A new way to decide who to vote for

The folks from www.publicwhip.org.uk have just released a vote-match style website for the Crewe & Nantwich Parliamentary by-election. It serves up a number of different policy questions, and then tells you which party is the best fit for your answers.

As their news release says:

While activists are descending from all corners of the country to Crewe & Nantwich to help with their party’s by-election campaigns, volunteers from the Public Whip today launched an online questionnaire to help people make up their minds about who to vote for. The webpage http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/byelection compares people’s opinions to the way each party has voted in Parliament on a selection of important issues that have been in the news in the last five years. It uses the web-site www.theyworkforyou.com as a source of data …

We want people to remember the bigger issues and ask hard questions of the candidates about how they would vote after they are elected …

We want people to start using the internet more effectively to understand what their MPs are doing and to keep a close watch. Who knows, they might start doing more of what people want them to do, rather than their own thing all the time. That’s our idea of what democracy would look like.

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This entry was posted in News, Online politics and Parliamentary by-elections.


  • But he’s a Tory Toff (TM)! He’s got the hat and everything!

  • Martin Land 16th May '08 - 7:18am

    1. Lib Dem
    2. Conservative
    3. Gwynneth Dunwoody
    4. Official Labour

  • I like the fact that they have found the distinction between us and the Tories on the 10p tax band issue.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th May '08 - 9:34am

    I came out as strongly LibDem, but felt the questions were biased against the government.

    Governments often have to make difficult decisions – people are against the decision, but they would be even more against the alternative. Oppositions don’t always take the approach of criticising those decisions by means of proposing alternatives.

    If one had a survey with a whole range of questions “are you for or against these public expenditure cuts?” people would mostly vote “against”. Then if you had a whole range of questions “are you for or against these tax rises?” people would mostly vote “against”. But governments don’t have the luxury of being able to choose mutually contradictory policies. In many cases the answer to the public’s question “why are you evil people cutting this or not paying for that?” is “because you’re always saying how evil we are for charging you the tax rates we charge”.

  • Seriously though, what sane person could actually support the headline proposals offered by Labour – I mean, even cabinet ministers were campaigning against Post Office closures while voting in favour!

  • In reponse to this comment “However, much as I loathe the Labour Party, I have to say that this measure is slightly unfair to them…. ” I was chatting to Julian Todd (online) one of the main developers of the public whip and responded that ..The first observation about it is that people instinctively hold us to a higher standard than they do for a powerful newspaper, whose reporting we take for granted is systematically biased and doesn’t properly cover the the good deeds done by the party its owner does not support.

    But yes, he’s pointed out an unavoidable bias in the data — that there may be a groundwork of consensus between the parties for which there are no votes; but that these things are put on the table in the first place by there being a Labour government.

    So, while the Conservatives never proposed an FOI act, when the Labour government brought one forward, the Conservatives voted to strengthen it.

    I am also not completely satisfied by having a voting table to determin the party that agrees with you. I’d prefer it to be used so that you can see which policies you disagree with for the party you will vote for, but we’re not at that stage of sophistication.

  • Francis Davey 21st May '08 - 10:32am

    To be fair to Julian, its very difficult to get a set of questions “right”. Its possible to knock up your own analysis of this kind using publicwhip — but most of the public aren’t going to do that. It might be interesting to know if there are suitable objective ways of selecting questions.

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