parliamentary life.

    While TheyWorkForYou will sometimes make life harder for MPs (and that’s partly the point), in other cases, our frustration at lack of transparency, and MPs’ frustrations at arbitrary and bad working conditions come from the same place: an agreement between party leaderships that power should be centralised. But there are ways of changing that, and we should talk more about it.





    If you'd like to see us extending our work in democracy further, please consider making a contribution.
    Donate now

    Image: Johann Siemens on Unsplash.