Top of the iApps
As an MEP I am more aware than some Westminster politicians of accusations that we are too remote and cut off from our constituencies and constituents. This is unfounded, of course –but convincing the media and the public at large that this is not the case is always a challenge.
European Parliament constituencies, based in 12 regions across the UK, cover a vast area, so communication is always a challenge. It’s therefore important to be on the lookout for new and innovative ways to convey a messagge. The constantly developing technology provides politicians with excellent tools, should we chose to use them.
I launched my blog, the Honeyball Buzz, over four years ago because I wanted to inform people about what I do in the European Parliament and what actually goes on in the much maligned European Union.
However, to be ahead of the game is to be up to speed with new innovations. I have therefore launched an iPhone application so that followers of my blog, constituents, journalists and anyone with more than a passing interest in politics can follow news, views and gossip from the European Parliament and my London constituency.
Political iPhone apps are in abundance, yet they are of varying quality. Most offer directory information, useful addresses and contact details for elected politicians. Of the three main political parties in Britain, Labour is the only one with an app, though the Green Party and UKIP also each have one.
Mary Honeyball’s top politics apps:
Politics Map is a comprehensive guide to the political composition of Great Britain. A key feature of the app is its interactive political map which has details of political control and contact links and also contact details at every level of government including addresses, phone numbers and email. In addition to the interactive and searchable maps the app contains lists of every MP with links to photos, biographies and majority details. It also has full composition and links to every member of the House of Lords, GLA, Scottish and Welsh Parliaments.
Good for: Political enthusiasts, journalists, politics students.
iCampaign is the Labour party’s iPhone app. Of the three main political parties it is the first to offer an app. It has a specific purpose as a campaign tool, encouraging the party faithful to actively participate in local campaigns. The app offers plenty of opportunity to engage in the political process. For example, it allows you to identify a list of events in your area, sign up to them and find real time updates on campaigns and policy.
The Labour Party app is unlike many other political apps where the main purpose is to inform. This app reaches out to its audience and asks it to participate directly in the Labour movement to carry out grass roots activity. Labour Party members can even use it to make calls on behalf of the party using its virtual phone bank.
Good for: The Party faithful and political activists
3. EU Reporter
The EU Reporter is a magazine covering EU news generally and news from the European Parliament. The app allows users to download back issues of the magazine in its entirety to read on their iPhones. The app also has up-to-date news headlines from Europe and both written and video content. Much of the criticism of this app relates to its presentation. Critics say the font size is not only to small but also not adjustable. You have to read it in portrait and it doesn’t contain images, making the sometimes dry subjects a challenge to read.
Good for: Political enthusiasts and politics students
4. My Politics
My Politics is a comprehensive dashboard allowing users to stay informed of British politics through tweets, news events and media. One of the great features of this app is the surveys it regularly carries out. It invites users to Twitter and answer surveys so they are able to share a range of political views.
Good for: politicos, MPs and MEPs, PPCs, journalists and students.
End note: Mary Honeyball is a London MEP. www.thehoneyballbuzz.co.uk