Representation and Responsiveness

The Writetothem.com site has revealed its latest figures for how long it takes for MP’s and other elected representatives to reply to queries using their website. Locally, Unionism seems to be outperforming Nationalism* and 3 DUP MPs make it into the top 25. The rest of the MPs cover the spectrum with Alasdair McDonell the worst performer, ranked 629 out of 633 (although data is unavailable for 5 local MPs). However, MPs remain the second most responsive representatives in the UK but the performance so far of our MLAs is poor ranked 7th of the 8 relevant bodies.Rankings of Local MPs

Very High Responsiveness
13. Nigel Dodds
16. Sammy Wilson
25. Jeffrey Donaldson

High Responsiveness
250. Lady Hermon (improved on last year’s performace)
255. William McCrea
295. Iris Robinson (improved on last year’s performance)

Medium Responsiveness
378. Eddie McGrady
493. David Simpson (improved on last year’s performance)
526. Peter Robinson (improved on last year’s performance)

Low Responsiveness
558. Ian Paisley
563. Gregory Campbell
597. Gerry Adams

Very Low Responsiveness
629. Alasdair McDonnell (deterioration from last year’s performance)

*Data is unavailable for Mark Durkan, Martin McGuinness, Michelle Gildernew, Conor Murphy and Pat Doherty and this may be effecting the overall perfomance levels.

  • Bigger Picture

    Good to see that when people out there need help from their representative’s they can be assured that they will get it. The 3 DUP MP’s figures at the top are very impressive out of all MP’s at Westminster and really puts to bed the myth that politicians do nothing for you. If you ask you’ll receive! (in N Belfast, E Antrim and Lagan Valley at least!)

  • Frank Sinistra

    “295. Irish Robinson (improved on last year’s performance)”

    *snigger*

    FD Corrected thanks

  • Ahem

    One small straw in the wind here, possibly. Does the evident work rate of Dodds and Donaldson mean that the DUP succession stakes is *not* the done deal for Robbo we’ve all been assuming (ie this pair are ugely hard workers, whatever the task to hand is)? Or can the fact that Robbo has such a p*sspoor constituency office better be understood as meaning that all his toilers are striving to ensure that the succession *is* well & truly sewn up (rather than doing what the, uh, taxpayer properly pays them to do)?

  • interested

    Why is Adams there when none of the other SF MPs feature?

  • Bigger Picture

    Ahem

    Interesting view to take on this. I would say that by ignoring the constituency Robbo is only going to cause himself more problems, there’s not that much distance between North and East Belfast and word quickly spreads about who can deliver for their constituents. The more of a power base you build up the more your claim rises. I don’t believe that Robinson has always operated in this way but rather he has taken his eye off the ball where it is concerned, leaving it to other ineffectual MLA’S to try and do the mundane.

    Given Dodds’ role as a minister as well it cant be assumed that he is failing in that role either. If Dodds’ work was put into an even more unionist area like East more MLA seats for the DUP would probably result and parties like the PUP would not be around.

    In the end i don’t think it matters in terms of leadership. However not the best platform to build upon.

  • Bigger Picture

    I would get out of that Alastair’s territory Fair Deal and move to somewhere where the MP will actually work for you!! 😉

  • Dawkins

    Hmm, that’s interesting. I see that according to the final table Sinn Féin are beneath Respect.

  • fair_deal

    interested

    The minimum sample size for ranking is 10 responses to the survey of users of WTT’s about an MP’s responsiveness to their message. There were not enough reponses for 5 MPs. Adams is the only SF MP with a sufficient sample.

  • fair_deal

    BP

    “I would get out of that Alastair’s territory Fair Deal and move to somewhere where the MP will actually work for you!! ;)”

    All donations to my home-purchasing fund gratefully received 😉

  • Only 100 queries sent compared to 669 for Welsh AMs and over 2,000 for Scottish MSP.

    Is this indicative of something more significant about our attitudes to politicians? Seems we don’t expect very much from our reps. The benefit of experience?

