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Keith Halstead and Tim Hood

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You ask: MPs answer on budget cuts and climate change [Dec. 22nd, 2010|03:38 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood

This week Yoosk has two panels of MPs and experts answering the public's questions. Please go to the link to put your question.

The first is a Q and A panel on energy and climate change: http://www.yoosk.com/theme-detail/419.aspx

With energy prices becoming as great a problem as the impact on our planet, and the spotlight increasingly turning on what energy companies can do to reduce the financial burden on individuals, we have assembled a cross party panel of three MPs to answer your questions on the debate.

John Robertson (Labour) and Laura Sandys (Conservative) are both members of the Energy and Climate Change select committee. Meanwhile Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Malcolm Bruce, knows many of the issues first hand as his constituency of Gordon has geographic links to Britain's North Sea energy sources.

The second is a Q and A on reaction to the cuts: http://www.yoosk.com/theme-detail/420.aspx

We have three Treasury Select Committee members who between them share a vast amount of budgetary expertise coupled with their own opinions on the Comprehensive Spending Review shaped, at least in part, by the parties they represent.

Select Committee Chairman and Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie will join Labour MP Andy Love and Lib Dem John Thurso on the panel and will answers any of your questions relating to the budget and the immediate future for the Treasury in 2011.
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Tower Block of Commons [Feb. 16th, 2010|03:45 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood
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Channel Four's Tower Block of Commons is well under way and, a bit like watching a pensioner with a zimmerframe trying to cross the M1, it makes compelling viewing.

1.85m people tuned in last week to watch the carnage and twitter #tboc was buzzing last night with their latest antics.

 I (like most people probably) started off wanting to see these MPs being given a hard time but now, because of the stick they have taken and the awkward situations in which they have been placed, I'm beginning to soften towards them a little. Its a bit like Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time - I tuned in hoping to see him humiliated but because of the way he was ganged up on and bullied, I actually ended up feeling some sympathy for him. Its the British fondness for the underdog I guess.

Following the final episode next week, three of the participants - Mark Oaten, Tim Loughton and Austin Mitchell - have agreed to answer questions about their 'Tower Block' experiences on our Yoosk website. If you have a question you would like to ask, follow this link:


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Foreign Office inviting you to pose questions to David Miliband. [Jan. 16th, 2010|10:27 am]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood

In the run up to the London Conference about Afghanistan on the 28th of January, the Foreign Office is inviting you to post your questions about UK foreign policy regarding Afghanistan on their website.

Anybody is free to post a question and The Foreign Office are using the Yoosk platform as a means of gathering the questions. If you don't have a specific question you would like to ask, you can just browse the things other people have been asking and add your support by voting for the best questions.

The top-rated questions as I write is this one sent in by 'English':

'Why don't we buy the opium instead of burning it? There is a world shortage of medical opium. Buying it from Afghan farmer would establish good relations rather than the opposite caused by current strategy of torching the only crop that grows really well there. Also ex O farmers go and join taliban. Plus illegal trade also funds taliban.'

David Miliband will be answering some of the most popular questions next week, so please help us to ensure that the best questions get answered by visiting the site and voting.

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Voting begins in 'Britain's Best MP' Campaign. [Dec. 21st, 2009|12:13 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood
Our Poll for 'Best MP' is 'live' on Yoosk and votes are coming in (Chris Mullin is in the lead as I write).

For those of you who haven't seen our earlier posts, I'll quickly re-cap what we are doing. In an effort to remind ourselves that not all MPs are tarred with the same brush as the 'expenses cheats' we began our campaign to find 'Britain's Best MP'. We asked our users to nominate their choices and then submit questions they would like to ask the nominees - the idea being that after viewing the answers to the top-voted questions our users would then make their final vote for the candidate of their choice.

The nominated MPs were: Douglas Carswell, Lynne Featherstone, Tom Harris, David Howarth, Chris Mullin, Bob Russell, Gisela Stuart and Jo Swinson.

All 8 nominated MPs answered our top five questions and you can view their answers on our home page. Our top rated question was from 'artichelper':

'What do you believe is the best change in policy that you, yourself played a significant role in making that change happen? You can see the answers below.'

In addition to focusing on the positive side of politics, one of our aims at Yoosk is to make our politicians more accessible and democracy more interesting and we think that with this exercise we have helped in a small way to do this. The questions we put to the MPs were the ones chosen by our users and by asking the MPs to keep their answers short, we have been able to publish them in an easily viewable format. The result is an interesting range of answers across the political spectrum to some very good questions.

To view all the questions and answers and to vote in our campaign, please visit our website - Yoosk.

If you have any comments or feedback for us, we'd love to hear from you - you can leave comments here or on our website 'contact us' page.
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Harnessing the wisdom of the crowd. [Dec. 12th, 2009|06:22 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood

The premise behind our website Yoosk is that people want to ask questions of those in power and we have a better chance of getting answers if we can find a way of deciding which are the best questions. This is why we employ a voting system – so that the ‘best’ questions will rise to the top.

Very often, when we approach MPs with our questions, the voting system is not needed - because there may not be so many, and the MPs are happy to answer all of them.

Occasionally though, it is useful, as on this occasion when 29 questions from Jordanian citizens were submitted to David Miliband who had agreed to answer only five.

With just 3 days to go before we start filming answers from the nominees in our Best MP campaign, we have 18 questions on the site. Only the top five will be put to the candidates, and the wisdom of the crowd will again play a part.

The current top question is from xpressurself:

‘Which is most important for you, your party or your constituency?’

A question which could elicit a one-word answer, but somehow I don’t think it will. Some questions which are not in the top five are:

‘How do you think UK democracy could be improved?’ from wastenotwant

‘What is the best/worst aspect of law making in parliament and why? from lawgeek

If you would like to see the other questions, and help us ensure that our nominated MPs don’t have too easy a time, visit yoosk (anybody can vote, you don’t need to register).

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What makes a 'good' MP? [Dec. 5th, 2009|10:09 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood
The 'Britain's Best MP' competition is moving into its second stage and we have the final nominations. Now we want you to post your questions to find out who has the qualities you most value in an MP.

We will be gathering questions until the 13th of December and the top 5 rated questions will be put to each of the nominated MPs.

As before, you can add your question as a comment on this blog post, here on our website or via twitter at #bestMP. If you just want to see what questions are being asked and to vote for those which you think are the best, go here.

As soon as we have the top 5 questions, we will approach the nominees for answers, film them and add the video clips to our website and on our YouTube channel. What we intend to do is to edit together 5 video clips - one for each question, which contain the answers of all the nominees - you will be able to compare the answers, make your choice on who gives the best ones and then vote for your 'Best MP' via an online poll.

The MPs who have so far agreed to take part are, Gisela Stuart, Chris Mullin, Bob Russell, Douglas Carswell, Lynne Featrherstone, Tom Harris and Jo swinson.

'Ah but..' I hear you say, 'there are many good MPs not on your list.' And you would of course, be correct. We are not claiming that this is the definitive list of the best MPs in Britain, but they are the ones who YOU nominated and we can begin an interesting dialogue with them about the values and qualities of a 'good MP', and we hope that you will join in and help us to do that.
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'Best MP' Nominations are in [Dec. 4th, 2009|02:02 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood
The 'Britain's Best MP' competition on yoosk is moving into its second stage now and we have your final nominations.

Gisela Stuart (Lab)
Chris Mullin (Lab)
Lynne Featherstone (LibDem)
David Howarth (LibDem)
Bob Russell (LibDem)
Douglas Carswell (Con)
Tom Harris (Lab)
Jo Swinson (Lib Dem)

We are contacting these MPs and inviting them to take part in the competition. Once we have their agreement, we will be inviting you to put your questions to them.

Once we have your questions and the MPs answers up on the site, it will be your chance to make your decision...who is 'Britain's Best MP'?
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MPs R Us: visiting Parliament reveals a very human mix of personalities and behaviours [Nov. 26th, 2009|11:05 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood
We’ve seen the headlines, read the comment threads, heard the conversations in the pubs and over the dinner table: MPs are not like us, they are not good people.

A quick Google search for the phrase ‘MPs are Scum’ gives 137,000 results.

A similar search using the word ‘Vermin’ returns 40,900, the C-word gets 25,000 and ‘MPs are Bastards’ tops them all with 183,000. Admittedly, sometimes it is the odd MP calling other people scum but most of the time the abuse is aimed firmly their way.

Here’s one that stands out: http://raedwald.blogspot.com/2009/05/lets-trash-these-troughing-scum.html

“These MPs are scum. They are thieves. Their avarice, their grasping mendacious filthy peculation of public funds, their troughing porcine deception, their self-serving self-righteous....”

There’s more but you get the picture.

Intrigued, as we all are by evil and nastiness, this week I ventured into the Commons to meet five of these ‘troughing scum’ and here’s what I found:

-An MP who was obviously so tired he was struggling to keep his eyes open but who still managed to chair a meeting and to ask some intelligent questions .

