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I asked a question at the ScraperWiki presentation but was not very happy with the answer. So I asked it again by email. I was worried by what I heard about expressing numerically how individual MPs voted. If I vote today against the Iraq war, but miss tomorrow’s vote, am I 50% in favour of it?  I don’t think so.


Mary Smith MP votes against British troops being committed to war in Iraq, but is outvoted, and the invasion of Iraq begins,

Subsequently  measures come before parliament which give effect to the decision made to participate.

She casts her vote on a case by case basis, given that the decision in principle has been made.

Does  her support for  some such measures “water down” her opposition to the war in principle in the eyes of those rating her performance at mysociety?

If they do, then I have a problem with your methodology.

REPLY from Julian Todd

It’s possible to undermine any methodology with hypothetical data.

In general it’s political questions rather than operational questions

that get to a vote, so the types of contradictions you are imagining

are rare.

We did originally encounter the problem with the Iraq war votes and

votes to investigate the cause of the war that seemed to weaken the

Tory position of being strongly in favour. But this was solved by

splitting it into two distinct policies:

One is for the initial invasion:


The other is for later investigation of the war:


FINALLY: my comment.  A tad defensive, I think.