So far so good
Somewhat miraculously the parliamentary bureaucracy has now started grinding more effectively. I now have three phones [and two desks] in my (small) office (note to self: the rules permit photographs of the office, one for the blog in the future). I have an ethernet cable into the parliamentary network.
My casework system which works for me as an MP and as a Councillor is still on the City Council network. However, a link has been created between the parliamentary network and the council network which means I can now do casework using the laptop provided by parliament. I am also now training my team in the operation of the casework system and gradually things are getting sorted out. Within 28 days I am told we may even have a printer.
Had I not visited PC world about a month ago and bought a £200 rechargeable injket I would still be waiting to be able to do any casework.
The Parliamentary Network as with many corporate networks is paranoid about security to the extent that they prevent access to standard ports. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is one of the part of TCP/IP which underpins the Internet.
There are a large number of different "ports" all of which have specific functions. For example mail out is on port 25, web (http) is on 80, secure web (https) is on 443, telnet is on 23, ftp is on 21 (and 20).
POP (the Post Office Protocol) is on port 110. This is the port that everyone uses to download their email. (Outlook express etc) The Parliamentary Communications Department don't allow that port to be used. Knowing this and knowing that hell would freeze over before they saw sense I bought a mobile internet "power user" account. This works all over the place on a mixure of G3 and GRPS. The default account allows 50Mb of data per month. June, however, was 100Mb. I wonder what the bill will be.
I am almost at the stage where I can start motoring on some of the campaign issues that I have been working on over the past month. My plan is to identify about 10 issues that I keep chipping away at these include:
- The second runway at BHX and Carbon Emissions (the White paper), getting the White paper reviewed
- Family Tax Credit, getting the HMRC to ask people before taking money off them
- Oil Depletion, getting the government to recognise the problem exists
- Nuisance Calls, (aka Silent Calls) getting Ofcom to act to reduce the numbers and the anxiety caused
- Voting Systems, Electoral Reform and Election Fraud, campaigning against gangster politics
- ID Database, pointing out the technical problems and difficulties - not everyone's iris will scan
- Standards Code, get recognition that it is anti-democratic
- European Issues - campaigning for EDM318
Combined with the work I am doing as Chair of the Birmingham Strategic Parternership
and my regular work (about 2,000 cases a year) as a representative for Yardley. That, I think will keep me particularly busy. I take the view that as a backbench MP it is possible to achieve change as long as you are clear as to what change is needed and more importantly which organisation has to change. Too many politicians stand up and spout off about things in the vain hope that things just might change. Relatively small changes in procedures can have a quite large impact. The changes I am campainging for relating to Silent Calls and Family Credit alone would affect positively the lives of millions of people.
Relatively minor issues like speeding up the signalling at Moor Street Railway station are things I can handle as cases. Other things such as Make Poverty History are issues where I am merely another voice echoing what others are saying. It is entirely valid for me to echo on these matters, but there is a limited amount of time and I need to focus my efforts to achieve results.
I am also trying to make effective use of communications technology (the internet mainly) in doing all of the above. I find it particularly interesting how the readership of this blog ebbs and flows. (The month of June is the peak so far at 3,495 readers) The link above gives access to readership statistics, that does not, however, cover all the readership because of rss links and the like. I find it particularly interesting how the blog appears quite high up on google searches. For example if you search for an image of "startrek" the blog is in position three.
Parliament provides a budget of gross £84,000 for staff. I also have some volunteers assisting in the office in London. Gradually over the summer I am appointing people to various roles. This will enable me to formalise the campaigning strategy as identified above.