We are Thoughtplay Ltd - a privately held UK company whose accounts are on record at Companies House. More specifically, we are Andrew Chapman and Paul Lenz. In the run up to the 2005 UK General Election we were frustrated by the difficulty with which voters could get a clear view on specific party policies without having to wade through lengthy, tedious manifestos. In response we created whoshouldyouvotefor.com - the first widely used voter comparison site in the world. The quiz was taken by over one million people in the three weeks running up to the election, and was the Hitwise-verified most popular political website in the country. We received press attention in five continents and were interviewed by radio stations are far afield as Japan and Australia. Our US Presidential Election 2008 version was used over 250,000 times despite us having no time to actively promote it. Over the last five years numerous similar sites have been created for elections around the world, driven in part we hope by the success and awareness of our original site.
The aim of this site is to provide voters in the 2010 UK general election with a simple tool to see how the policies of the main parties represent their views. Whilst this site is not pursuing any political agenda we would obviously urge all users to research the issues in greater detail themselves before making their final voting choice
No. We are not members of or activists for any political party or movement. We have not received any payment from any political party, organization or individual to create the site.
Select whether you strongly agree, agree, are neutral, disagree or strongly disagree with each of the statements made. You should only select a 'strongly' option if this is an issue that you care deeply about - we wouldn't expect many users to select more than seven or eight 'strongly' options. You then must select which party you were intending to vote for (or undecided if this is the case or you don't wish to reveal your intentions). The site will then compare your feelings on the statements made against the policy statements of the main. The site will then suggest which party you should vote for based on a points system which scores your result.
Each opinion you give will score between -9 and 9 points each political party, depending on how closely your views reflect theirs. The points for each opinion are totalled, and the party which gets the highest score is the one recommended to you. The number of points allocated to each party for each opinion statement is clearly key to this survey. The allocation of points has been based, wherever possible, on clear policy statements from the parties concerned. For instance the Lib Dems would abolish student tuition fees elected. If you agree strongly with this point, the Lib Dems score 6 points; if you agree, 2 points; disagree, -2 points; disagree strongly -6 points. Where a clear policy statement has does not exist, a judgment is made based on similar policies, speeches or statements of general philosophy. In some instances where an issue seen as key to a party philosophy (e.g. Europe for UKIP) point allocations of 9,3,-3,-9 are used. In other instances where a party shows partial agreement/commitment to a policy issue allocations of 3,1,-1,-3 have been used. The detail of the points allocated for each party for each question can be seen here.
This is an important question and worth responding to in detail:
If you are a private citizen with no connection with a political party, then nothing. Parties are big enough and ugly enough to look after themselves, and if they believe that we have got something wrong (and indeed care sufficiently) then we are sure that they will get in touch. Further to this point, if a political party feels that we are mis-representing them on a particular issue, please would an official party spokesperson contact us directly - via email in the first instance as the origin can be verified - including a contact landline number. We would be happy to discuss with your objection, and how you believe your policy should be represented, provided you are prepared to substantiate the position on the record.
Nothing, nada, zip - as you really should have gathered from the above we are independent and can't be bought. Even if we did try and rig the system it would become immediately obvious as we are completely transparent about the system of points allocation.
We look at a number of different factors when deciding which headline policy areas and questions should be included. Firstly, we look at the monthly IPSOS-MORI polling data which asks adults 'What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today?' This is a fascinating piece of research ? the most recent (March 2010) report can be seen online, along with more detail. In addition we look at the issues that the parties themselves are highlighting as significant in their manifestos and policy statements, and also those issues that they are campaigning most actively on. The individual statements are selected considering these points, but critically ensuring that they are positions on which there is a material difference in stance between the main parties. In many areas (perhaps unsurprisingly) little difference between the parties on many general issues - all of the parties believe that hospitals should be cleaner, there should be more police on the streets, crime should be lower, etc. Rather than assess ability to deliver on promises, we chose specific areas of policy difference between the parties. So, looking again at crime, we ask whether you believe that cannabis should be decriminalised as there is a clear difference between the parties on this item of policy. Another important factor for selection is considering the position of the user - if the person taking the quiz does not have, or is not able to rapidly form, and opinion on the statement then it is not going to get included. For that reason we don't have statements such as 'Britain should have a full opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR)' - frankly not many users are going to know what this practically means or will readily be able to form an opinion on it.
Further comments on the questions... Tax and the Economy: Without a doubt the most important issue in the minds of the electorate, and a point of real difference between the parties. A couple of points on the style of question wording. Governments do not have a limitless pot of money to spend - a government wishing to increase spending in one area will either have to increase taxes or decrease spending in another area. Likewise, a government wishing to cut taxes will have to cut spending, or else increase other taxes. There has been much talk about efficiency savings in the campaign already - but the bottom line is that if even if they do exist, they mean a cut in spending or jobs - to be more efficient you have to spend less or use fewer people. For these reasons, whenever a question is relating to tax or spending we call out the impacts - unless a party has put forward a specific costed trade off - for instance the Lib Dems mansion tax to fund an increase in income tax thresholds. Europe and Immigration: After the economy, immigration is considered to be the most pressing issue in Britain today. Views about Europe have become increasingly less significant overall, but given the passion with which a minority view the subject we felt it only appropriate to include within the statement selection.
On 2005 our statements were based purely on the policy stances of the parties. When it came to running the quiz for the 2008 US Presidential Election it became clear that some areas - particularly those relating the experience of the candidates - were of considerable interest. Experience, responsibility and class are, like it or not, areas which are being widely debated and positioned within the current UK election campaign and we feel it would be remiss not to reflect this.
Yes, this would be likely to give a more accurate voting suggestion and would be fairly simple to code. We did consider this idea but rejected it on the grounds that it would over-complicate the system and put off users. You can show indicate a relative strength of view on issues by selecting strongly agree/disagree where appropriate.
We hope to make a small amount of advertising/affiliate revenue from the site, but this will pretty much just cover our costs (and certainly not cover our time) - we both have 'real' jobs and run Thoughtplay as a side project. Anyone doubting this is free to retrieve our accounts from Companies House and see the low level of our turnover!
Yes, we run the crowd-sourced book recommendation site whatshouldireadnext.com - it generates more than 25,000 recommendations a week and has been used seven million times since we launched it. Why not check it out?