  • Bigger Picture

    beano

    This goes to show though that results can be achieved when people ask.

  • Grouch

    The tables only show a response not a resolution. I note that for some of the lowly placed ones, they spend more time working harder within their constituency and through their extremely busy offices. It is also worth noting that the busier the office of the MP the lower down their rankings the seem to be. I wonder if this is a true reflection of their ability to communicate with THEIR electorate and not some nebulous queries put through the internet. After all, our wee country don’t and haven’t used that medium for getting things done. We are more parochial here and people generally ring the MPs direct or call in to their constituency office. Additionally and more importantly, many of the requests coming through this medium should not be responded to by a superficial email. The REALLY GOOD offices actually write and phone through to the individual, thereby dealing with the issue much more thoroughly and not just trying to win statistical games. So please do be aware, this peformance measure is seriously flawed. It is a bit like ringing the police and measuring the time it took to answer as the performance instead of the time it took to respond and resolve. I know which stat I would look for.

    Stats can be used to give misleading impressions and this particular statistic is most definitely one. In my experience, the higher the position on the table above the more superficial the attitude and the response from their office – I am speaking from personal experiences

  • brendan,belfast

    Responsiveness to web based queries do not gove a fair representation on responsiveness overall. If for example Alasdair McDonnell serves the people of south Belfast he may do it through receiving phone calls and personal callers. The MP and / or his constituents may not be smart asses who sit at computers all day.

    I wouldn’t read too much into this.

  • fair_deal

    Grouch

    “It is also worth noting that the busier the office of the MP the lower down their rankings the seem to be. I wonder if this is a true reflection of their ability to communicate with THEIR electorate and not some nebulous queries put through the internet.”

    Sweeping statement, anything to substantiate it?

    I know one of the high performing offices relatively well and quiet is the last word you would use to describe it.

    “After all, our wee country don’t and haven’t used that medium for getting things done.”

    It’s 2007, some have progressed beyond a quill.

    ” The REALLY GOOD offices actually write and phone through to the individual, thereby dealing with the issue much more thoroughly and not just trying to win statistical games”

    The response to the WTT query need not be by email, if an office phones or writes to the constituent that can count as a response.

    Brendan

    “Responsiveness to web based queries do not give a fair representation on responsiveness overall. ”

    Would an efficient office not be able to cope with constituents queries in all their forms including email?

  • Grouch

    fair_deal

    The response to the WTT query need not be by email, if an office phones or writes to the constituent that can count as a response.

    That is not the case – you can check.

    Looking at statistics and interpreting them is a skill which few possess. That is why we have the aphorism “lies, damn lies and statistics”.

    You make a fair point about the fact that we have progressed beyond the quill, but we have a totally different culture in relation to how we approach our politicians and how they respond. In this country, we much prefer the personal touch and that is what happens.

    I repeat, those offices who are at the bottom of the so-called league table are actually those that address their constituent issues on a much more personal and effective way.

    To repeat my analogy, it is a bit like ringing the police and measuring the time it took to answer the call and use that as the performance measure of their effectiveness. I am sure that everyone would agree with me that it would be a much better measure to use the time it took to respond and resolve.

  • Truth & Justice

    Lady Hermon UUP

    *****250th

    Snigger

  • Bigger Picture

    Grouch

    Talk about defending an MP with a piss poor record lol you’re argument is as transparent as a window.

    Please substantiate this with some evidence that you think those who are at the bottom are the best performers. Or how you have been let down by Jeffrey, Sammy or Nigel

    You are being very sweeping in your comments which quite frankly look ridiculous the bottom line is not through which medium an enquiry is answered with but rather that they are ALL dealt with as an enquiry no matter how nebulous an enquiry may be. And to dismiss emails as just some poxy annoyance really shows up your attempt to justify why your particular MP has a poor record

  • Bigger Picture

    “The response to the WTT query need not be by email, if an office phones or writes to the constituent that can count as a response.

