Jonathan Gullis and Abi Brown: Why the Lords should move to Stoke

23 May

Jonathan Gullis is MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, and Abi Brown is Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Last week, Michael Gove suggested that whilst restoration and renewal work took place in the Houses of Parliament, that he “would wholeheartedly welcome the relocation of the House of Lords to one of our great cities, and in particular the attractions of the six towns that constitute Stoke-on-Trent”.

This has caused uproar from some Peers and the Assistant Editor of Conservative Home, William Atkinson.

So, we are here to explain why Stoke-on-Trent would make the perfect home for the House of Lords – albeit temporarily.

Stoke-on-Trent was the beating heart of the industrial revolution; from the engineering genius of James Brindley in creating the Trent-Mersey canal, the pits of Chatterley Whitfield Colliery – the first colliery in the UK to bring up 1 million tonnes of coal in a year – to the potbanks of Wedgwood, Spode and Burgess & Leigh.

Historically, Stoke-on-Trent has also played a major role in this country’s democracy. Outside Swanbank Methodist Church in the Mother Town of Burslem on 16th August 1842, Chartist Josiah Heapy was shot dead, alongside others, as they campaigned for the right to vote. Our most famous Stokie, Josiah Wedgwood, helped end the slave trade in this country, creating the famous anti-slavery medallion to garner public support.

But it’s not only our city’s historical importance that says why we should be taken seriously.

Their Lordships will find getting here easier than they may think. It takes 90 minutes to get here by train from London, which will be down to just 60 minutes with the Handsacre Link from HS2. By road, we are connected with the M6 and A50 corridor, and by air, we have four international airports just over 60 minutes away.

We are in the north Midlands, gatekeepers to the Northern Powerhouse and part of the infamous former red wall. There is no better place geographically for their Lordships to be able to get to, from across our United Kingdom.

But above all else, the most important reason why moving the House of Lords to Stoke-on-Trent makes sense, is because we are the litmus test for the government’s levelling up agenda.

The year 2019 was monumental for our city. In May, despite a very challenging backdrop, we went from seven to 15 elected Conservative councillors, going from junior partners in the coalition first formed in 2015, to being the larger group. Since then, with defections from Labour and the Independents, we now have 22 councillors, and for the first time ever, run the council as a majority group.

In December of that year, the blue wave washed across Stoke-on-Trent, turning all three constituency seats Conservative for the first time in our city’s history.

Since then, the ‘Stoke Mafia’, as we are known by some Ministers, has been jointly making our case why Stoke-on-Trent is the perfect place to invest and prove that levelling up can work.

Since 2015, housebuilding has accelerated, averaging around 1,000 homes per year, with 97% on brownfield land. We are the 8th fastest growing economy in England, having already created 8,000 jobs in the last six years, and it was predicted last week that by the end of 2023, Stoke-on-Trent will be the third best place in the UK for jobs growth, outperforming Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London. We are also home to one of the UK’s most successful enterprise zones in the country, the Ceramic Valley.

We have been extremely successful in securing major government investment to Stoke-on-Trent.

There is £56 million of Levelling Up funding to unlock new homes, retail and office space and the city’s first arena, which will have an e-sports specialism – the first of its kind outside of London.

Also, £31 million is going to Bus Back Better, which will mean fairer fares, smarter bus routes and a more reliable service. This is in addition to money from the Restoring Your Railway’s fund to reopen Meir Station, and explore the possibility of reversing the Beeching cuts on the old Stoke to Leek line.

The Department for Education has made us a priority Education Improvement Area (EIA) to improve educational outcomes and skills locally, as well as investing £15 million to refurbish Middlehurst School into a new SEND school.

We are getting millions to pay off debt and expand capacity at the Royal Stoke University Hospital; £18 million towards research and development in advanced ceramics, and lastly, thanks to former Stoke-on-Trent resident Priti Patel, we are getting over 500 new jobs from the Home Office.

Unlike the Labour Party which forgot where Stoke-on-Trent was, believing the only Stoke that existed was Stoke Newington, it is this Prime Minister, this Chancellor, this Home Secretary and this Secretary of State for Levelling Up, who are giving Stoke-on-Trent its rightful recognition.

Their Lordships could find no better place to spend their time. We encourage them to come here and listen to people about why levelling up is so important.

Wherever the Lords ends up, Brexit showed that the Westminster bubble must reconnect with the country. The government is right to move parts of Whitehall out of London. Most of all, we must ensure that we don’t just talk of levelling up, but live it.

