Feeds

Political parties fail e-lectorate

Just paying lip service to the Net

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

All three main political parties have failed to address the needs of online voters, according to a survey by the Hansard Society.

The Society found that Labour, the Tories and LibDems failed to reply to emails sent in by voters. When they did reply, it took more than 13 hours for a response. Many were automated replies or referred voters to another source of information.

In one case a 25-page document was attached to an email.

The research shows that despite all the hype about 2001 being the year of the e-lection, Britain's political parties simply aren't geared up to use the interactivity of the Web.

While they're happy to issue propaganda via email or text message, they are incapable of meeting the needs of individual voters.

Of course, there's little surprise in this. The resources needed to handle all the enquiries would swamp even the most well resourced organisation.

Hopes that the Net would somehow herald a dimension in political accountability appear to be unfounded.

Dr Stephen Coleman, director of the Hansard Society's e-democracy programme, said: "The parties are offering lots of opportunities for the public to interact with them, but for the most part they are failing to provide the kind of authentic democratic interactivity that the Internet promises."

Anyhow, back to the research. The Hansard Society sent out the following nine questions via email to the three main parties:

1. How does your party feel about using the internet more often to involve the public in policy making?
2. Is it true that most MPs don't accept emails from their constituents? Would you accept - and reply to - them if elected?
3. Do you agree with me that Britain should join NAFTA?
4. Does your party support free eye tests for all?
5. I am unemployed and would like to know your party's policy on enabling people to open bank accounts who are currently rejected by the major banks?
6. What is your party's view on stem cell research?
7. Would you favour lowering the voting age to 16?
8. Who would you regard as the best Prime Minister of the 20th Century?
9. I am seven and when I grow up I want to become an MP. How do I learn to do this and which party should I support?

And here are the results.

Labour

  • Labour's average response time was 945.6 minutes (over 15 hours).
  • Labour responded to 89 per cent of the emails.
  • But 70 per cent of these were 'automated responses' that did not specifically answer the questions put - referring enquirers instead to the party manifesto or the Web site.
  • Only one response email from Labour contained information pertaining directly to the question asked - on the topic of free eye tests.

Conservatives

  • The Conservative response time was the fastest - with responses averaging at 771.6 minutes (about 13 hours).
  • The Conservatives were least likely to provide any response at all - replying to only 56 per cent of emails.
  • However, if enquirers were lucky enough to receive a response from the Conservatives it was in all cases related directly to the questions they asked.

Liberal Democrats

  • The Liberal Democrats' average response time at 1035.3 minutes (over 17 hours) was the longest of all the parties, but enquirers can expect to receive a personalised response.
  • The LibDems provided a response to 78 per cent of all email inquiries. The responses varied between one word on several occasions ('Yes' or 'No') and 10,000 words (a 25-page policy document was attached to one email) ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.