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I like to think of elections as dysfunctional family parties, and the General Election that is due to take place in the UK on May 7th, 2015, is no different.

Hosting the get-together are the Conservatives, and it’s not going very well.

First to show was the Greens, along with their plus-one, the Liberal Democrats. The Greens turned up with an unappealing looking quinoa and beetroot salad, while the Lib Dems made grand promises to bring the booze, but instead of beer and wine, everyone is drinking dodgy corner-store vodka diluted with cherryade.

Sat in the corner is right-wing, oafish, flatulent Uncle UKIP, who fills the room with a noxious fug of cigarette smoke, and who keeps banging on about his mate Barry from the pub who knows “for definite” all migrants get a free car and microwave when they clandestinely arrive in the UK. Meanwhile, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are hosting their own parties in separate corners of the dining room.

This dinner party is a dud, and the Conservatives won’t stop blaming Labour, who had the misfortune of hosting it last time.

Help Is at Hand

Given the standard of political discourse in the UK, it’s easy to get disillusioned and come to the conclusion that voting is a waste of time. That all the main parties are just as bad as one another, and so you might as well stay at home. The irony is that despite the lack of any compelling choices, it’s never been more important to vote than it is this time.

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A lot is riding on this election, and the outcome will determine everything from the UK’s place in Europe, to the fate of Britain’s public services. But, given the fragmented nature of British politics, you can be forgiven for not knowing who to vote for.

Thankfully, there are a number of websites that exist solely to help undecided voters make up their minds. Here are four of the best for floating voters all across the UK.

Vote for Policies

Vote for Policies believes that people shouldn’t vote for a party simply because that’s how they have traditionally voted, or because they identity with them on some inscrutable level. Instead, they think people should choose their vote based on how closely they agree with a party’s policies above anything else.

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Select the issues that matter to you, and you’ll be asked to choose the policies that you most closely agree with. The more policies you choose, the longer your quiz will take. At the end of the quiz, you’ll be shown a graphical representation of the parties with whom you have more views in common.

Democracy Club CVs

When describing the motivation behind building the Democracy Club CVs project, developer and activist Francis Irving said “I don’t have a fixed idea of what background makes a good MP. I do, however, like the idea… that their background should be representative of their constituents.”

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Who can argue with that? Why shouldn’t we know whether the person legislating on climate change and Internet freedom actually understands those concepts? Over the previous few years in Europe, tech-illiterate politicians have tried introducing Chinese-style Internet censorship Internet Censorship In The UK - Why It Won't Work Internet Censorship In The UK - Why It Won't Work David Cameron's Internet filtering plans have started a stir. The contours of his plans are still not clear, but opinions are being formed as the debate rages across the U.K. and the world. I'm completely... Read More , introducing a ‘snoopers charter’ How Britain's "Snoopers' Charter" Might Affect You How Britain's "Snoopers' Charter" Might Affect You British Prime Minister David Cameron intends to resurrect the "Snooper's Charter", a privacy-breaching set of new measures to enable enhanced monitoring of communications by the security services. Can it be stopped? Read More , and even taxing the Internet by the gigabyte Why Taxing The Internet Is Stupid Why Taxing The Internet Is Stupid This Internet tax is one of a kind. No other government has ever conceived of taxing the Internet. If this law came to your country, what would it mean for consumers and businesses? Read More . All of which are dumb ideas.

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Which is why Francis Irving has been collecting a CV (Curriculum Vitae), for all candidates standing in May. Only a handful of CVs are present, and some CVs simply exist to say that the candidate doesn’t actually have a CV. But those who do provide theirs, offer constituents a window into their academic and professional background.

Failing that, feel free to read our guide to writing the perfect CV Your All-In-One Guide To Building The Perfect Resume Your All-In-One Guide To Building The Perfect Resume Whether you just graduated, are returning to school or are looking for a new job, within or outside your career, you need a resume. But not just a resume. You need a great resume. One... Read More  and critique the candidates in your constituency.

iSideWith

iSideWith is the UK’s largest, most popular voting guide, and has since extended its reach to the US, Australia and India. It’s independent, and has no ties to any particular party.

Similar to Vote for Policies, it asks a series of questions about your viewpoint on a number of key issues. You can also identify issues as being more important to you than others — you might, for example, care about the environment more than you care about immigration.

isidewith-social

Then, everything gets tallied up, and you’re informed what party you are most likely to agree with. Unlike VoteForPolicies, everything is broken down much more closely, and your results are compared with a wider range of political parties.

Unlike Vote for Policies, it breaks down your results into a percentage, rather than a slice on a pie chart. It also breaks down the parties you’re more likely to agree with, based upon specific policy issues. This is handy if you feel strongly about a particular issue.

Political Compass

Political parties are often described as being either left-wing or right-wing. The problem is that parties can be classified as such for many and various reasons beyond their economic policies. The Political Compass takes the left/right paradigm, and adds one more axis to it, evaluating whether a party is libertarian or authoritarian.