Jonathan Gullis: Our reforms to teacher training put us on the side of trainees, pupils and taxpayers

20 Jul

Jonathan Gullis is MP for Stoke-on-Trent North.

The great conservative education reforms of the last decade have seen us raise standards on behalf of pupils and parents.

We have freed failing schools from the grips of local authority control, handing powers to transformative multi-academy trusts. The phonics revolution means more than nine in ten children are reading fluently by age seven. And we have restored rigour and academic discipline to schools, ensuring children leave school equipped with the cultural capital that is their rightful inheritance.

And at almost every stage, unions and entrenched interest groups have opposed our successful reforms.

Take phonics, for example. England achieved its highest-ever ranking in the international literacy league tables thanks to Nick Gibb’s phonics reforms. But in 2011, the teaching unions and Labour were implacably opposed. Have we ever heard retractions from Mary Bousted, Lisa Nandy and their co-signatories to this letter opposing the introduction of the phonics test as ‘of benefit to no one’?

This is just one more example of the unions acting in a clearly politicised manner. The latest and most egregious example of this obstructionist attitude came during the pandemic, when the National Education Union, as led by Bousted and Kevin Courtney, acted against the interests of children and parents to make home learning harder and to prevent schools opening.

The last unreformed area of the school system is teacher training – but not for long.

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister announced 500,000 teacher training programmes would be delivered this Parliament, significantly raising the quality of teaching in schools. Important reforms are already being delivered, providing in-school training for teachers in the first two years in the classroom, as well as specialist training for more experienced teachers looking to progress in their careers. These reforms are instilling rigour into teacher CPD, mirroring the successful curriculum reforms of the last decade.

The final frontier is initial teacher training – most often a year-long PGCE. Despite some reforms at the beginning of the last decade, this introduction to teaching remains stubbornly in the grips of unreformed university education departments. Schools do now play a greater role in teacher training, but more than four in five would-be teachers must jump through the hoops of university education departments before beginning their careers.

Prior to my eight years in teaching, I did my own PGCE at the Institute of Education. Too often, training is low-quality and riddled with ideology. Would-be teachers expecting to learn how to deal with unruly pupils and how to inspire a passion for their subject are instead expected to regurgitate ideological mumbo-jumbo in their essays. Ideological induction over, they are then left to sink or swim in the classroom. There is far too little practical training.

That is why the Government’s consultation on the review of initial teacher training is so welcome. The reforms would guarantee would-be teachers a trained in-school mentor, at least 38 weeks of training, and an intensive four-week placement – as part of 28 weeks in schools – designed to hone and refine key classroom skills. The government’s expert group report can be read in full here.

As an ex-teacher I have to say I can find very little to disagree with. In a shocking development, even Bousted and the other teaching union leaders accept there is merit to these reforms. And yet, the teaching unions and their allies in university education departments have been fuming since the Government launched its consultation a fortnight ago.

The reason: the most important component of the reforms is the requirement for all initial teacher training providers to be reaccredited. In exchange for the almost £10k per trainee they charge, the Government believes teacher training institutions should have to prove they are delivering the reasonable minimum quality requirements set out by their review.

The new requirement puts the Government on the side of trainee teachers, pupils and taxpayers, demanding a modest minimum quality of training in exchange for generous funding. Predictably, the education blob is howling once again, with the usual set of hysterical claims that accompany every challenge to the status quo.

According to the teaching unions the mere fact of consulting on these reforms risks teacher supply. And rather than being what teacher training should at its core be about, requiring universities to provide basic behaviour management and pedagogical training is a threat to academic freedom – according to university education departments.

The truth is far more mundane. The gravy train of taxpayer-funded ideological training is at an end, as it should be. From now on, training will have to serve the trainee and their future pupils. But these are typically moderate and sensible conservative reforms that put government on the side of people and taxpayers, rowing back on the prevailing ideological orthodoxy of unions and universities.

Lewis Feilder: UK laws haven’t been strong enough to protect memorials. But all of that is about to change.

5 Apr

Lewis Feilder is on the Conservative Party’s Parliamentary Candidates’ list, works as a management consultant and is a board member of Conservative Friends of the Armed Forces.

One element of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 that has received much less attention recently than others is the protection it introduces against criminal damage to memorials.

