A politician went “to see” the sea, “to see” what he could see…

So a few weeks ago I produced a tongue-in-cheek-with-a-serious-point post where I ranked MPs by how likely they were to provide citations for facts. It was quite fun and gratifyingly meant I was known to some people before I met them.
Shortly afterwards I was phoned by someone I know who works in politics.  Part of his role was social media and he wanted to know if he was imagining the tendency of MPs to provide tweets of this form:



If you work in politics, you don’t know many people who understand regular expressions (link to labour list) so I got the call.  I used the same dataset as I did for the citations – there was no point re-spidering for this sort of ’non time critical’ task, plus it meant that I wouldn’t have to add a repo if something interesting turned up.
First of all, in many cases, my friend wasn’t imagining it.  Step forward Andrew Selous MP,  the Conservative MP for South West Bedfordshire. A staggering  18% of his tweets of the classic “to see” format.
Now – there’s nothing wrong with that formation – in fact I quite like it-  it’s a useful format to showcase (in most cases) good work being done in your area.  Here’s the interesting bit.
When I did the citation ranking it was clear that there was no difference between the parties.  All three where represented at both the top and the bottom.  In general MPs where equally bad at citing, you know, evidence.
On the other hand, when you look up the particular structure they use… this is what happens.  Here are the top 30 users of the “to see” tweet formation.
Rank TwitterId Name Tweets “To See” Percent to see
1 @Andrew_SelousMP Andrew Selous MP 651 117 18% Conservative
2 @JackLoprestiMP Jack Lopresti MP 192 32 17% Conservative
3 @RobinWalkerMP Robin Walker 339 41 12% Conservative
4 @CrockartMP Mike Crockart MP 588 59 10% Lib Dem
5 @edvaizey Ed Vaizey 424 42 10% Conservative
6 @MarkLancasterMP Mark Lancaster MP 696 60 9% Conservative
7 @DavidRutleyMP David Rutley 509 42 8% Conservative
8 @BrandonLewis Brandon Lewis MP 615 50 8% Conservative
9 @SarahNewtonMP Sarah Newton 420 34 8% Conservative
10 @JakeBerryMP Jake Berry 557 44 8% Conservative
11 @DLidington David Lidington MP 219 17 8% Conservative
12 @RobertBuckland Robert Buckland MP 288 21 7% Conservative
13 @sheryllmurray Sheryll Murray MP 733 52 7% Conservative
14 @NickyMorgan01 Nicky Morgan MP 564 40 7% Conservative
15 @SCrabbMP Stephen Crabb MP 452 30 7% Conservative
16 @ChrisWhite_MP Chris White MP 395 26 7% Conservative
17 @HelenGrantMP Helen Grant MP 699 45 6% Conservative
18 @karen__bradley Karen Bradley 406 26 6% Conservative
19 @nickhurdmp Nick Hurd MP 441 28 6% Conservative
20 @TobiasEllwoodMP Tobias Ellwood 474 30 6% Conservative
21 @StocktonNorth Alex Cunningham 166 10 6% Labour
22 @George_Osborne George Osborne 871 52 6% Conservative
23 @AlunCairns Alun Cairns 388 23 6% Conservative
24 @MingCampbellMP Ming Campbell 17 1 6% Lib Dem
25 @karlmccartney Karl McCartney 210 12 6% Conservative
26 @pauluppalmp Paul Uppal 623 35 6% Conservative
27 @PhilipDavies422 Philip Davies 109 6 6% Conservative
28 @GBirtwistle_MP Gordon Birtwistle 656 36 5% Lib Dem
29 @JustineGreening Justine Greening 604 33 5% Conservative
30 @cj_dinenage caroline dinenage mp 386 21 5% Conservative
Alex Cunningham looking a little lonely as literally the only Labour MP in the top 30.
Which is bizarre, improbable, and fascinating. I can’t imagine that anyone would change their vote on the basis of this but I have to wonder why it occurs?   The most obvious option is that this is the textbook example taught in Conservative Social Media Training, and what we are seeing in people tweeting the party line as hard as they can…
Any ideas?

3 thoughts on “A politician went “to see” the sea, “to see” what he could see…

    • I think that’s something that should happen – I know there are some cool visualisations that could be done – I was wary of giving this too much time though – it’s mostly a bit of fun 🙂

      • Yes, Joe and SJGKnight:

        it is a lot of fun.

        Joe: could you try “to hear”; “to taste”; “to smell”; “to touch”?

        Or other cognates of “see”?

        So the average is something like 6%-10%, with outliers like that 18% to see guy. And 30-50 in “to see” numbers.

        And it’s good for sentiment analysis: see the “good” and “dreadful”.

        In the legal system “see” is used all the time for citations and related material.

Leave a Reply