Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The General Election: Who to vote for

After my 'Calling all Political Activists' post, only the Lib Dems rose to task*. Unfortunately, that probably says more about the state of my blog's readership than anything about proponents of any particular political party so it's back to the drawing board for me.

Fortunately, my attention has been drawn to a couple of websites with promising titles with regards to doing the leg work in my quest to find out who I should be voting for in the looming general election:

My attention was drawn to this website by @Dr_Black in my Twitter stream. It's fairly easy to use- you enter your postcode and then answer three sets of questions:

The first involves a series of statements on various issues, and you choose whether you agree, disagree or are open minded. You can skip ones that you're unsure of, don't care about or are undecided on. The statements are short, sweet and simple, but there's no easy way to get further information if (like me) you're a little unclear on many of the policies and promises being bandied about. For example, one of the statements is "Education: University tuition fees should be scrapped." I agree with this in certain circumstances and understand that certain changes would have to be made to afford this. Whether I support it totally would depend on what these changes were. Others that I'm a bit sketchy on would help me out if they included an idea as to what the alternative is.

The second section provides you with a bunch of general issues and you choose the ones that are most important to you. I noticed a conspicuous lack of a 'science & technology' section, which is weird because one of the few things I've picked up about this election is that science appears to be playing a big part**.

Lastly you pick from a list of parties the ones that you would be willing to vote for, missing out any that are a definite no-no.

My matches
My best match was the Green party at 48%, followed by the Liberal Democrats at 44%, the Conservatives at  39% and Labour at 18%. I didn't include UKIP or the BNP in my results because that's just not going to happen. There are links to further information, but I haven't investigated these fully: the biggest reason why I'm using this site in the first place is that I'm politically lazy.

Here's a nifty widget for finding your best matches via VoteMatch. Feel free to comment with your results:
I'd like to see sites much like these that cater for people like me in that they give different statements to agree or disagree with, but also provide an idea of the types of concessions that would have to be made to implement them as well as possible consequences of their implementation. What are the main arguments being made for a specific issue? What are the arguments against? If somebody could paraphrase these issues with this information I would find these websites much, much more helpful.

Who Should You Vote For
This link was brought to my attention, again via Twitter, by @miss_s_b. The idea is much the same as with VoteMatch, but delivered in a slightly different way.

This time you have a page of statements with five radio buttons next to each allowing you to choose your position, from strongly opposed through completely undecided and on to strongly agree. When you've done that they ask for your age and an idea of who you think you'll get as your highest match, then you submit the results and they give you something like this:

Take the Who Should You Vote For? UK General Election quiz
UK Independence8
Liberal Democrat5
You expected: LIB
Your recommendation: Green
Click here for more details about these results

This site gives a bit more information on each statement in the form of hoverable question marks, but they mention each party's stance on each one which strikes me as a decent way of introducing bias into the results (even I have certain prejudices in mind with regards to certain parties. Knowing that one statement is supported by the Tories, for example, may push me slightly further towards disagreeing with it if I would otherwise be on the fence). My advice would be to choose your response and stick to it before looking at the extra info. Again, I would like to have seen some more general, non-party-specific comments on each statement: why's it an issue? What are the main arguments for and against?

And again, there was very little in the way of representation of science and technology policy, and even educational matters get only a fleeting mention. For you this may not matter, but for me they are the two key issues.

So, whilst feeling slightly more clued-up, I'm still undecided and politically virgin-pure. It seems to me that none of the main parties feel particularly strongly about the issues that are most important to me, but I have had the Green party brought to my attention as my possibility.

As always, anyone of any political persuasion is most welcome to contact me in order to tell me why I should vote for your party. Please do NOT tell me why I shouldn't be voting for other parties unless it is directly relevant, i.e. a contrast with your own policies within my stated key issues. Simply telling me that all other party leaders have crap hair will bore me and turn me right off: I covered my main reasons for being bored to death by politics here. Please read it before attempting to convince me to vote for your party!

* Feel free to rectify that, anyone of a Conservative, Labour, Green, hell, even BNP(*) disposition.
** Or is that I've noticed the sci/tech bits because that's what I'm interested in? Cause or effect, I wonder?

(*) We all love a laugh, don't we?