“It’s silly to ignore the personal side of politics,” Matt Morley tells me. He is a 21-year-old history student who is also the founder and CEO of a vote-matching site that launched last week, TickBox.
Since its launch, it has been praised by a motley crew of politicos including Alastair Campbell, Mary Beard, Al Murray and Sarah Brown. Campbell calls it, “an excellent tool to help the digital generation understand, and choose, the policies that will shape the future”.
It differs from other such online programmes like VoteMatch and Vote for Policies by being the only site to provide information about every single candidate from every single party – you put your postcode in at the beginning and it tailors the result to your constituency.
“The others all make it incredibly dry,” says Morley, who has taken a year off his Exeter university course to launch the site. “You can’t ever say it’s just about policy. First you need the charismatic individuals to deliver policy.
“They [the other sites] have institutionalised it [vote-matching], but we’re more suited to the modern age. We’ve got all the candidates on there, and all 130 parties on there. To be democratic you must make it about everyone,” he concludes.
But this is the problem with all vote-matching platforms, including TickBox. No matter how informative they are about policy, how impartial their quiz questions are, the result always boils down to a political party – or a candidate representing a particular political party (unless your answers match a slate of policies put forward by an independent candidate).
And perhaps this applies less so to 21-year-olds, but the majority of people – when they click through to the final page telling them which party best suits them – will have some sort of preconception about each of the political parties. Get Green, think hippies and terrible radio interviews. Get Lib Dems, think vote-losers and Tory stooges. Etc. So Morley is right – you can’t ever say it’s just about policy. But it’s not just about individuals either.