Tuesday, September 18, 2007

WriteToThem.com – misrepresenting the facts?


Yesterday I drew your attention to a survey conducted by WriteToThem.com which indicated that Labour MPs tended to be the least responsive to their constituent’s queries. The survey drew particular attention to Linda Riordan MP who was reported to have responded to only 5 of 54 messages received from constituents.

I have since heard from Linda Riordan’s constituency office who have indicated that they have not been receiving emails sent via the WriteToThem.com website (which naturally enough would make responding to them something of a problem). Apparently WriteToThem.com have so far failed to respond to queries from the constituency office in this regard.

Until WriteToThem.com issue a clarification I think it’s fair to say their entire survey must be considered unreliable.

Looks like the next move is theirs to make…


Chris Paul said...

Hurrah! You would know this alreadyt if you had looked at those who fell off the bottom of the survey and in many cases were not getting the emails from Write To Them. I also pointed out that the survey would be very easy to manipulate in either a good or bad way. And that if you take the top 20 Labour come out most responsive, and the top 50 pretty good. The DUP are the best of the lot. But it's not good.

Anonymous said...

Not only that (ie problems with where the emails go to - Writetothem don't ask MPs for emails but go on those given on sites such as the Guardian which are not regularly checked or up to date) but if the survey has been run as it has before it is methodologically suspect in that it asked constituents to 'recall' how long it took for an MP to respond...From personal experience, even armed with the evidence, people can be very forgetful of when - or even if - they received the communication you are showing them a copy of.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you've been had, Shane. Thank God Iain's back.

Anonymous said...

WriteToThem.com send emails to the MP's parliamentary email address - BloggsA@parliament.uk

Tory MPs tend to have their staff in Westminster whereas Labour MPs tend to have their staff in the constituency (where it's easier for publicly-paid staff to do party-political work).

It's probable that their constituency staff aren't being forwarded emails from the Westminster office (if there even is one).

It could also be the case that the MP is lazy and doesn't bother responding, I suppose; did they include Gwyn Tosser (Dover) in their survey?

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm Matthew from mySociety, the charitable project that runs WriteToThem.

There are important inaccuracies in this post and the comments following it.

First, Linda Riordan's office certainly has been receiving email via WriteToThem. Their considerably improved 2007 rating thus far reflects this. The reason that they might think they are not is that we have various anti abuse filters running on the site, including ones to stop politicians trying to improve their own ratings by sending messages to themselves. It caught their test message and froze it.

The very simple reason that Ms Riordan has a bad score for 2006 appears to be that her office stopped using one email address and moved to another without closing the email account, or providing change of address bounces. An MP who moved office without leaving a forwarding address would be considered quite remiss, and this is the exact same situation. WriteToThem sends on a minority of constituency email, so we'll never know how many other people used the old address, got neither a bounce nor an error and assumed that their correspondence had been ignored.

The old email address was not even obscure, it was taken direct from this MP's site (not, as your commenter claims from the BBC or Guardian) at http://web.archive.org/web/20060201231627/http://www.lindariordan.co.uk/

Out of interest the last MP to claim that we had his rating wrong went and checked how email was being handled in his office. He then returned with the priceless line:

"Yep. Turns out I was talking shite"

Anonymous said...

Iain/Shane - would you please update your post in the light of MySociety's comment above.