By Tom Caygill
Last year I was one of the lucky two applicants to be offered one of the PSA/House of Commons Committee Office placements. The placement was a great opportunity: to utilise the skills I use in my PhD in a different context, while developing new ones; to better understand the ethos of select committees; and to discuss my doctoral research with parliamentary staff, which has gone on to help shape my final research design.
By Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Viktoria Spaiser
Hashtag conversations over Twitter are common place. They are used to comment on TV programmes, conferences, general themes and now petitions. The new Petitions Committee of the House of Commons has been using hashtags to support the development of discussions associated with the themes of the petitions being debated in parliament. Are these discussions on Twitter just a lot of hot air, come and gone, or can they help us understand the different purposes of petitioning? In this blog piece, we find that, instead of just noise, these Twitter discussions help to identify themes linked to petitions, different levels of sentiment associated to petitions, varying levels of polarisation, but also those petitions that despite achieving very high numbers of signatures, actually have little traction.
By Cristina Leston-Bandeira
Remember the week of the cash-for-access scandal? It was the same week as the infamous interview with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and the Labour party’s announcement of its policy on university fees. No doubt you remember these. This was also the week when the House of Commons passed a motion to set up a Petitions Committee. Remember that? No, didn’t think so. It is no surprise that in the midst of it all, little notice was given to a motion creating a new Committee. This may seem a small decision of little consequence for wider party politics, however it does signal an important moment in the UK parliament. As was said in the debate: “if we, as Parliament, got this right, it would be the most significant reform since the setting up of Select Committees in 1979”. Continue reading