Like most people, I was appalled to watch during last year’s protests as the Cenotaph on Whitehall was attacked, Churchill’s statue was graffitied and PC Keith Palmer’s memorial at the gates of Parliament was urinated upon.

I despaired at the inevitability of the perpetrators of these acts of gross indecency – if ever caught – being brought up before a magistrate and being sent on their way with a nominal fine.

The young man who tried to set light to the Union Jack on the Cenotaph was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay only £340 in court costs. It’s pitiful and undermines public trust in the judicial system, but it’s sadly what we’ve come to expect.

As a board member of Conservative Friends of the Armed Forces, I wanted to know why and began researching the laws pertaining to desecration of war memorials, whereupon it rapidly became clear there simply were none. In contrast to most other Commonwealth Realms, the UK gives no special protection to war memorials, or other types of public memorial.

When damage is purposefully caused to them, prosecutors have to rely upon existing criminal damage statutes, which only take account of the financial value of the damage caused. Where this is less than £5,000, as is the case in most instances of desecration, courts have very limited powers available to them – a maximum sentence of three months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £2,500. This struck me as wholly insufficient and a failure to take into account the public outrage and emotional distress caused by the level of disrespect shown in these cases.

So, that morning I sat down to write what a new law would look like and circulated this to a few MPs who I thought might be supportive. With the image of a young man trying to set alight to the Union Jack on the Cenotaph still live in people’s minds, support was not in short supply and Jonathan Gullis, the new MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, and James Sunderland, the former Army colonel and new MP for Bracknell, took up the cudgels.

Support rapidly snowballed and within 48 hours we had 150 MPs’ signatures on a letter to the Home Secretary. Over the next few weeks, we met with both the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary, who both gave their full backing to updating the law and instructed their departments to find the best way to get it on the statute books. It was clear we were pushing against an open door.

It had in fact been tried previously more than a decade ago, when David Burrowes, the then MP for Enfield Southgate, introduced a Private Members’ Bill, which was rapidly scuppered by the calling of the 2010 General Election.

Finally now, the law is being updated and the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 will soon reflect that where damage or desecration of a memorial occurs and amounts to an offence of criminal damage, the court will no longer be constrained in its options where the value involved in monetary terms is assessed to be less than £5,000.

The maximum sentence of imprisonment will now be ten years’ imprisonment, reflecting the severity of the nature of the crime. Of course, it remains the role of magistrates to take into account aggravating and mitigating factors in applying these new powers.

While the passage of time might dim our collective memory of those who have served or died for their country, war memorials serve as a permanent testimony to those who must not be forgotten. This change to the law ensures that their memory can no longer be sullied with impunity.

Conservative MPs made a strong case against Labour’s free school meal plans in the Commons yesterday

22 Oct

To the surprise of those expecting a u-turn, the Government appears to have toughed out Marcus Rashford’s latest campaign to extend free school meals through the holidays.

Yesterday Labour held an Opposition Day debate on the subject, which was defeated by 322 votes to 261. Only five Conservatives (Caroline Ansell, Rob Halfon, Jason McCartney, Anne Marie Morris, and Holly Mumby-Croft) voted with the Opposition.

The result has outraged Twitter, with the usual, dastardly portrayals of Tory motivations getting bandied about. But to get a better idea of what motivated last night’s vote, we’ve been through Hansard and had a look at the arguments advanced on the day. These seem to fall into a few broad categories.

First comes the not unreasonable (if somewhat partisan) point that the policy being advanced by Labour is not one they chose to pursue during the 13 years they were in power. Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw) asked: “why did colleagues on the Opposition Benches never implement any of them under the Labour Government?” Tom Randall (Gedling), further noted that “the proposal in the motion was rejected by the Labour Government when it was made in 2007.”

(Randall also called the Opposition out for improperly invoking the blessed name of Marcus Rashford: “But according to his tweet of 18 October, Mr Rashford is calling for school meal provision in all holidays. Is it that the Opposition motion does not agree with Mr Rashford but is attempting to catch his coat tails or do the Opposition secretly agree with him but are too coy to say it at the moment?”)

Several other MPs had reservations about the model being proposed. Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge) set out the problem thus:

“The motion calls on the Government to extend free school meal provision throughout the school holidays until Easter next year. Although on the Order Paper this is a debate about free school meals, even if the motion passes, the result will not be more free school meals. To risk stating the obvious, during the holidays schools are closed, and they do not provide physical meals—free or otherwise—to any child. Let us be clear: what is really being called for here is an extension to the voucher scheme that would start in half-term next week by giving supermarket vouchers to parents of children who are eligible. That is not the same as providing a daily nutritious meal to a child in a school environment to help them get the most out of their education. It is important to recognise the difference between free school meals and what they are for, and supermarket vouchers.”

