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I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help

Pledge “strawman”

"I will write to Jack Straw to tell him he's a cretin but only if 100 other people will do the same."

— James Graham, Concerned Citizen

Deadline to sign up by: 28th July 2006
103 people signed up (3 over target)

Country: United Kingdom

More details
Jack Straw yesterday launched an outspoken attack on, claiming that it is distorting they way MPs conduct their business. See:

This is patent nonsense. MPs are responsible for their own actions. TheyWorkForYou is a valuable contribution to our civil society, allowing us access to debates and MP's questions in a useable format that Parliament itself has been unwilling to provide itself.

What I'm asking people to do is to write to Jack Straw to (politely) tell him he's tilting at the wrong windmill here, and to insist that he takes part in the consultation exercise that theyworkforyou have already initiated on how to improve the way they measure MPs work. In particular, call for him to attend their public meeting on 7 November to discuss precisely this issue, rather than making potshots from his position of safety behind the despatch box.

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  • What Jack Straw said is at:
  • I feel a bit bad about calling Jack Straw a cretin in the text of the pledge. What he said about theyworkforyou was certainly stupid, but now I'm anxious that people are going to write him abusive messages, which wasn't my intent at all.

    So if you do sign the pledge and write him a letter please be constructive!

    On the positive side, I'm delighted so many people have signed up so far - keep them coming!
  • With pleasure...
  • While I will of course write a constructive thing to Jack using paper and (printer) ink, have you tried to find a direct email link to our esteemed leader of the House?
    There's a fine puff piece on but no damn link. Cowardly, I think.
    scotch, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • ammendment: it's here -
    nice and easy to get eh?
    scotch, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Count me in.
  • I am very glad to join my esteemed co-signatories. Anything Guido, Justin and Tim will sign up to must be a good idea!
  • If everyone on this list tries to get a friend to sign up by midnight today, we can do this. Remember if they don't have web access, they can text PLEDGE STRAWMAN to 60022. Good luck!
    Steve, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Have you noticed how the government ignore please from hospitals and the education service when they complain about their targets, and how it distorts their work. But as soon as someone tries to measure the elected government, they start bleating! So here's a taste of your own medicine Mr Straw, don't like it do you? But as an elected MP and a Government minister, you are supposed to serve us. Therefore we are entitled to know truthful facts and figures about who we the people elect, above all others!
    Steve, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Some contact details for:

    Rt Hon Jack Straw MP,
    Leader of the House of Commons


    Nigel Griffiths MP
    Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

    Commons Leader website contact page:

    "If you have any reason to contact the Leader of the House or his Deputy, please write to them at:

    2 Carlton Gardens
    SW1Y 5AA

    Or if you wish, contact us by:

    020 7210 1025

    020 7210 1075


    For all media enquires please contact 020 7210 1092 in the first instance."
  • Sent on 29 July, and copied to my MP:

    Dear Mr Straw

    In voicing your understandable concern about Government departments being overloaded by questions from researchers, you criticised "these websites called TheyWorkForYou which simply seem to measure MPs' work by quantitative rather than qualitative measures".

    This criticism is misplaced. The TheyWorkForYou site includes the following caveat:

    "we realise that data such as the number of debates spoken in means little in terms of an MP's actual performance. MPs do lots of useful things which we don't count yet, and some which we never could. Even when we do, a count doesn't measure the quality of an MPs contribution. ... Our advice — when you're judging your MP, read some of their speeches, check out their website, even go to a local meeting and ask them a question. Use TheyWorkForYou as a gateway, rather than a simple place to find a number measuring competence."

    I would also suggest that, in a representative democracy with a Freedom of Information Act, if Government departments are unequal to the task of providing answers to the questions asked by members of the public, the problem lies with the departments rather than with "researchers trying to prove a point".

    Regards, etc.
  • I have today received a letter dated 18th August from Jack Straw in response to my polite email of 29th July.

    Not sure if this is a standard reply or not, so I am a bit reluctant to publish it online in full - email me if you have also received one and we can compare notes.

    Essentially he blames "external websites" for the increase in Questions , and gives statistcs on the current and future estimates of the numbers of Questions etc.

    He claims cross-party support for "Something To Be Done", and hints that A Parliamentary Committee may be looking into this subject in the future.

    He does not propose any mechanisms for sanctions against Researchers or MPs who are abusing the system e.g. by publishing the names of Researchers who table each question.

    He refers to Peter Duff MP's adjournment debate on 28th June:

    and to an article published by the in the Hansard Society:

    The House Magazine
    July 10, 2006
    Issue No.1183 | Vol.31

    A fantasy league?
    Websites that give the public statistics on MPs' activities are misleading, says Gemma Rosenblatt of the Hansard Society
    {registration required)

    "Since then, and following the remarks I made at Business Questions, I am pleased to note that the website TheyWorkForYou has responded to the criticisms outlined above by modifying the way it processes and presents data."

    There is no hint that the Leader of the House intends to consult with the MySociety people about how things could be improved for the public.
  • This pledge has only got more relevant with time...
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Current signatories (Green text = they've done it)

James Graham, the Pledge Creator, joined by:

  • John Angliss
  • Alex Hilton
  • Guido Fawkes
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  • Bernie Hughes
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  • Stephen Glenn
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  • Dave Lambert
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  • Mat Bowles
  • Duncan Stephen
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  • scotch
  • Loz Pycock
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