Two apparently small – but actually both important and symbolic – campaigns have just been launched to modernise Parliament’s attitude towards the internet.
First – my colleague Jo Swinson who is calling for Parliament to axe its ban on YouTube. The current situation is – MPs can take footage of them in Parliament and put them on their own website, but they can’t put the footage on anything like YouTube.
Well – I think that’s wrong because not only is using YouTube or similar the easiest and best way of putting footage on your own site, but also – we should be putting information about what is going on in Parliament out there in as many different places as possible. It’s not as if our political system is suffering from having too much interest from the public!
You can back Jo’s campaign on Facebook.
Second – the good folks at They Work For You have a campaign to get information about legislation going through Parliament in a more sensible electronic format.
All power to them too – making information about what’s going on in Parliament available in a convenient way for others to then use is just what a Parliament that wants to engage with the public should be all about. And we’ve got the record of sites such as www.theyworkforyou.com to see just how powerful the results can be when information is made available in a sensible format.
The whole way the wording of legislation is handled in Parliament is archaic, and often I feel it’s almost designed to deliberate obscure what is actually going on. The system behaves as if the idea of having a document with track changes in it had never been thought of – so when you get one version of part of a bill replaced with another, you don’t get a marked up copy showing what changes are being proposed, but instead you just get a whole lot of text dumped on you that then has to be checked line by line, word by word to see what’s changed. Daft!
So – do go and back this campaign too and let’s hope this is one more step towards improving Parliament.