They may not have the vote, but the good folks of Paris are more interested in what our government is up to than are the people of Hull.
Let me explain.
Earlier this afternoon I received an answer to a Freedom of Information request made a couple of weeks ago, to the Cabinet Office.
Unsatisfied with the bald figures occasionally promoted on the site (eg.) I wanted to know what has been the total web traffic to number10.gov.uk over the past year, broken down by UK region, and including metrics for; visits, unique visits, bounce rate, time on site, and % of new visits.
The data has been scanned and is presented as a data-unfriendly PDF, rather than the spreadsheet file I asked for, but you can’t have everything.
And so here it is: Traffic to number10.gov.uk
And what does it tell us? Nothing that translates into a general critique of political engagement throughout the country, sadly. This is due in large part to the inconsistencies between the cities and towns represented in the data, and the ways in which population figures are arrived at via our census and estimates – see here, for example. But the figures are undoubtedly interesting, and they raise a number of questions about different parts of the country in isolation.
Some of those questions would include:
- How can Wembley (with a population of around 57,000) account for more unique visits to number10 than the city of Liverpool?
- Is the lower than average engagement of the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish a function of devolution, or evidence of lower engagement in online politics than is the case in England?
- Why do Reading and Salford have such high visitor numbers relative to their population – could it be something to do with the BBC’s presence in these areas? And moreover, does the heavy concentration of media in London have a significant role in (inner) London’s figures?
And then of course, we get to the headline comparison I started with. Politics really has come to something in this country when the government’s principal means of communicating directly with the public receives more traffic from a foreign city (even a capital) than from its 12th largest settlement.