Jonathan Gullis (Stoke-on-Trent North), himself a former teacher, spelled out some of the consequences of this distinction:

” This is not a one-off extension—this is about free school meals being permanently provided outside of school time. First, who is going to fund that—the school or the state? Do schools provide the meals on-site, or do they have to deliver food parcels? If so, do they have to renegotiate their contracts? Have the unions supported that? Is there understanding of the voucher system, and are they being used in an appropriate and responsible manner? I have had supermarkets, parents and schools contact me directly to say that they have grave concerns about the way in which those vouchers have been used.”

And Danny Kruger explained that Labour were trying to force schools to shoulder a responsibility which was outside their remit:

“As we have heard from the shadow Secretary of State, there is a possibility of the proposal becoming permanent. That is not an appropriate use of schools. Now that schools are open again, it is not appropriate to make them welfare providers. That is a role for the welfare system.”

Beyond these technical questions, several MPs also challenged the underlying premise that the State should be further encroaching on the proper responsibilities of parents.

Clarke-Smith said: “When did it suddenly become controversial to suggest that the primary responsibility for a child’s welfare should lie with their parents, or to suggest that people do not always spend vouchers in the way they are intended?”, whilst Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) added:

“I listened very carefully to what the shadow Secretary of State said, and at one point she said—I hope I do not get this wrong—that it is the Government’s job to make sure children do not go hungry. I differ there, and I think lots of my constituents differ there too, because they would be appalled by the prospect of the Government interfering in their daily lives to make sure their children did not go hungry.”

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Clevelys), a former minister, put it slightly differently but touched on a similar theme: “I am not sure that it returns that sense of agency and autonomy that I seek. Politics is not something that we do to people; it is something that we do with people.”

Naturally many on the left – and indeed, some in the Party – will disagree with some or all of these arguments. But the cartoon-villain image of well-off, southern Tories dismissing concerns of which they have no personal experience does not survive contact with the actual debate. The Conservative caricature has fallen some way behind the state of the current Conservative Party.

John Bald: Ofqual’s evidence at a Select Committee this week demonstrated why it should be wound up

4 Sep

John Bald is a former Ofsted inspector and has written two books on the history of writing and spelling. He is Chairman of the Conservative Education Society.

Ofqual’s appearance at the Education Select Committee on Wednesday showed more clearly than anything to date just how far the organisation’s faith in statistical modelling and lack of understanding of education led it into error – and the education system into chaos.

Roger Taylor, its Chairman, started confidently, saying that Ofqual had wanted examinations to continue, but had been overruled by the Secretary of State. A second option had been to delay the examinations, and the third to find “some form of calculated grades.”

Gavin Williamson wrote to Ofqual on March 31 to say that students should receive “calculated results based on their exam centres’ judgements of their ability in the relevant subjects, supplemented by a range of other evidence.”

He went on to say that the approach should be “standardised across centres”, and that steps should be taken to maintain a similar grade profile to previous years. Ofqual then used “statistics and teachers’ rankings” to produce something which, said Taylor, was as fair as it could be.

The first error was to advise that examinations continue. This was impossible because some schools, following trade union advice, stopped direct online teaching as soon as lockdown started, while others – only a handful in the state sector – did not.

Stopping teaching when it would have been perfectly possible to continue it for A level classes would have put the affected pupils at a serious disadvantage. The same issue would have affected delayed examinations.

Ofqual’s statisticians could not have been expected to understand these considerations, but ministers did. Ofqual’s Board, which has highly experienced and expert practitioners, would have been able to explain the position but,  according to its official records, did not meet between 26th September 2019 and a late-night session on 15th August, when it put its collective foot down over the botched appeals process. Why not?

What seems to have happened instead is the delegation of the work to a technical group, which did not standardise teachers’ assessments, as instructed, but ignored them completely by applying a statistical model to their rankings. Michelle Meadows, Ofqal’s “Executive director, strategy, risk and research”, justified this by saying that teachers’ grades were not accurate, but that their rankings were.

