How hard are our MPs working for us?

by Stephen Tall on November 14, 2006

Lib Dems, especially those actively involved in community politics, tend to be quite suspicious of league tables.

To an extent understandably: local councils, schools and health authorities (for example) have all had to collect and publish data according to nationally-set criteria. And sometimes its a pointless waste of time.

But, as long as the limitations of the data on which such league tables are based are recognised, league tables are a helpful ready-reckoner which allow you to ask the right questions to drill-down, and better understand performance within an organisation.

It’s very much in that spirit that I present the following league table of Lib Dem Parliamentarians ranked according to the number of press releases issued during November. The list is in descending order of frequency, and alphabetically by surname where tied:

Lib Dem shadow cabinet:

Nick Clegg (Shadow Home Secretary) = 11
Chris Huhne (Shadow Environment Secretary) = 7
Menzies Campbell (Leader) = 6
Michael Moore (Shadow Foreign Secretary) = 6
Steve Webb (Shadow Health Secretary) = 6
Andrew Stunnell (Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) = 5
David Laws (Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions) = 4
Sarah Teather (Shadow Education and Skills Secretary) = 4
Vince Cable (Shadow Chancellor and Deputy Leader) = 3
Alistair Carmichael (Shadow Transport Secretary) = 2
Ed Davey (Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary) = 2
Don Foster (Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary) = 2
Nick Harvey (Shadow Defence Secretary) = 2
Norman Lamb (Leader’s Chief of Staff) = 2
David Heath (Shadow Leader of the House of Commons) = 1
Simon Hughes (Constitutional Affairs & Shadow Attorney General) = 1

Lib Dem spokespersons:

Sandra Gidley (Shadow Health spokesperson) = 2
Evan Harris (Spokesperson for Science) = 2
Susan Kramer (Shadow International Development Secretary) = 2
Danny Alexander (shadow spokesperson, Dept for Work & Pensions and spokesperson for disability-related issues) = 1
Tom Brake (Shadow Minister for Local Government and Community Cohesion) = 1
Lorely Burt (spokesperson for Women and Equality and spokesperson for DTI (Small Business)) = 1
Lord Garden (Peer) = 1
John Pugh (Shadow Health spokesperson) = 1

All the usual criticisms of this table can be made. It measures quantity not quality. It covers only a two-week period. Some shadow cabinet portfolios lend themselves more easily to press releases than others. Press releases are by no means the only measure of how well our Parliamentarians are performing.

All true enough. I am drawing no inferences by collating and publishing this table, simply reporting what I was interested enough to try and find out for myself.

But I will make one point. There are 24 Lib Dem shadow cabinet members, including the Leader, and sixteen of them feature in this table. That means one-third did not file a press release in the last two weeks.

The party website is one medium by which the party can communicate directly both with voters and with our members. I hope all our shadow cabinet can find something worthwhile saying about what they’re doing in their role at least once a fortnight – to prove we really are working hard all year round.