Monday, 21 December 2009

Know thyself: a guide for the perplexed

Wondering which party to vote for? Help is at hand with the Hunch UK Political Parties quiz.

In its favour:

1) It's short. (In fact, it is as short as the so-called "World's Smallest Political Quiz.")

2. It doesn't just seek to place you on a political spectrum or tell you your ideology. There are already a lot of political tests which do that. Rather, it aims to be a voter guide - to help you discover which party's policies most closely match your views. I cannot recall seeing such a test for British politics before - though several appeared on the internet in 2007 and 2008 to help Americans decide which candidate for the presidency they were closest to.)

3. It gives people a choice of several answers, asking them which is closest to their position, rather than simply asking "Do you agree or disagree with this statement?" I find that when the latter approach is taken, there are sometimes several reasons why someone might disagree with a statement; hence a statement of disagreement doesn't, in and of itself, actually tell anyone anything.

4. It actually includes the Libertarian Party among the parties listed!

5. It seems to work, because it decided that the Libertarian Party was the one for me.

Against it:

1. Several parties which are considerably larger than the Libertarian Party were not included.

2. It lacks sophistication. Not only is it brief, but some of the questions were odd, and the some of the scoring was even odder. (I'm sure that the erudite readers of this blog could design a considerably better test!)

By the way, I must confess that I am a sucker for these kinds of tests, and cannot resist almost taking every one that I encounter. The best of them, in my opinion, is the Political Spectrum Quiz. One of the basic problems of political ideology tests is that they generally use only two axes, which results in gross simplification. (Surely it is ridiculous to suggest that all political ideologies can effectively be reduced to just two axes.) The Political Spectrum Quiz effectively uses four axes.

A good example of the problem of using two axes is found in the Political Survey 2005. It asks good questions, but then chooses two very strange axes to plot the results on, so that the results are almost meaningless. However, they do implicitly acknowledge the difficulty of using only two axes.

The best known, Political Compass, is overrated. It's better than many, but a lot of the questions are odd, or poorly phrased. And it tells me that I am to the left of the 2008 Labour Party. Hmmmm. However, related to this, there is one thing I like about it. It describes Labour as a party of the right, and the BNP as a party of the left. That may be not actually be true, but at least it must annoy the Labour Party. :-)


Ray said...

I like these sort of survey things too, and agree about the political compass. I hadn't seen that Political Survey 2005 before - they do end up with most peculiar axes!

Anonymous said...

I got
#2 English Democrats
#3 Conservative Party
#4 Official Monster Raving Loony
#5 Lib Dem

I do wonder where UKIP went in my results.

Young Mr. Brown said...

I do wonder where UKIP went in my results.

Like I say, some of the scoring is very odd - and, IMHO, inaccurate.

Rob Farrington said...

2: Monster Raving Loony Party

Wha...?!? I agree with the order of LPUK and UKIP, but no idea how the Loonies got in at number two!

Phil Walker said...

2. Conservative
3. Liberal Democrats

Sounds not far off, although I'm not really a natural LPUK supporter. (My perception is that I really ought to be a bit left-wing for a proper libertarian party.) Was the quiz written by a libertarian?

Young Mr. Brown said...

Was the quiz written by a libertarian?

I don't know. My first inclination was to suspect that it was, since a) it included the LPUK, and b) it seemed pretty easy to end up with LPUK in top spot. My sample is small and unrepresentative, but it is still coming up with LPUK at number one more than I would have expected.

But perhaps not. I have tried to guess how my parents would answer the questions, and came up with
1. Liberal Democrats
2. Green Party
3. Labour Party
so it's obviously not too biassed.