There is some research evidence to support this view, notably from Daisy Christodoulou, but to ignore teachers’ grades completely was a victory for statistics over reality. Dr Meadows told the committee that 0.2 per cent of grades were “potentially anomalous” and that the statistical model – which I will not flatter with the term “algorithm” – was fair and unbiased.

Furthermore, as teachers were often unsure whether to enter candidates for lower or higher tiers in some subjects, Ofqual had removed any limitation on grades for foundation candidates. That sounds fair – until we see pupils with very limited skills awarded grade 9 on the basis of work they’d never even seen.

Conservative committee members Jonathan Gullis and Christian Wakeford made the case for reality, Gullis pointing to the unfairness of the model to large entries from FE colleges, and Wakeford echoing a pupil’s lament, “I’ve got somebody else’s D”.

The consequences of not applying the model to entries of fewer than five candidates, which favoured private schools and some subjects had clearly blind-sided Ofqual, as did the question why they did not run this year’s results, which they had had since June, through the model to see how far it worked.

Dr Meadows evaded this question, saying they had done all sorts of trials. The point is: why not this one, which would have allowed problems to be identified in advance? It is hard to see how a system that only claimed 60 per cent accuracy could result in only 0.2 per cent of potential anomalies, but Dr Meadows was undaunted. Analysis did not show any bias in the system.

Robert Halfon concluded by asking whether Ofqual was fit for purpose, to which the witnesses, all of them Ofqual officials, predictably replied in the affirmative.

I do not agree with them. Assigning children’s futures to a statistical model, without considering the quality of their work, or even looking at it, is not the action of a reasonable body, acting reasonably, and would have brought a well-deserved hammering on judicial review.

If Ofqual had moderated teachers assessments sensibly, perhaps, as suggested by Bob3142 in response to my previous article, by requiring schools to justify any overall change from past performance, we could have had a fair outcome. As it is, we have had to swallow the grade inflation, and leave schools and universities to sort out the mess. Ofqual should be wound up.

Rob Sutton: Introducing the top 50 Conservative MPs on Twitter

29 Jun

Conservative MP Twitter power rankings: the top 50

Rob Sutton is an incoming junior doctor in Wales and a former Parliamentary staffer. He is a recent graduate of the University of Oxford Medical School.

Amongst the social media giants, Twitter is the primary battleground for political discourse. It’s also one of the key avenues by which MPs convey their message, and has near-universal uptake by members in the current House of Commons.

The effectiveness with which Twitter is utilised varies considerably between MPs, but it is difficult to compare like-for-like. How does one take into account the differences between, for instance, a freshman MP and a veteran Cabinet member? Length of service in Parliament and ministerial rank give a considerable advantage when building a following.

In this article, I have compiled a power ranking of MPs in the current Parliament, with the top 50 shown in the chart above. The MP’s follower count was adjusted by factoring in their previous experience, to better reflect the strength of their following and their success at engagement on the platform.

Being Twitter-savvy is about more than just a high follower count: any Secretary of State can achieve this just by virtue of the media exposure their office brings. Building a Twitter following based on thoughtful commentary and authentic engagement requires skill ,and can be achieved by members across all Parliamentary intakes and ranks of Government.

Though the top 10 is still dominated by MPs holding senior ministerial offices, the composition of the list beyond it is far more variable. A number of prominent backbenchers are in the top 20, and four members from the 2019 intake make the top 50, beating longer-serving and higher-ranked colleagues.

I hope that this list serves as recognition of the skill and contribution by Conservative members to public debate and engagement, beyond ministerial duties which so often dominate any mention in the media.

Building a model of Twitter power rankings

Success is judged by number of followers, with higher follower counts indicating greater influence on Twitter. The follower count was adjusted using three key parameters:

  • The number of years since an MP was first elected to Parliament.
  • The number of years the MP’s Twitter account has been active.
  • Their highest rank within Government achieved since 2010.

Higher values for each of these would be expected to contribute to a higher follower count. I built a model using the open-source Scikit-Learn package, and fitted it to data from the current Parliament.

The model was then used to predict how many followers a given MP might expect to have based on these three factors. The steps taken to produce a final “Twitter power score” were thus as follows:

  • Using these three factors, multiple linear regression was used to calculate the expected number of Twitter followers an MP might have.
  • Their true follower count was divided by the expected follower count to produce a single number which represented the MP’s performance at building a following.
  • Finally, a logarithm was taken of this ratio to make the number more manageable and to produce a final Twitter power score.

