Members of parliament 30.03.15

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MP 1

In the lead up to the UK general election, Manchester-based design studio Instruct asks whether public faith in our political masters can be restored with open data and accessible design

As we hurtle towards the UK general election, all the main political parties are firing shots at each other, personalities are thrown into the spotlight and the proverbial mud is slung – attacks on individuals involving cheap point-scoring have become the norm in place of solid policies. Perhaps not coincidentally, there has never been a time when the general public has been so disillusioned with politics.

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The rise of (or media hype surrounding) right-wing parties such as UKIP has created caricature politicians akin to those in a sketch show, but these people are real and, worryingly, might one day be in charge. Media scrutiny has focused on issues such as expenses – excesses and loopholes are exposed and the public pores over tabloid sensations. All of this takes the focus away from those MPs who strive hard for their constituents and creates distrust around their day-to-day work.

But do we really know what this day-to-day work is? Do we know who our MPs are? Are they acting in our best interests? We set out to bring a level of transparency to politicians' working lives using data that already exists, yet which can be hard to decipher in its current form. Open data is much championed by the current government, but delivery can be tailored to particular agendas.

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The file system allows results to be filtered across a number of categories

Our idea is simple: show an equal, fair and balanced record of each MP's year, but in an open, accessible and neutral way. We call this "The Record". Each year, a personal annual report would be published using available data from sources such as This report would give a comprehensive insight into the people you vote for.

The platform has been designed to feel official yet accessible in the way it delivers infographics, using large type and a file system for navigation. You can access personalised information to build up an image of your MP, from comments on national and local issues, to official information gathered from parliament, including those points raised and voted on. Everything is searchable, shareable and accessible.

With this level of transparency on a digital platform, a higher level of engagement with, debate around and understanding of MPs' roles could be achieved.

Kitchen politics: The furore over Ed Miliband's made clear that the kitchen is now the principal representational space of the house, wrote Edwin Heathcote in March


Words and images



Above and left: "The Record" builds a comprehensive profile of each MP, using parliamentary records and other open sources

quotes story

Do we know who our MPs are? Do we really know what their day-to-day work is? 

MP 2

The data is presented in an engaging way using large type and infographics

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