When he’s not getting turfed out of Dale Farm, Labour MEP Richard Howitt seems to also be the most active of Labour’s MEPs in the European Parliament, at least thanks to one measure discovered using open data from Ron Patz.
The image below shows MEPs according to how many Intergroups in the EP they belong to, with only MEPs belonging to 2 or more groups shown. Intergroups are get-togethers of MEPs to talk about issues of interest the bridge across the political spectrum (the UK equivalents are All Party Groups), although the links on the diagram below show that the Tories (in black) are rather separate from the rest.
Of course this is far from a perfect measure of the level of activity of a MEP, but it does give some impression of the number of causes a politician is actively trying to represent in the EP. Full details of the data can be found at Ron’s blog.
I agree with you that one may have to be careful to read too much into the network given the data that was used to construct it.
As I’ve argued here, it may be more telling to look into data on actual meetings and how active or interlinked MEPs are through these instead of focussing on membership.
What the data used here may still tell is that UK MEPs of similar political affiliation tend to affiliate to similar intergroups. Whether this is related to the nature of intergroups or the processes through which MEPs become a member of these groups cannot be answered by the data.
Very nice graph. I love datablogs!
The thought occurs, though, that this graph doesn’t measure an MEP’s activity so much as their lack of focus. Though we do know of course that Richard is a very hard-working MEP.
The further thought occurs, that most intergroups are pretty much like Facebook groups. Like most APPGs in Westminster. Some have a secretariat and do a lot of work, but most of them don’t – MEPs join just to show they’ve joined, but then never visit them again…
The picture Jon has chosen is already the reduced network where I’ve only kept links that represent a minimum of 2 joint groups. You can see the full network here.
I saw Baroness Ludford at the LibDem Conference and I swear she never stops moving. Spoke at at least a couple of fringes, and debated, and questioned speakers…so I’m glad to see she’s very active in the Parl.
I have to say, impressed by Labour’s connections, seems a busy party. Tories seem to have far fewer and more interlinked?
Although you’ve picked Richard Howitt, I find the position of James Nicholson much more interesting from a network perspective:
While Howitt is a member in 8 groups, Nicholson is, at least in this projection, much more central as he seems to bridge between the Tories and the rest of the UK MEPs by being a member in just 4 groups.
The question is whether these intergroup network roles of Howitt (the active MEP in the centre-left pack) and Nicholson (the broker) translate into their actual roles in the parliamentary process. That’s to be answered by people who know the UK MEPs much better than I do.