So, as many of you will have read, Ian Liddell-Grainger MP was caught sending messages to himself via WriteToThem. We spotted this and disqualified him from appearing in our league table of MP responsiveness.
Sadly, this has lead to a certain amount of disagreement with his office, most recently via a BBC Radio Bristol interview. I’m just posting some further information to deal with specific claims made.
1. Mr Liddell Grainger and his assistant have both admitted that they did send messages to themselves. Thanks to their frankness, we know they were sending them not just in 2005 (as we knew) but also whilst FaxYourMP was still the site in 2004.
2. They claim that they were conducting an experiment. Quoted on the BBC the said:
“We e-mailed ourselves and on one e-mail our rating went up by 10%, at which point we deduced it was only a very small website.” The e-mails had been an “experiment” to prove this, he added.”
This leads to two central questions:
i If one email sent in 2004 was enough to ‘prove’ this point, why send 5 more in 2005?
ii Why abuse the system to discover how many messages were being sent when all that data was in the league table anyway?
Furthermore, at no point during 2005 (the launch year for WriteToThem.com) was there a realtime league table that changed when you sent a single message.
3. In the BBC Radio Bristol interview Mr Liddell-Grainger’s assitant revealed that our faxes had been going to ‘a fax machine downstairs’ which belonged to someone else. This would seem to be more of an embarrasing problem for WriteToThem if we didn’t know that:
i) the fax number in question is published on the Conservative party website as the fax number of the Bridgwater Conservative party, Mr Liddell-Grainger’s constituency. He shares it with an MEP – perhaps ‘the man downstairs?’
ii) 30 out of 34 of Mr Liddell-Graingers real constituents who replied to the survey confirmed that they got responses in a timely fashion. So we know for sure that nearly all messages were getting through successfully.
So there’s the final irony of this situation. If Mr Liddell-Grainger and his office had not sent themselves messages, they’d have got quite a good responsiveness rating.
EDIT: Just to confirm, I, Tom Steinberg, never told Mr Liddell-Grainger to send messages to himself. If I had, we would surely never have recieved an email from him that said this.