As with the 2017 survey, we made some changes to the categories we used. It’s always a compromise, but our aim is to do what provides the most value for most people.
The changes we made were based upon reading through the manifestos and seeing areas of consistency across parties. The change we made were:
- Renamed Europe / Brexit to Brexit
- Removed Retirement as a category
- Added Transport as a new category
- Split Tax and Benefits into two new categories: Tax, and Welfare & Pensions
There are lots more we’d like to add, such as Communities, Energy, Farming, as well as more giving more detail to the many Rights issues that have good coverage in the manifestos. We’d also like to give more focus to areas like Mental Health and Social Care rather than including them within the broader ‘Health’ category. We could also break up ‘Education’ to show more detail for nursery and primary schools, secondary schools, further education and universities. Revising the approach to how Vote for Policies would helps us address these issues, but that’s for another time now (mainly when we have some funding).
Also as with 2017, we regret that we haven’t added policies from the Northern Ireland parties. This was a huge decision to make, and was down to a combination of factors.
We are still unable to do anything more sophisticated for the devolved countries within the UK. Currently we have the same set of issues for every country despite the fact that responsibility for many issues such as housing, education, health and policing are devolved. This can mean that ‘local’ parties have fewer policies in those categories than parties based in England.
For Northern Ireland however, with all four parties focussed on local / country-specific issues, many of the categories we are using just don’t reflect the manifestos. Sinn Féin don’t actually have a ‘Westminster’ manifesto which obviously has it’s complications, but for those parties that do the difference in categories is quite significant. That’s why this time it seemed all the more clear that creating the survey in the same way wasn’t going to provide much value to voters, or reflect the manifestos accurately. It was a decision we took late in the day, and we offer our apologies to voters from Northern Ireland that we aren’t able to help them this time.
For reasons of transparency (and for those who are interested) we documented our approach for selecting and summarising policies. You can read our methodology here.