Phil Gyford


Tuesday 3 May 2005

PreviousIndexNext First time floating voter

I never thought I’d be a floating voter. I’ve never understood how anyone could be so dithery as to have no idea who to vote for. My family’s always been solid Labour, but when I reached voting age my friend Carl, a Tory, suggested that as I got older I’d probably drift right and see the error of my lefty ways. I didn’t believe him of course — I couldn’t imagine not being Labour. But back then I couldn’t imagine Labour not being Labour.

In the last general election I wasn’t quite a floating voter, despite wavering. I gritted my teeth and voted Labour although I felt dirty afterwards, a feeling that grew as time went on. I marched against the war in Iraq and found myself despairing at the appearance of almost every Labour politician in the media. In the more recent European and local elections I voted a mixture of Green and Labour (Ken for Mayor of London).

And now, here we are, a couple of days from the next election and like most people I know, I’m despairing. It’s not apathy, as I can’t imagine not voting. But the despair of having to make a choice when there’s no correct answer. Despite their headline policies I still believe Labour does much that’s good. But I can’t bring myself to vote for all the people at the top any more. Maybe I should vote Green — I certainly believe environmental issues are far more important than the major parties seem to. But it seems like most Labour defectors are turning to the Liberal Democrats, so maybe there’s something in the party I’d previously thought was far too wishy washy and uncommitted to anything meaningful (apart from proportional representation).

Of course, it’s hard to know how to pick between them all when you only have the parties’ easily-broken promises to judge by. But as that’s all we have, I thought I may as well try the various online test to find my perfect match…

Who Should I Vote For?

Created by “UK creative agency” Thoughtplay, Who Should I Vote For? matches you with a party. Decide whether you agree or disagree with a series of 25 statements such as “UK citizens should be required to possess an ID card containing biometric data” and you’ll be told how the parties match up with your opinions.

This survey suggests I should vote Lib Dem, but the Greens are very close:

  1. Liberal Democrat: 73
  2. Green: 67
  3. Labour: 21
  4. UKIP: -11
  5. Conservative: -44
Political Survey 2005

A wonderfully detailed, and brilliantly clear, survey by Chris Lightfoot which shows where you lie on a couple of left-right axes compared to the rest of the population, by asking you 32 questions. You can see my complete results here.

As the graph below indicates, I’m pretty left on the most important (according to the site) axis, reflecting my views on crime, punishment, Europe, immigration and international law; 93.1% are “significantly” to my right. My closest party match here is the Greens.

A summary of my results from Political Survey 2005

Surprisingly I’m almost dead centre on the other axis, which reflects “public and private involvement in the economy, international trade, redistributive taxation… and Iraq”. This is odd, because I disagree with all of the statements at the top of this page which means I should be at the left end of the spectrum, which would seem more correct to me. Although I guess this means that most people who’ve taken the survey are surprisingly left-wing on the economy. The site suggests UKIP are my closest match… well that isn’t going to happen.

The Public Whip - How They Voted 2005

A quick set of seven questions on different issues from the Public Whip guys. It compares your views with how your MP, and the MPs of other parties, voted to see which most closely matches your view. This suggests I should vote Lib Dem, with whom I have an 88% match. Labour MPs only match me 44% of the time but Conservatives 63% — I suspect this closer match is due to Tories simply voting against the government, rather than with their beliefs. (There are no Green MPs, so they’re not included.)

So, who will I vote for?

Lib Dem and Greens come out top, as I previously thought. The Tories have held my constituency (Cities of London & Westminster) at past elections with a majority of a few thousand over Labour, with Lib Dem a few thousand more behind. The local Lib Dem candidate, Marie-Louise Rossi, says she voted Labour at the last election (fair enough), but was also a Tory councillor for eight years… all that wavering doesn’t endear me to her at all. I could vote for the Parliament Square anti-war protester Brian Haw, although that seems even more single-issue than voting Green. Which may be what I’ll be doing on Thursday.


I get more or less the same on the political survery 2005 site - further to the left on the x axis though (under the t of internationalist, which means I am apparently as left wing as you get). To be expected I guess, living in mainland Europe.

On the other axis, nearly dead centre. Very weird.

Posted by Chris on 3 May 2005, 1:03 pm | Link

The greens are less of a single issue party than you might think: their manifesto covers all sorts of things, from the economy, to crime, to education, to health. And they are pretty much on the left for all of these.


Posted by Frankie Roberto on 3 May 2005, 6:20 pm | Link

Yeah, you're right - that was just my initial gut reaction showing through, even though I realise it's not actually accurate. My fault.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 3 May 2005, 6:23 pm | Link

And if you were in a marginal seat, would that make a difference to your vote? Are you treating this as a protest vote, are you voting AGAINST Labour rather than voting FOR the Lib Dems or Greens?

I can't believe how quiet it has been in this bit of west London. The only political leaflet to come through my door was from the National Front and there are hardly any signs or posters for any of the parties. Labour activists seem demoralised and I can't help feeling that the pollsters have got it wrong again.

I've always voted Labour, this time probably voting Lib Dem in protest against my Labour MP for constituency reasons, and maybe Green in the same day's council elections (or don't they apply to London?). But once I get in the booth I may still vote Labour, because they have done a lot of good things that a Conservative govt would never have done. I think your dilemma is reflected in thousands of other people.

Posted by Glyn on 3 May 2005, 10:36 pm | Link

If I was in a marginal seat it would certainly be a different decision. I like to think I'd still vote for the party that most closely reflects my beliefs, but maybe I'd be swayed. I hope not.

I don't think this is a protest vote - after the last general election I wished I'd had the courage to break with personal tradition and vote for a party that I felt closer to, rather than just voting for Labour again. Labour's changed so much that it's easier for me to make the break now.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 4 May 2005, 9:00 am | Link

I agonised too before voting tactically by post in my key Lab/Con marginal (no prizes for guessing how). I'd have been tempted to vote Green, if it wasn't for their (to me) naive pro-wind'farm', anti-nuclear policies. Having said that, I don't know of any party with a sensible energy policy - which is pretty damn depressing.

Posted by Richard Carter on 4 May 2005, 9:10 pm | Link

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