Tag Archives: parliament

The erosion of civil liberties and the legitimacy of Parliament

*sigh*

I’ve moved from angry to depressed. Here’s my letter to my MP, Michael Fabricant, about the Data Rentention and General Bullshit Bill (DRIP);

Michael,

There’s probably no point in even bothering, given you are highly unlikely to rebel against your party (which, by the way, says something about our “representative democracy”, don’t you think?) but I can’t let this one pass.

After trying it with the slave labour Workfare scheme your party in Government is trying to legalise something that has been found illegal. The new Data Retention & Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) has no legal basis, being as it seeks to legalise an existing practice that has already been ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice.

Not only that but the way in which this bill has been concocted and is being pushed through questions the very legitimacy of Parliament itself.

It is a fundamental principle of our parliamentary democracy that bills are presented to the House of Commons and scrutinised in depth by our elected representatives. We put faith in you do to this. No such process is taking place with this bill, which has been cobbled together in a secret cabal of all three major parties. MPs, such as yourself, have very little time to look at the bill.

We have been told that no new powers are being introduced. If this were true that does still not make the bill any more necessary or legal, given the legality of the practice it legislates on. However, initial analysis of the bill shows that it does contain new, wider powers.

We’re told this is a temporary measure, but as the last Labour government demonstrated this is meaningless. Hindsight tells us to expect these powers to remain permanently. Parliament’s record on this is there for all to see.

So I implore, no, I demand, you vote against this legislation in the interests of promoting a liberal country free of unwarranted mass surveillance already deemed illegal. Were you to vote for this legislation (or cowardly abstain as I fear many will) you will be complicit in the continued erosion of our civil liberties that will further damage the legitimacy of Parliament. Parliament is already woefully unrepresentative and citizens are engaging more with campaign groups than they are political parties such as yours. This is just one battle in the ongoing war for a politics that serves the people, not narrow interests.

Yours expectantly,

Philip John

Irony escapes Tim Farron. Again. And again. And again.

Commenting on the Conservatives’ decision to drop a manifesto and coalition agreement promise, Illiberal Liberal Democrat president, Tim Farron, said, “It sends a message to the electorate that ‘we don’t trust you. We think you might do things which we don’t like’

Perhaps, Tim, you might sit your  parliamentary party down and beat then round the head with those words repeatedly until they fully understand the meanings of ‘promise’ and ‘trust’.

Worth doing it soon given that you just lost another deposit.

4 years and 2 months later… TheyWorkForYou plugin gets an update

Shocking it’s been so long really, but I’ve finally revived my TheyWorkForYou WordPress plugin.

When I first released it, all the plugin did was supply a TheyWorkForYou widget. Nothing’s changed! That’s for good reason though… At the time, the latest version of WordPress was 2.8.6 and we’re now on 3.8.1 so a lot has changed!

Crucially, the way plugin developers add widgets has changed so that needed to be updated.

Also of huge importance was that the original plugin hard-coded my own TheyWorkForYou API key and was a key reason why the plugin never made it to the WordPress.org plugin repository. There is now a simple settings page for you to enter your own API key, and the widget isn’t even available to you until you do that.

I have a bunch of other enhancements I want to add, all of which are listed on the GitHub issues page for the plugin. If there’s something you’d like to see in the plugin, please add it there too.

Given the amount of functions provided by the TheyWorkForYou API there are probably loads more things the plugin could do – please think of them and ask me to add them. Or, even better, fork and pull on GitHub and to add them yourself.

Finally, to use the plugin you can;

  1. Go to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard, search for TheyWorkForYou and install
  2. Download from the WordPress.org plugin repository and install manually

One important note: if you are using the original plugin, you’ll need to remove that first.

Enjoy!

Appeal Court declines to rule on right-to-die cases

The courts once again let the public down on right to die, saying the matter should be decided by Parliament. Of course, with Parliament including a bunch of unelected peers who can’t even manage to drag themselves out of the 18th century over equal marriage, it’s completely ridiculous to throw this issue, clearly supported by the public, back to the unrepresentative legislature.

Read Appeal Court declines to rule on right-to-die cases

TheyWorkForYou.com WordPress plugin

As part of some work for Talk About Local I have just developed a WordPress plugin using the TheyWorkForYou.com API.

For this first version the plugin creates a single widget which shows the latest activity for your MP. I hope to add more in the future and if you have any suggestions, please add them to the comments below.

I made a demo video and wrote instructions on how to set the plugin up which have been posted over on the Talk About Local blog, as well as instructions on installing the plugin.

All that’s left to do now is download the plugin (ZIP).

Make Parliamentary Scrutiny More Accessible

The Free Our Bills campaign from mySociety is today encouraging supporters to ask their MPs to sign Early Day Motion (EDM) 2141.

The campaign aims to get Parliament to publish bills in a much better way which will allow software developers to come up with new and innovative ways to present bills to the public and build tools around them.

It’s another project from mySociety, a non-profit organisation, organised by volunteers who aim to “build websites that give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives” and to “teach the public and voluntary sectors … how to use the internet most efficiently to improve lives.”

They are the creators of many popular democracy web sites including WriteToThem, TheyWorkForYou and the No. 10 Downing Street Petitions web site.

The EDM asks the House of Commons to acknowledge the need for this change and the need to work with mySociety to get it done.

If you would like to see more parlimentary scrutiny then please write to your MP and ask them to sign the EDM.