The RSS will be holding a number of statistical literacy workshops in Parliament following the election, to which MPs will be invited. It wants to persuade as many politicians as possible to commit to coming along if they are elected.
The Society has created an online tool making it easy for anyone email their local candidate. By entering their postcode into the box at the bottom of the page, the tool helps UK citizens send an automatically-generated email, titled 'Will you be a statistically aware MP?' to all of their prospective parliamentary candidates.
The text of the email (which users can amend before sending if they wish), reads as follows:
I want my MP to put evidence and statistics at the heart of policy debate. The decisions politicians make should be based on what really works, using robust and relevant data to inform the choices they make in important policy areas.
To ensure this is the case, MPs and other senior policymakers should be given basic training in data handling and statistics. This would provide the knowledge they need to make good decisions for the people they represent, and help avoid costly miscalculations.
After the General Election, the Royal Statistical Society will be running a series of short statistics workshops for MPs in Westminster. The aim is to ensure all MPs make the most of local and national statistics, which are part of the day-to-day work of parliamentarians. The workshops will be entry-level, giving MPs extra confidence when dealing with complex data, as well as pointing out the common mistakes people make when analysing statistics and chance.
Will you give me a commitment that, if you are elected as my local MP on 7 May, you will attend a short statistics workshop in Parliament?
Please do make this commitment to statistical awareness by agreeing to attend a statistics workshop if you are elected. I would be grateful if you could reply to let me know if you will commit to this. The Royal Statistical Society will be in touch with MPs after the election to arrange a suitable timeslot for the workshop.
“The RSS has been actively campaigning on the issues laid out in our Data Manifesto, including meeting with MPs and writing to party leaders about specific issues,' said Jenny Freeman, RSS vice president for external affairs. 'Now our new election campaign tool gives the opportunity for members and supporters to be actively involved in getting our message across to current and prospective MPs.
'We need as many messages as possible to be sent before May 7, to raise the volume about statistical literacy and obtain personal commitments from candidates that they will be statistically aware if they are elected to Parliament.'
All members (and non-members) are encouraged to help raise awareness of the campaign by circulating in their networks and through social media using the Twitter hashtag #ParliamentCounts.
Further details are on the RSS website at www.rss.org.uk/lobby.