The final step of taking a logarithm means it is easier to compare between MPs without those who have very high follower counts (such as Boris Johnson) making the data difficult to compare, but it does not affect the order of the ranking.

Compiling the data

Having decided which factors to correct the model for, I collected the required information. All three factors were easy to find reliable sources for. The Twitter page for each MP displays the date the account was created, and the Parliamentary website provides the date of their first election to Parliament and previous government posts.

Members who are newly returned to the backbenches following governmental duties (such as Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt) are scored at their highest government rank since 2010 to recognise this. I was able to find the Twitter accounts and required information for 319 Conservative MPs who were included in this ranking.

To build a model based on this data required incorporating the highest government rank numerically. To do this, I assigned scores according to their rank. These grades recognised their relative seniority and media exposure associated with the office, with higher scores assigned to more senior positions:

  • Prime Ministers, Secretaries of State, Speakers, Leaders of the House and Chief Whips are scored 3.
  • Ministers of State, Deputy Speakers and Deputy Chief Whips are scored 1.
    Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State, Parliamentary Private Secretaries and Whips are scored 0.5.
  • Backbenchers score 0.

When assigning these values, I considered the typical sizes of follower counts of MPs in each category. When comparing Secretaries of States to Ministers of State, the median follower count is around twice the size, but the mean follower count is around eight times the size, as a handful of very large follower count skews the results upwards.

Deciding on weightings requires a (somewhat arbitrary) decision as to which measures to use when comparing between groups, and the scores I decided on were ultimately chosen as a compromise across these different measures, which produced stable results when used in the model.

It is also worth explaining why Prime Ministers are grouped with Secretaries of State, despite the far higher media exposure and seniority of their post. When deciding on the respective weighting for different levels of government post, a sufficiently large pool of MPs was needed to produce a meaningful comparison. The only data points for comparison of Prime Ministers are Boris Johnson and Theresa May, so it is difficult to give them their own weighting without it being either unreliable or arbitrary.

While grouping them with Secretaries of State and other senior positions might be perceived as giving them an unfair advantage in the weighting, I felt it justified given these challenges in determining the “fair” weight to assign them. With this done, I had three parameters for each MP on which to build a model to calculate the expected number of Twitter followers.

Calculating the number of expected Twitter followers

I built a model to calculate the expected number of Twitter followers using the Scikit-Learn, a popular machine learning package in the Python programming language. The model used multiple linear regression to fit the input parameters to the known follower count.

The input data was prepared by removing extreme high outliers in the data which skewed the fit toward high numbers and away from the vast majority of MPs before fitting. Once fitted, an “expected value” of Twitter followers could be calculated for each MP, based on the year of their first election to parliament, the number of years on Twitter and their highest government rank since 2010.

Including more parameters increases the ability of the model to describe the difference between MPs’ follower counts (the variability). By increasing the number of input variables included in the model, more of the variability is captured:

  • One variable captures between 20.3 per cent and 36.1 per cent of the variability.
  • Two variables capture between 39.1 per cent and 43.1 per cent of the variability.
  • All three variables capture 48.7 per cent of the variability.

These three variables are therefore responsible for almost half of the variation between MPs in their follower counts. The remainder of the variability is likely due to a range of factors which the model does not include, of which the MP’s Twitter-savviness is of particular interest to us. I discuss these factors further below.

Limitations in the model

There are multiple other parameters which could be included in future iterations which I did not include in this model. In particular:

  • Membership or Chairmanship of Select Committees.
  • Previous election to a council, assembly, devolved legislature or the European Parliament.
  • Membership of the Privy Council.
  • Government positions prior to 2010.
  • Prominent positions within the Conservative Party, such as the 1922 Committee or European Research Group.
  • Twitter-savviness and effectiveness of their comms team.

Another limitation was not accounting for the perceived relative importance of various governmental departments: a Great Office of State or Prime Minister is scored the same as any other Secretary of State. The difficulties involved in ranking governmental departments were beyond this first model. The length of service in a given government post was also not considered.

Finally, the choice of model to fit the data may not be the optimal choice. Multiple linear regression assumes, per the name, that the distribution is linear. But the large outliers might be better described by a power law or Pareto distribution, or the non-linearities of a neural network.

During next week, ConservativeHome will produce profiles of six individual MPs who have performed notably well in the power rankings, and who reflect the contributions brought by members beyond their ministerial duties, if they have any.