Digital democracy poll results

Last Tuesday David from 38 Degrees went to a meeting with a group of politicians, who wanted to hear about how 38 Degrees members think our democracy could work better.

66,000 38 Degrees members shaped what David spoke about by filling in a survey. Here are some of the results of that survey:

  • 78% of people who filled in the survey said they used email to communicate with their MP. But 4% said they don’t get in contact at all as they know their MP won’t listen. The survey asked people to describe the way their MP responds to them. 62% said their MP always respond respectfully, but 27% said they just toe the party line. Worryingly, 6% of people said they rarely get a response from their MP and 5% said their MP never responds.
  • 66% said they’d had a good experience communicating with their MP online but 34% said they had not. The examples people gave of these good experiences were:

Annie from Edinburgh: “My MP responds thoughtfully and personally, even if we disagree about an issue.”

Chris from Clywd: “She always responds promptly, in full, and has on several occasions contacted relevant government ministers to follow up (having asked me first), most recently with Oxfam’s action on UK poverty/austerity.”

Another member said: “He has always responded when I have contacted him and on one occasion passed my concerns to the Home Secretary. He also keeps a blog which is useful for finding out his views and actions.”

  • Despite this, a massive 77% said they’d had at least one bad experience communicating with their MP online, although 23% hadn’t. The examples people gave of these bad experiences were:

Lewis from Suffolk: “My MP at my previous address refused to respond to emails based on 38 Degrees campaigning on the grounds that it was a “politically” motivated organisation even though I regarded my email as a one-to-one communication.”

Judith from Maidstone: “I flagged up my concerns about changes to teachers’ pay and conditions but merely received a standard letter in reply, which just restated the conservative education policies I had disagreed with! Basically the letter suggested that the opinions I held were wrong; the tone of the letter was dismissive and patronising.”

Hannah from Surrey Heath: “Complete lack of response, repeatedly. After emailing around 30 times, I’ve had 3 responses, one of which was really belittling, and all come with a ‘spin’ on the actual facts at hand, for him to save face.”

Rachel from South Ribble: “It always feels like I am being fobbed off. Also the letters are usually full of wishy washy statements. Once I emailed concerns I was having with the NHS being privatised because my father had leukaemia and I was worried about whether it would impact his blood transfusions. In the reply there was no mention of my dad or any ‘I’m sorry to hear that ‘ ‘or I wish you luck’. The letter was a standardised letter which I found was insensitive, rude and did not answer my question.”

  • In terms of how informative contacting their MP has been, 52% said that contacting their MP digitally hadn’t actually helped them understand how parliament works any better. Although 33% said it had, while 15% said they weren’t sure.
  • The survey then said that some MPs say that the reason they can’t respond to 38 Degrees members is because they get too many emails. 38 Degrees members were asked how they thought MPs could resolve this, here’s how they responded: