Policy

It’s time for every MP to get digital training, says Doteveyone

By Oliver Smith 25 November 2016
Matt Warman was among the MPs who worked with a digital mentor in the pilot.
Summary

After a successful pilot, Baroness Martha Lane-Fox's organisation wants every MP to get a digital mentor.

If you think you have an email problem? Spare a thought for your humble MP.

The average MP has some 71,000 constituents, of which 5,000 make contact each year and 2,500 need help with a specific problem.

That’s a heck of a lot of email for MPs with an average age of 50, and now with Facebook, Twitter, etc things are only getting worse.

At the same time the laws going through Parliament are among the most technically complicated we’ve ever seen, relating to our digital rights and privacy online.

“At a time when we’ve heard about Hillary Clinton’s email and all the distraction that has caused, we’ve just had the Investigatory Powers Bill passed, we’re in the middle of the Digital Economy Bill going through, it’s really important that technology isn’t seen as an adjunct thing to MPs,” Rachel Coldicutt, CEO of Baroness Martha Lane-Fox’s Doteveryone organisation, told The Memo. 

“They have to understand it’s part of all of our lives now.”

Earlier this year Doteveryone launched a digital mentoring pilot scheme for MPs, to boost digital literacy among this crucial group of Brits and help them to tackle the modern challenges of being an elected representative of the people.

Read more: Martha Lane-Fox has a plan to make our MPs more tech-savvy

Digitally-savvy MPs

Between May and July this year Doteveryone’s four mentors worked with Yvette Cooper MP (Labour), Calum Kerr MP (SNP), Norman Lamb MP (Liberal Democrat) and Matt Warman MP (Conservative), and today that pilot was hailed a success.

The mentoring ranged from advanced email filtering to setting up more secure two-factor authentication, the mentoring was praised by all the MPs and their respective constituency teams.

“Technology has completely changed politics and there’s now real opportunity for MP’s to be more engaged, but only if they’re confident in using these tools, and that’s the biggest thing our mentors had an impact on,” said Coldicutt.

Now Doteveyone is talking to the Parliamentary Digital Service to run another round of MP mentoring next year, and try and figure out how to roll mentoring out across all 650 Members of Parliament.

Sounds like a blooming brilliant idea to us.