If only people did vote for policies..

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.. and checked how the parties matched up to their views, we'd be doing rather well. The gorgeously-coded Vote For Policies has been running a week or so now, and more than 25,000 people have picked blind from six parties' policy positions - Labour, Tory, LibDem, Green, BNP & UKIP.

Despite the caveat that this is a self-selected group who've visited the website, the headline position is inspiring enough at the top end:

Green: 29.2%
LibDem: 17.9%
Labour: 16.7%
Tory: 15.6%
UKIP: 11%
BNP: 9.5%

And it's not just the Green membership voting - Twitter is full of people who've taken the questionnaire and are surprised about how Green-minded they are (examples 1, 2, 3)

During the week the founders then added breakdowns for the nine policy areas chosen, where obviously there's a lot of Green going on. In fact, we come top on seven out of nine areas, including areas where one might not expect us to: crime, immigration, health & education, for instance. Labour are currently squeaking past us on Europe policy, and the Lib Dems put us into second on the economy.

Last place in each policy area is always the BNP or UKIP (bear in mind it's just policy text people see, so theoretically stripping away preconceptions). On immigration, pleasingly, the BNP have the least popular position, followed by UKIP and the Lib Dems: it transpires these people actually want Britain to welcome immigrants and asylum seekers! 

On democracy (really reform, I suppose), there's another interesting split. There's three generally popular positions: ours, then the LibDems', then Labour's, scoring just over 30% down to just below 25% in that order. Then there are three notably less popular position: the BNP's, the Tories' and UKIP's, from just over 7% to just under 6%. No wonder the public haven't been trusted with a PR referendum yet.

Those positionings in full..

Green. 1st = 7, 2nd = 2
Labour. 1st = 1, 2nd = 2, 3rd = 3, 4th = 2, 5th = 1. 
LibDem. 1st = 1, 2nd = 2, 3rd = 3, 4th = 1, 5th = 2.
Tory. 2nd = 3, 3rd = 1, 4th = 1, 5th = 4.
UKIP. 3rd = 1, 4th = 3, 5th = 2, 6th = 3.
BNP. 3rd = 1, 4th = 2, 6th = 6

Tory strategists will probably like this least - it's pretty clear that, at least as far as respondents to this questionnaire go, their actual policies aren't very attractive. On crime, education and health, though, I'm sure they'll be pleased to be ahead of Labour and the Lib Dems, even if behind us on all three issues.

Leaving aside the partisan pleasures these numbers afford, it reinforces one obvious thing: people clearly don't vote on policies, otherwise we'd have won already. It's a mix of other factors like personality, narrative and visibility. We need to work harder on visibility in particular, and we need to avoid the temptation of publishing leaflets which are just laundry-lists of these policies to woo people. That's not the lesson of this exercise.

So go do the survey if you haven't. You may be surprised: I wasn't.


I'd like to agree with you - but I suspect that the audience of people who're both sufficiently engaged in online discussions of politics to know about the VfP test and sufficiently bothered to spend five minutes taking it is rather different from the population as a whole.

FB and Twitter both skew young-ish, well-educated and liberal to start with (and the Greens definitely have the most liberal social policies), even before you get onto the point that the more politically aware someone is, the less likely they are to hold populist hang-em, flog-em, send-em-home views.

(as a secondary point, I came out as Green on the VfP test but wouldn't vote for you guys, other than tactically if you were running the Tories into second place - sorry, but I still believe economic policy should be based on economic growth, rather than the opposite, and that trumps all your social good stuff...)

Hi John,
I agree absolutely about the bias: I'm not suggesting it's a balanced sample, and I thought I'd been clear about that.

It's certainly showing a lot of people that they're Greener than they think, though, even if plenty of those aren't voting for us this time, or indeed ever.


Now a Lib Dem/Green coalition for a fair, sustainable, green recovery out of this recession I could live with. Bring it on!

The main reason the green party is coming out on top of the VfP survey is that their policy wording is crisp, clear, clean and easily understood. If every policy in the survey was re-written in the same style I think you'd see a very different result.

I decided to have a go at this policy thing and came out predominantly LibDem with Green being second. It was a good test as I usually vote Lib Dem in the GE and Green in local. I think the reason most people don't vote for who they want in terms of policies is because they feel its wasted as the following for LibDem and Green's isn't enough to get them in! how do we change this and get away from the commercial spin doctor stuff from Lab and Cons?

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