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How to use the UK’s parliamentary monitoring site to support your cause

TheyWorkForYou.com is a mySociety website that makes it simple to follow what’s going on in the UK’s parliaments.

If you work for a charity or are running any type of campaign, you’ll find that TheyWorkForYou’s features can be really helpful. They’ll aid you as you research, they’ll keep you informed on key topics, back up your campaign, and can provide data for those who plan to build online tools to support a cause.

Research

See how MPs have voted

Knowledge is power — and if you know which MPs voted for or against your cause, you’ll know exactly who to approach and what to say.

Every MP’s page on TheyWorkForYou contains information on how they voted on key topics such as the environment, welfare and benefits, or social issues.

Give it a go — input your postcode here to see what information TheyWorkForYou has about your MP:

Then click through to the Voting Record tab to see a top-line view of their votes.

TheyWorkForYou where to find the MP voting records

You can also see a list of each vote that has gone to make up these stances, by clicking on the ‘show votes’ button:

where to find topic summaries

This takes you to a ‘topic’ page where you’ll see all the individual votes that each MP has participated in to create their overall stance:

all votes on one topic

Need a wider picture than just one MP’s votes? The ‘show vote’ button takes you to a page for that division, listing all the MPs who voted and whether they were an ‘aye’ or a ‘nay’.

twfy show vote buttons

Topical votes

If you know that the vote you’re looking for happened recently, you can view our recent votes page to access lists of who has voted for or against motions that have arisen in the past few weeks.

Data analysis

Voting data is also available for analysis, although at the moment it is not in a very accessible format and requires some knowledge of coding/parsing. Drop us a line to learn more.

Search for mentions in Parliament of your organisation or its cause

The box at the top of every TheyWorkforYou page will allow you to search the entire site, including the official record of debates, Hansard, as far back as the 1930s.

twfy search box

Our advanced search function allows you to refine results more accurately: further instructions are in our FAQs.

Stay informed

Sign up, and we’ll send you an email each time your chosen word or phrase is spoken in Parliament. This can be extremely useful for campaigners: why not subscribe to a range of keywords and phrases around your cause? Full instructions are here.

You can also opt to receive an alert when debates on your topic are scheduled for the near future: here’s how.

Campaign

Show supporters how any MP has voted. You’ll see Facebook and Twitter buttons at the foot of all our voting sections on an MP’s page, making them very easy to share on social media.

rees mogg

If you’d like to invite your supporters to check how their own MP has voted on one of the key topics we cover, get in touch and we’ll be happy to see if we can help provide you with some code that you can place right on your own website, so your users can input their postcode and go straight to the voting records.

Build

Not only is all the data that you’ll find on TheyWorkForYou open source (meaning that anyone can use it), but it’s also available via APIs. This is great news for anyone building an online campaigning tool.

APIs are a way of querying a database to return information — in this case information on MPs or debates — which you can then display on your own site or app. It’s a powerful way to, for example, show a supporter who their MP is or how they’ve voted, from right within a campaign.

Read more on our APIs for campaigners page.

Why we run TheyWorkForYou

Parliament’s doing a pretty good job of making things accessible, isn’t it? So why do we need an independent site?

Well, in many ways, yes: Parliament is coming up to speed with the digital age. But TheyWorkForYou was launched back at a time when online offerings were a lot more basic — and we still try to stay one step ahead. Read more.

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Photo by Stanley Dai (Unsplash)