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It then asks you a series of questions about your opinions on a number of political, social, and economic matters, and then plots your responses on that compass. The idea being that the party that is plotted closest to you is the one you’re most likely to agree with.

All of the major parties are listed, and the results are carefully explained. You can also see how your party compares to other notable political parties in countries like Australia, the US, Germany and New Zealand.

Has This Helped You Make up Your Mind?

On May 7th, the British people will go to the polls and decide who will be governing the country for the next five years. Some will even take a selfie while they do it Should Governments Ban Ballot Selfies? Should Governments Ban Ballot Selfies? The legality of posting pictures of your completed ballot is a hot topic in the States right now, and it's been discussed in countries all around the world. Read More .

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to cut through the rhetoric, buck-passing, and non-answers to see what each of the seven main parties stand for. The Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, and UKIP all have a lot to gain, and nothing to lose. So, please do choose carefully.

These four websites should help floating voters decide where to put their cross. But what do you think? Did we miss any good websites for undecided voters? Please let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: General Election Voting Hands (Shutterstock)

  1. Youknow Imright
    May 3, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Not voting, is voting. It's the most effective message you can send. Look around you; has voting improved anything during your lifetime? Mine either.

  2. Harry
    May 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Lol. All you plebs without proportional representation. You can't have a fun election without it!

  3. Rob
    April 30, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    As I've said many times before, a considered abstention is nowhere near as lazy as an unconsidered vote. There's no way around that. I've deliberated over whether or not to vote (and who I would vote for) more than ANYONE I know, and decided to abstain. I find it massively insulting and somewhat laughable that this is seen as apathetic, when it's the antithesis. When you rely on a single vote every 4 or 5 years for your political 'activism', compared to NOT voting but spending hours upon hours debating, convincing people, and working on systems OUTSIDE of the current system.... to call affecting politics from the outside 'apathetic' is nonsensical.

  4. Philip Bates
    April 30, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Great article, Matt. I've used the Vote for Policies site, but not fully: instead, I've just used it as a test. But I'm still stumped, so I'm gonna use it PROPERLY over the next week!

  5. Karl
    April 30, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Not voting, by the way, I find a terrible waste of long fought freedoms... "None of the above" could well be the best option to voice a vote of "no confidence"

  6. Karl
    April 30, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Howard clearly lives in the US and with respect our US cousins don't quite appreciate that the centre ground is where most sit in the UK. I'm pretty sure most will vote with their heart for what matters to them, exactly as it should be. They all promise things they never deliver but it's mostly about who one trusts to lie the least, sadly....

  7. Francis
    April 30, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    "So if I have a choice to vote only for the Nazi Party or the Communist Party, I am being apathetic to choose to not vote for either ?"

    What constituency is this? The dark side of the moon?

    I know the greens are standing everywhere as a matter of policy so they can see what percentage of the vote they can command nationally.

    I also know there are several left-leaning anti-austerity parties standing in all sorts of places.

    If you are saying that it's hard to tell the difference between the results of voting for any of the austerity crazed neoconservative apologists, you're right. The Greens may let us down, but on paper aren't one of those parties. So for the first time in forever there is some kind of an anti-establishment choice.

    And "none of the above" is valid; it acknowledges the suffering and sacrifice of the people who fought for the vote, without buying into the same wine in different bottles of the main parties.

  8. Howard Pearce
    April 30, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Left out entirely is the perfectly valid decision to SIMPLY NOT VOTE !!!
    Perhaps this is because Mathew Hughes wants someone elected regardless ... even if they do wear a swastika !!
    Well I will tell people here that deciding not to vote for any of the parties is a PERFECTLY VALID decision.

    Maybe NOTA (None Of The Above) will be added to all ballots to provide a more free election.

    Apart from that I recommend voting for freedom of association and the Libertarian Party if the UK has one.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Howard,

      I say this with love and friendship.

      You are insane.

      Regards,
      Matt

    • Howard Pearce
      April 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      Unfortunately many people said that about a round earth too :)

      But too be honest, I am surprised you won't admit that deciding not to vote is a valid decision. Would you make it a law to vote too ?

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      It's not. It's a cop out. It's apathy. It's not taking part.

      Spoiling your vote, on the other hand? Yeah, I can totally get behind that.

      When I am king, everyone will have to vote, and they'll do so over a network neutral Internet.

    • Howard Pearce
      April 30, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      So if I have a choice to vote only for the Nazi Party or the Communist Party, I am being apathetic to choose to not vote for either ?

      And as for Net Neutrality , Freedom of Communication protects not only the content but the characteristics too ... like tone, volume, speed for speech and font for press.
      That also means speed for internet communication which Net Neutrality clearly violates ! Not to mention dictating who/what sites ISP's MUST COMMUNICATE to others.

    • Philip Bates
      April 30, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      I'll be honest: this election, I've realised why people don't vote. BUT I'd always vote regardless. I think this is partly because I think not doing so is a rather pointless (seriously, no offense intended) way of supposedly rebelling.

      As I say, I do understand why people sickened by current politics don't vote. But we should be proud of our democracy. It's flawed, but so's everything.

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