This latest update doesn’t look like much, but there’s a lot going on under the surface. As a result, the website should work a lot faster now than it has been, especially when opening new pages and making new searches on the front page.
The most substantial change is the creation of a Party Funding Overview page. This is primarily for looking up the quarter political party funding data, which the Electoral Commission publishes every few months (the next one should be out in a few weeks). My page now provides the same information as the Electoral Commission’s own quarterly reports, with the exception of the loans data which I haven’t incorporated yet.
Building this page has proven to be a surprisingly frustrating process, but I’ve learned a lot both about how not to design a website and the donations data. One of the quirks that sharp eyed people will notice is that my list of “late” registered donations is somewhat different from the Electoral Commission’s report. I’ve double checked all this, and both my data is accurate and my tool is working properly. What seems to be happening is that the Commission defines a late declaration in its reports differently to how it is defined in the law.
So, for example, the Scottish National Party have a habit of registering donations a day after the deadline (which is 30 days after the end of each quarter). The Electoral Commission does not mention this in its report. It isn’t a big deal and subsequently I’ve defined donations that are only a little bit late as simply “missed deadline”.
However, quite substantial donations are also being skipped. For example, the Green Party declared 4 donations more than six months late totalling over £9,000 in the last quarter. Why this wasn’t flagged by the Electoral Commission when 2 much less late donations made to UKIP were is not immediately clear to me. I’m not suggesting any kind of party bias – I can’t detect any kind of pattern at all – just that I’m curious if they have a different definition that I haven’t understood.
Looking at the late donations has also flagged up a worrying trend which I hope to blog about in more detail later.
Anyway, now this is out of the way, I hope to get back to adding more tools for adding user-generated content. Watch this space.