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Manifesto comparisons

FROM: Matthew Flint

What NEED does this meet?
A website that gives straightforward comparisons of political parties' manifestos and beliefs.

Many people aren't getting the government they want because they don't really understand political parties' policies or beliefs. Several reasons for this:
1. they are influenced by the views of friends / relatives
2. they might read newspapers that are politically biassed
3. they're influenced more by the "don't vote for the opposition because..." rhetoric rather than the much quieter "vote for us because..." messages from polititians.

What is the APPROACH?
A website to compare the policies / manifestos of the major political parties, with a strict "no bull" rule.

The site will be divided into sections such as Health, Europe, Economy, Crime, Tax, etc, and each major party with have a maximum number of words to describe their policy - the more concise the better.

1. No bull
2. No attacking other parties

An extension might be an online questionairre on Health, Europe, etc. Users should be able to answer a few dozen multiple-choice questions, then the results will tell them how compatible their views are with the major political parties.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
1. Enables users to easily compare political policies / manifestos
2. Helps users decide who to vote for without reading all the manifestos.

What is the COMPETITION?
None that I know if...

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Technically, it's not difficult at all. The hard part would be getting the content and keeping it up to date.

If I were doing it, I'd approach each major party and ask them to nominate someone to keep their policies up to date. This could be an MP, an employee of the party or a volunteer from the party's supporters.

The site would also need someone to moderate all the content.

I've been considering doing this for some time; I'm a programmer, and would be willing to do it myself if it's not a winner...

November 3, 2003 in Political, Static Information Site | Permalink


Cf. http://www.howtovote.co.uk/

Posted by: Chris Lightfoot at Nov 3, 2003 1:54:40 PM

Sounds perfect to me. I am one of those people who are too busy to read through all the tripe that all the parties
dish out. For the last three General Elections, I haven't voted. This idea would greatly benefit myself and
I imagine, thousands of other busy voters.

Posted by: Paul Robinson at Nov 3, 2003 4:07:30 PM

Last year in the Netherlands, before the election there was a wildly popular site that asked people a number (quite a number) of questions
and also asked them to rate certain categories of things as more, or less important to them. It then gave some fairly intelligent feedback by rating the
parties according to how much you agreed _and_ how much you disagreed with their policies.

In general everyone thought it did a pretty good job, although os mildly more interesting with more than 3 parties and a difference of political opinion being represented.

Posted by: jaap at Nov 4, 2003 1:02:22 AM

This sounds like a good idea.
Would it be ethical to add a feature where by users could select policies from particular parties and the importance of that policy to them to give them an idea of which party would actually suit them best overal, they might be surprised. (would the site be able to offer a feature which can predict which policies will change 2 months after being elected!)

Posted by: Dave at Nov 4, 2003 8:57:16 AM

Perhaps the way to start would be to prepare a taxonomy of political issues. Different countries might have different taxonomies. But interpretation of party platforms into such a taxonomy would best be done by the parties themselves. Otherwise whoever does this might easily -- even inadvertently -- inject bias into the process. (At least with the parties themselves doing this we can rest assured they would be biased, but such might be made self-correcting over the long term).

Posted by: Mike at Nov 5, 2003 5:56:54 PM

This is a great idea. Something similar has been put into place in the US (Dnet - Democracy Net: see link above) to great effect.

An additional feature on this site was that of a grid comparing candidates' views on particular issues. Citizens could send in questions for inclusion on this grid and if a candidate's manifesto did not cover the issue dnet would ask them for a response. Any attempts to dodge the question were clearly listed as a no comment to demonstrate an attempt to sidestep the issue.

Posted by: John Hudson at Nov 7, 2003 10:59:11 AM

Surely it would just need one static homepage:

Policies in manifesto that made it on to statute books:

Conservative: 0
Labour: 0

Posted by: david pook at Jan 28, 2004 2:56:36 PM

I think this is a great idea. Not only would it be a helpful and independent summary for the busy voter, allowing individuals to align with the party that best represents the policy stances that they personally take, it would also be an excellent resource for school children.

I believe that there are soon due to be citizenship lessons (?) taught in schools and as such the site would provide information to them that may ultimately lead to higher turnouts in elections but at least may stimulate more interest in party politics.

Posted by: Chris Shaw at Mar 10, 2004 12:14:00 PM