It’s the General Election this Thursday. If you’re still unsure of who to vote for, or are just interested in the event, here are some websites to help you understand the election.
A lot of MPs stood down when the election was called because of the expenses scandal, but if your MP is defending his or her seat, you may want to find out more about them. Typing your postcode into the “Your representative” box at TheyWorkForYou.com will take you to a page for your previous MP where you can find out about their voting record in the House of Commons, their expenses, and more.
To find out who’s standing for election this time round, most online versions of the upmarket newsPapers, plus the BBC, have pages where you can look up your constituency’s profile, the candidates standing and past election results. Try The Guardian constituency guide.
If you’re thinking of voting tactically, you can get an idea of who’s got the best chance winning or of defeating a candidate or party by looking at a betting site like Paddy Power (link takes you straight to the constituency odds page). Remember, though, that betting odds are determined by the betting market, not by expertise.
Manifestos are available free online for the major parties and most of the minor parties as well. Manifestos are statements of proposed policy that a party would implement were it to win the election. Parties are not legally bound to carry out manifesto pledges but governments which stray from them can attract damaging criticism. The level of detail in manifestos tends to be low and in practice, some policies pursued by a party in government will have had no mention in that party’s manifesto. It is not in the interest of parties to provide too much detail for fear of being seen to break promises in government. Nevertheless, below are links to the three big parties’ manifestos:
Wikipedia provides links to the manifestos of most, if not all, nationalist, Ulster and minor parties.
It’s quite possible that the election will result in a “hung” Parliament. This is when the biggest party has no overall majority (i.e. less that half of the total 650 seats). The opinion poll blog UK Polling Report provides a very good description of what might happen in the event of a hung parliament. More than any other blog or news site, UK Polling Report also keeps an eye on and reports on all the poll results that come out in the run-up to election day.
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