At the start of the summer, I took the rather-unusual-for-an-MP step of writing to the people I work for - the 80,000 odd people on the electoral register in Croydon Central - to ask how they thought I and the Government were doing. It was just over a year since I had been elected as an MP and I wanted to know which things I had done that people liked and what they thought I should be doing but wasn't.
I've had lots of responses and I've now inputted over a thousand, enough to give a statistically representative sample of the overall response. So what's the verdict?
Well first a caveat. You would expect Conservative supporters to be more likely to respond to a survey from me than the average elector and that does indeed appear to have been the case with just under 50% of the surveys I have inputted being from Conservative supporters compared with a Conservative share of the vote at the last election of just under 40%. As a result, the figures below are probably skewed slightly in my and the Government's favour - not by a lot but by enough to be worth noting.
In terms of satisfaction with the job I am doing as an MP, the results were as follows:
32% very satisfied
32% fairly satisfied
3% fairly dissatisfied
3% very dissatisfied
3% didn't answer
That gives a net satisfaction rating (very or fairly satisfied minus very or fairly dissatisfied) of +58. Even among Labour supporters, as many people were satisfied with my performance as dissatisfied. I'm obviously pleased people appreciate the work I am doing but I want to do a better job still. Despite my being criticised in some quarters for delivering too much literature, quite a few of those who had a neutral opinion said they don't hear enough from me about what I am doing so my focus over the next year will be on addressing that.
When it came to who would make the best Prime Minister, David Cameron wiped the floor with Ed Miliband by 62.6% to 8.8% (the second most popular option with 25.8% was ‘none of the above’). Pretty clear evidence that Labour chose the wrong Leader with Ed polling well below the Labour vote.
Interestingly many key Government policies were considerably more popular than the Government itself:
• 64.1% agreed that we need to deal with the deficit quickly;
• 76.9% agreed that, provided it doesn’t cost any more, NHS patients should be able to choose where they get treated, including at private hospitals;
• 78.1% agreed that net migration should be reduced from the hundreds of thousands a year under Labour to tens of thousands; and
• 80.5% agreed that no family should receive more in benefits than what the average family earns.
This suggests that the barrier to more people voting Conservative isn’t specific policies but the party's brand – people’s perception of our values and underlying motivation. David Cameron has done a lot to improve that but there is clearly more work to be done.
The only exception in terms of widespread public support for key Government policies was the overseas aid policy. 46.0% disagreed with increasing spending in this area, with 35.3% agreeing. Personally, I think the Government is right to do this, not just from a moral standpoint but also because improving conditions in the developing world will reduce the numbers of people looking to emigrate to this country. However, clearly many of my constituents don’t agree and I will be drawing this to the attention of the Prime Minister.
Could I end by thanking all those who took the time to reply. I will be spending the next few weeks sending individual replies.