-A genuinely warm and open young MP who was quieter than usual and who seemed pre-occupied at the meeting. She later tweeted that she was ‘ a bit miffed at being dropped from the BBC Question Time panel at 48hrs notice-because of the Iraq enquiry’. I’d be disappointed too.

-An MP who talked about locking himself in his house and drawing the curtains in the face of a barrage of press attention, and of the effects of all this on his family. This MP is very respected by a great many entrepreneurs and innovators for his willingness to listen to their problems.

-A down to earth and deeply committed woman who breaks all the stereotypes of how a typical MP looks, talks and behaves. If it wasn’t for all women shortlists, she almost certainly wouldn’t even be an MP.

-An ‘old school’ MP who is incredibly knowledgeable about China and Vietnam and who clearly wants to see the UK act as a force for good in those countries. What struck me was that he didn’t have a computer anywhere in his office , so no fancy gadgetry for him on expenses.

All these people were very different in personality, behaviour and politics but they all seemed to share a commitment to serving the public and their country. They have one other thing in common: they are not scum.

Are most of MPs flawed? Certainly. But then, aren’t we all? Help us find Britain’s best MP by interviewing them with your questions- find out how by clicking here.
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Re: Yoosk: Britain's Best MP Campaign [Nov. 24th, 2009|10:24 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood
A few days into our 'Britain's Best MP' campaign and nominations are coming in. Here are the current Top5:

Gisela Stuart (Lab)"....For continuing to work hard for her constituents even though the odds are against her winning again.."

Chris Mullin (Lab) "....for sharing his knowledge of how politics really works through great fiction and autobiography and for only having a black and white telly."

David Howarth (LibDem) "...he has been a principled and honest MP, who has always stood up for the rights of not just his constituents but everyone in Britain....."

Lynne Featherstone (LibDem) "..for being one of the 'saints' in the expenses scandal, for her intolerance of bureaucratic buck-passing and for her real empathy for the socially deprived in Haringey."

Douglas Carswell (Con) "..,one of the few MP's to consistently call for reform of parliament and criticise the concept of 'safe seats' - and all this well before the current expenses scandal."

To add your nomination or to cast your vote, visit the yoosk website or tweet your nomination at #bestMP. Nominations close on the 27th November.
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Help us in the search for Britain's best MP [Nov. 20th, 2009|05:12 pm]
Keith Halstead and Tim Hood

‘UK Politics is broken’ is the all too common refrain we hear from the media. ‘Something must be done.’ Very often though, that ‘something’ is to sit back and highlight the negative rather than focus on the positive and the best way to ‘fix’ things.

Have some MPs abused the expenses system? Yes. Are all MPs bad? No. Many are hard working people, trying to do their best for their constituents.

We at Yoosk want everyone interested in politics to help us find the MP's who are the best examples of what a good MP is and does.. Then, in conjunction with The Independent newspaper we are going to interview them and find out what makes them tick. What are the experiences that shaped them, what values drive them, how do they behave and what makes them different?

Here's what we want you to do and how it will work:

1. Send us your nomination and a brief reason why you have nominated this person by clicking here or you can twit your nomination to #bestMP or add your nomination in a comment at the end of this post. Or you can just visit the site to see who has been nominated and add your vote.

2. Nominations close on the 27th November.

3. You will then have an opportunity to question the top 10 nominated MP's. Yoosk and the Independent will get the answers and publish them here and on Yoosk. You will have the opportunity to rate answers and the MP's performance via the yoosk website..

4. The winning MP will be the person who finishes at the top of the Yoosk Performance League Table which you can see on the top right of the Yoosk Home page on the closing day 17th December.

We are not looking for what makes a good party leader or how politicians rise to the top of factions or cliques. We think those are different qualities. We are looking for your ideas on the MP's who really stand out as strong, independent and principled voices, who can act with a degree of selflessness and who in doing so, show us a better way.

Yoosk offers a very open forum where both question and answer have a dynamic and an immediacy. ....... and I believe it is important (particularly in these times when we politicians are somewhat unloved) to be out there to show everyone that we do care and care passionately - which is the reason that I am sure we all got into politics in the first place!'
Lynne Featherstone MP

Why are we doing this?

When it comes to politics and the connections we the public have with the MP's and Councillors who represent us, Yoosk is very much about individuals rather than parties. We like Lynne Featherstone (LibDem), Deirdre Alden (Conservative prospective parliamnetary candidate) and David miliband (Labour) because of what we have personally witnessed: an obvious commitment to listening and engaging with the people they represent.

We want to do our part in making sure we get the best individuals in the next Parliament, irrespective of which party forms a government.
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