Can’t decide who to vote for? Let the internet help

It can be hard to navigate party propaganda to see what they’re really offering. This is where online vote-matching tools can help.

'Polling station - way in'

Polling station (way in) by Paul Albertella

The UK general election is so close to call that the parties appear to be falling over themselves with even less grace than usual in their desperate attempts to woo voters. We hear claims and counter claims, bickering and point-scoring, soundbites and rhetoric; and probably more manipulation of media opportunities than in any previous election.

How are voters supposed to see through the fudge and flummery (great on a dessert menu, not so great on a political one) to decide who we really want in charge of our nation? And how are teachers supposed to help students get a clear, unbiased picture of what UK political parties are really offering?

Many people want to pix and mix their own policies rather than settle for a pre-mixed bag of party selections. Maybe, one day, we will be polled directly, online, on each individual policy; however, until then, we have to vote for parties that offer a mixed bag of policies relating to their ideologies.

So, how do we find out which political party makes the most sense to our own preferences? What we need is a political dating-agency: a tool that quizzes us on our policy preferences and matches us to the party with the closest priorities.

And waddayaknow – there are a number of online quizzes that do just that! I’ve picked out four that I think are a bit more fun and do quite a nice job:

From campaign body Bite the Ballot and think-tank Demos.

Vote for Policies
Vote for Policies is an independent not-for-profit run by volunteers.

From independent constitutional reform campaign Unlock Democracy.

My Manifesto
From Birmingham web agency 383Project.

All of them tell you your proximity to the main parties (Conservative, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Ukip).

Most of them give you isolated policies in small bites, so you end up with a bit of a hotchpotch of policies and still have to weigh them all up to decide which party you will vote for.

In this, Vote for Policies’ tool is unique because it shows you real snippets of (anonymised) party manifestos and forces you to whittle them down to the one that you agree with the most. This does make it a little more tedious than the others, but then deciding who to vote for shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Do take all the results with a pinch of salt though, because some broader context is often missing. For example: mymanifesto asks if you’d vote to ‘Waive tuition fees for STEM subjects’. However, in reality this policy is only pledged by Ukip, whose manifesto adds that it will only be available to UK students, and on the condition that they work in the discipline of their degree – and pay tax in the UK – for at least five years after graduating.

Even so, these quizzes are a fun and quick way through the smokescreen of party propaganda to get a better idea of which policies match your own political priorities.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

One thought on “Can’t decide who to vote for? Let the internet help

  1. I have an interest in politics (big and little P) and think every one should turn out to vote – even if you spoil the ballot paper, at least make the effort – so many in the world can’t! But have not been inclined to download and trawl through the myriad of manifestos. However, I am passionate about education and was relieved to find the N(ational) G(ovs) A (association) have pulled together a brief synopsis of the main parties education policies – interesting reading!

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