How responsive is your MP?

Image by Barry (Ennor)

We’ve just published the WriteToThem responsiveness league table for 2013. Check your MP’s performance here – just enter your postcode.

League table? What’s that?

Our website allows anyone to send a message to their elected representatives.

If you’ve ever done this, you’ll know that two weeks later, we email you to ask whether or not your representative replied.

The information we obtain from this questionnaire is important to us: it helps us check that WriteToThem remains an effective way to contact politicians. But, when it’s analysed further, there are interesting results to be found.

WriteToThem launched in 2005. Until 2008, we published an annual ‘league table’, ranking MPs by responsiveness. We did this because we believe that it is a fundamental part of an MP’s duty to respond to their constituents’ messages; we wanted to recognise the best performers, and highlight the ones who were falling below expectations.

We haven’t run this data since 2008 – mainly because we’re a very busy organisation with a wide range of priorities.

But our users frequently ask for the latest stats, and to that end we’ve now run the 2013 data. Take a look at it here.

A big WriteToThem gold star to some MPs

The people of Romsey and Southampton North should rest easy. Their Conservative MP Caroline Nokes is on the case. Top of our league table, she replied to 96% of messages sent through WriteToThem.

Other good performers include Conservatives John Glen MP for Salisbury, and Justin Tomlinson representing North Swindon. Gloria De Piero, Labour MP for Ashfield, comes in at 4th position. Check your MP’s performance here.

And ‘could do better, see me’ to others

Mansfield residents may feel like nobody’s listening; their representative Alan Meale (Labour) comes bottom of the rankings, having replied to a sole message in 2013.

Other low responders were Khalid Mahmood (Labour), representing Birmingham Perry Barr; Kenneth Clarke (Conservative) for Rushcliffe; and Tom Blenkinsop (Labour) in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. Check your MP’s performance here.

Not just MPs

WriteToThem isn’t just for contacting your MP. You can also use it to write to Lords, councillors, MEPs and members of the assemblies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Running this data also allows us to make broad comparisons across all of these bodies – see our figures here.

The Welsh Assembly comes out looking fairly respectable, with a 70% response rate, while the House of Lords (who, it must be noted, do not have an obligation to respond to correspondence) slink in at 27%.

We’ve also sliced the data so you can see which political parties perform best and worst overall. Guess who comes top?

Data and methodology

  • Our figures are based on our follow-up questionnaire, and of course, not all users respond to it. This data is based on 58,573 responses; you can see more about the data below.
  • Letters sent via WriteToThem represent less than 1% of the entire parliamentary postbag, so this has to be taken as a sample rather than giving the full picture across the board.
  • WriteToThem is not the only way that people can contact their representatives. For all we know, those poor performers may be responding perfectly adequately to messages sent by other channels – although we do make it as simple as we can for them to reply to WriteToThem users, and it’s our belief that the channel of communication should not make any difference.

We know, too, that some messages don’t require an answer. We would not expect to see a 100% response rate, and, by the way, we are considering altering our questionnaire so that it includes the option “I didn’t get a reply, but my message didn’t need one”.

  • It’s also important to note that this league table is not a ‘laziness’ ranking. MPs do many other things besides reply to their constituents’ letters. Poor responders may be incredibly active in their constituency, or in Westminster debates. So it’s what it says it is – a responsiveness league table, no more, no less.
  • WriteToThem sent 96,396 messages to MPs in the year 2013 and 103,965 to other elected representatives.
  • 58,573 people answered our feedback survey about communicating with their MP.

The survey asked whether people had had a reply (not just an acknowledgement) from their representative.

People were surveyed initially after 2 weeks, and if they didn’t answer, were surveyed again after 3 weeks.

Because of this, and because of the way different people interpret the survey, you should interpret the figures with some caution.

We did not include any MP who received fewer than 20 messages in 2013, as the sample numbers are too small to be indicative. See the bottom of our league table for the MPs affected: here you may also see which MPs do not accept correspondence sent via WriteToThem.

Before preparing this table, we contacted the lowest performers to ensure that we had the right email addresses for them.

In the cases of Caroline Flint (9 out of 63 positive responses to our survey), Stephen Dorrell (18 out of 94) and Tom Watson (4 out of 42), we were informed that while the addresses were monitored, there were better ones to use – these are now in place on WriteToThem.

In the case of Alasdair McDonnell (10 out of 57), we were informed that we had the correct address. Jack Lopresti (4 out of 70) and Stephen Williams (53 out of 267) did not respond.

Image credit: Barry (CC)

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