    That is not the case – you can check. ”

    It can be by letter or phone because i had to respond to one from WTT.

    Sorry to disapoint you Grouch but you are totally wrong on that score

  • Grouch

    Bigger_Picture

    Pray tell then the process used for counting a telephone or letter response. My humblest apologies to those who are obviously so much better at misreading stats than I – I am just a mere novice and need more experience.

    As for sweeping statements, I do have the evidence and I have talked to other MPs from Scotland and England. Interesting responses from them on the accuracy of this set of statistics. Perhaps they are in need of your erudite support and knowledge.

    I think this thread hath now become rather threadbare, like the arguments supporting the misleading stats.

  • fair_deal

    Grouch

    “That is not the case – you can check.”

    I did. You are wrong.
    http://www.writetothem.com/about-qa#address

    “address their constituent issues on a much more personal and effective way.”

    How can an office have dealt with a query in a personal and effective way if they have not responded within 21 days?

    Pretty hard to have achieved a ‘resolution’ for a constituent when an office does not communicate with them either by phone, email or letter.

    To use your analogy the police and phone call how good is police performance if they don’t bother to answer the phone at all?

    “Pray tell then the process used for counting a telephone or letter response”

    A person sends a communication including their address details and preferably their phone too. After 14 and 21 days WTT asks the person did they get a response from the MPs office this includes by email, phone or letter. It all counts towards a response.

  • Grouch

    fair_deal

    Try it. I have contacted my MP 3 times using this method. Had an excellent response each time, yet was never contacted by WTT – explain that. I can give more examples by others should they be required, and from across the UK. Work that one out.

  • fair_deal

    Grouch

    It’s an easy one to work out as I am afraid your answers are now completely inconsistent.

    A person who had used WTT multiple times would know that it asks for a range of personal contact information to forward on to the MP and it was not restricted to using email. I am also surprised considering your trenchant criticism of WTT, that you omitted a consistently poor experience of their work until now and only after their approach was spelt out to you.

    So with that backdrop lots of examples are required, else I am afraid you will have to be put you in the troll category.

  • Grouch

    fair_deal

    You do misunderstand me. I had used the system and can only repeat what I have said. No follow-up from WTT ever took place. I received contact back from the MP to the various points I raised but none from WTT.

    “am also surprised considering your trenchant criticism of WTT, that you omitted a consistently poor experience of their work until now and only after their approach was spelt out to you”

    But I didn’t receive a poor experience. That is the point you miss. How would I know it was a poor performance excepting that I read the statistics at the start of this thread. My experience was actually good, but I cannot sit back and allow nonsense like this to go unchallenged.

    Troll indeed, perhaps you were being DROLL.

  • fair_deal

    Grouch

    You mentioned multple other examples?

  • Bigger Picture

    Grouch

    Completely inconsistant. You describe emailing through WTT as “nebulous” and that real enquiries are dealt with by phone and calling in and now claim that you have used WTT 3 times and have got a response from your MP on all 3 occassions and have been happy with the service?!

    “I am just a mere novice and need more experience”

    Quite clearly at trying to set out a coherent argument as well as trying to read stats.

    Your argument on this thread bears all the hallmarks of somebody trying to defend an MP who has been found wanting when it comes to dealing with their electors, all lines of communication coming into a constituency office are dealt with in the same way and a poor response to emails will correlate with a poor response to other forms of communication as well.

  • Grouch

    Bigger Picture and Fair deal

    The inconsistency is yours. You read the contents out of context. When I said I have used it 3 times, that is true, it does not make it nebulous. I have emailed my MP directly much more often. When I have been around the WTT site looking at stats and comments and performance, I have on occasion used it. When reading one thing it is often the case that other ideas or thoughts come into your mind. My contact through WTT has often been more suggestion than a specific problem. The point I am making is that no-one followed up with me. Why? If these stats are worth anything they need to be consistent, robust and true. The data must also be of reasonable size to be significant. WTT also clearly state “….Because of this, and because of the way different people interpret the survey, you should interpret the figures below with caution”.

