Who is watching Parliament?
Blogpost originally published here on 4th September 2019, authored by Ben Worthy.
How well can we monitor what is happening at Westminster? What happens when we do? This project looks at how new data sources and web platforms have made it easier to monitor Parliament and its members. At the touch of a button, we can see an MP or peers’ voting record, browse their declared payments in the register of interests or scroll through their expenses. We can even see if people using parliamentary computers are editing Wikipedia. But what does this all mean for parliament and democracy?
An analysis of users of the website found a tendency for people browsing Westminster data to focus on certain high profile MPs (such as the Prime Minister or leader of the opposition), members connected with controversy or certain high profile debates. Data are used to get a sense of a politician’s position on an issue, as done here with Boris Johnson and Jo Swinson. It can also be used to open up what groups of members are doing-this analysis of Peers register of interests revealed that 1 in 5 members of the House of Lords are advising private business.