There are lots of different approaches to deciding how to vote, and to the power relation between politicans and you. Here is a list of them (courtesy of Arthur Edwards in Holland, who studies these things). Excuse the posh names for them, just pretend we’re in a university for a paragraph or two.
- Promissory – Voter judges representative on how well they carried out their promises (made in manifesto before last election)
- Anticipatory – Representative acts in a way that he hopes the voter likes, so he is voted for at next election. This opens up the possibility of the representative changing the voters mind.
- Gyroscopic – Based on character, the voter selects an MP from a background, with a biography, that he believes they are likely to act well.
- Surrogate – Representation by somebody you can’t elect. e.g. A congressman who represents all gays.
Of course our beautiful ad-hoc British democratic system flitters shiftily between these categories. And all the crazy kids who spit out new websites faster than you can keep up, have produced lots of ways for you to work out how to vote.
- Political Survey 2005 is based on real opinion poll data, and fancy maths, to genuinely find out the axes of disagreement in UK politics and where you are on them. And they’re not exactly the left/right axes you expect. This isn’t really useful for working out how you should vote, except by telling you which tribe you are in.
- Public Whip’s How They Voted idealistically judges MPs based on how they actually voted in parliament over the last four years. It asks for your view on 7 key controversial issues such as foundation hospitals and identity cards, then compares that to your ex-MP (if they’re standing again) and all the political parties, and tells you which to vote for. (This one is my fault).
- Who Should You Vote For takes stated policy positions of all the parties, asks what you think of them, and then recommends which party you should pick.
- Tactical Voter cynically and very practically tries to get you to vote for a party you don’t like the most. This didn’t work very well for me, as it negatively says in Cambridge tactical voting is pointless. Which appears true from the figures, but the local situation is the Lib Dems stand a small chance even this election.
Comments please, have you tried any of the above, and what did you think of them?