    I have also discovered that WTT do not always send the email to the right address. I have just tested it and found that it went to someone in the particular party HQ – WTT contact details were totally wrong and the email was picked up by the “Administrator”. Whilst this did not delay the email I sent in getting to the MP office, nevertheless, if the administrator had delayed sending it, it would have had the potential of creating some sort of delay. Additionally, the MP sees the email forwarded to them from another source. I have contacted WTT about this and the obvious error – they will fix it. So, a flaw in WTT if they can’t even send the email directly to the MP. It is fairly easy to get the MP’s email{surname}{initial}@parliament.uk

    Why don’t you try your MP and see what happens. Maybe it is a bit of a glitch. Have a look at the WTT stats on their own website
    http://www.writetothem.com/stats/2006/mps
    There are a number of MPs where WTT have admitted that “WriteToThem had possibly bad contact details for this MP”. At least one on this list is among the MPs offices on the mainland that I contacted.

    I think before you rant on your not so high and not so mighty horses you should read the thread and then check your facts. It is extremely foolish to jump to conclusions when looking at a table of statistics without understanding just where they come from.

    As for my comment about the system being nebulous, I still stand by that comment. People in N.Ireland do have a more parochial attitude and culture and rely much more on the personal touch.

    I await to see if this latest note to the MP leads to someone writing, emailing or ringing me to check if the MP has responded. I remain consistent and whilst I am creating a defence for an MP, it is justified. No point in smearing the reputation of a good MP just because of a set of stats based on nebulous (there’s that word again) stats.

  • Ray

    Grouch, you have hit the nail on the head. I checked AMcD’s stats and the contact details. WTT had over 3 old email addresses for him one of which did get eventually get through to him via a fairly roundabout route. I have now sorted this out. Thanks to everyone for raising this problem which I was unaware of beforehand. And, sorry to any constituent who didn’t get a response.

  • Bigger Picture

    Grouch

    If you want to set out your stall to defend a particular MP then that is all fine- i thought it was A McD all along. What you are trying to insinuate though is that those at the top are not actually working as hard. What is to say that the WTT info for Nigel Dodds is better and more direct than the info on A McD?? and therefore the MP’s at the top receive these and deal with them efficiently.

    So if there is a prob with A McD’s contact details then fair enough. However you then describe those who write these emails and to whom the MP responds as dealing with nebulous enquiries?? Why so more nebulous than the enquiries that any MP office gets over the phone or coming into the office??

    You set out that the info was wrong in South Belfast and that is why McDonnell’s record is poor but at the same time you are lambasting MP’s who deal with these enquiries as time wasters who are not dealing with real issues that people calling into the office personally have.

    Correct me where i have gone wrong in your defence of Alisdair McDonnell on this issue please.

  • Bigger Picture

    I still think you have got the wrong end of the stick / or stats / or comment. Where do you get off saying that I was lambasting those at the top. Read the comments carefully and don’t get too hung up on these. My whole point was that the stats are nebulous, and so they have proved. If there are flaws in them, then perhaps those at the top might not be so good. Then again they could be. Might it be that you want to defend your MP with a high position – and don’t want to believe that the stats should be taken with a good kilo of salt – maybe even nebulous? I think Ray’s comments prove that at least AMcD’s stats are nebulous – one proof more than my own (which isn’t AMcD by the way).

    If you want to look at the Bigger Picture, then look at these stats with a good dose of scepticism, good or bad.

  • Grouch

    Whoops

    Signed this off as the person I meant it to refer to. Sorry about this.

    The above should be signed off by GROUCH!!!!

  • Bigger Picture

    Grouch

    I can understand this perfectly well. If the figures need to be taken with a dose of salt then fair enough. But if the facts state an MP has answered so many responses through non faulty communication lines (obviously not in A McD’s case) then that remains the truth.

    Also nice to see that i know have people who are willing to style themselves as me ;)!!!

  • Grouch

    Bigger Picture

    Well, one can only try