Should MPs have to publicly display who pays them?

by @edent | # # | 1 comment | Read ~314 times.

There's a popular meme which resurfaces every so often.

Politicians who have accepted campaign contributions should be required to to wear those "sponsor's" logos names during all official duties and visits to constituents. The size of a logo or name would vary with the size of a donation.

This is often called the Nascar proposal - after the sponsored uniforms that the racing drivers wear. They'd look something like this

Politician with NASCAR style sponsorship

The clever folk at mySociety are looking for new and interesting things to do with their data.

I wondered if the "Nascar" principle could be extended to British Politics.

The UK Parliament maintains a "Register of Members' Financial Interests". It is supposed to list all the outside payments which MPs receive. I've picked the alphabetically first MP - Diane Abbot - to see what she would look like with this rule applied...

Diane Abbott Sponsorship

Now, these images aren't even close to scale - and I lack the graphical skills to make it look awesome. But I think you get the idea.

I've only used the latest entries in the register - some £13,000 worth of external payments - I haven't looked into what she's received previously.

I've talked before about my idea of "KickbackStarter" which would let normal citizens sponsor MPs. Perhaps a first step in clearing up "the next political scandal" is to increase transparency. Filing entries in a register is a small step forward - and one which is increasingly ignored by the less diligent MPs.

With a little bit of Open Data magic and some nifty automated graphical manipulation, it should become increasingly possible for every citizen to see that Boris Johnson's "Chicken Feed" of £250,000 comes from the Barclay Brothers, or that Vince Cable received two large jars of honey from a consulting group.

Would this be enough to clean up politics? I doubt it - but perhaps it would remind people that many MPs don't work exclusively for the electorate, they have external interests which pay very handsomely.

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