UK Politics
October 5, 2008 2:46 PM   Subscribe

How can I get more involved in UK politics?

All the US election furore has really triggered an interest in politics. However, I'm not a USian. So what's the best way for me to get involved in UK politics? I'm not necessarily looking to join/be active for a party - I just want to be more informed and active beyond what I read in the papers etc. on a general level. I might particularly enjoy anything dealing with the intersection of law and politics.
posted by djgh to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could do like I did and volunteer for Liberty. If you're in London (and broadly share their politics) this is really easy to do, especially if you have a background in or interest in law. They operate a helpline for the general public on human rights issues which means they always need intelligent involved people to man the phones. They also have a human rights litigation unit, staffed by four solicitors and an array of volunteers and interns which takes cases on behalf of individuals whose human rights have been infringed, where the litigation is in the public interest.

They are also really nice people. And it's a very small organisation, so if you're involved at all, you are surprisingly close to the top, which is close to the establishment, sort of. For example, after two months there, I was accompanying the wonderful Shami Chakrabati to meetings at Portcullis House (holding a briefcase or something, but still, it was cool!) And they go for pints like regular folk at the end of the day. I had a great time there, and felt like I was doing something good. And I was genuinely involved in politics, for that short time.
posted by tiny crocodile at 4:10 PM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Volunteering for a party is the best way to get involved in the mechanics of politics, and afterwards on a higher level if that's what you're interested in. Failing which, read political blogs - of which there are many excellent UK ones. As a starting point you can't go far wrong with Political Betting - which is very well informed and bi-partisan. My interests are more to the Tory side of things - in which case Guido Fawkes and Conservative Home would be the top of the list. You can find links off these to a lot of other good blogs, from all parties.
posted by prentiz at 4:46 PM on October 5, 2008

Stand for your local council. Either joining a party you agree with beforehand or as an independent. Your chances will depend on where you live, somewhere with a large active party will field plenty of contendors and you might not get a shot straight away, plus of course if you live somewhere where there are very dominant parties whose ideology you don't subscribe to then you don't have much chance of winning. If you live somewhere like me then you have more of a chance. in the last election we had to choose 3 from 2 lib dem, 1 lab and 2 independents, neither of who presented any information. Basdcally the big parties couldn't get enough people to fill the slots.
posted by biffa at 2:14 AM on October 6, 2008

Visit They Work For You.

You can sign up for email updates that will tell you what your MP is debating and voting on. When issues you care about come up, you can follow links to Hansard which will display the debate like a message board with icons of the MPs. (Which can provide some great unintentional comedy when the MP's pic is at odds with their position.)

It's a quick way to see if your MP is representing your interests or sleeping on the job. (And if they are, there's an email form you can use to poke them.)

All of the MySociety websites are a great starting point for becoming more politically involved without leaving your computer.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:22 AM on October 6, 2008

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