First time voter - how do you choose?

(20 Posts)
BertieBotts Mon 22-Mar-10 00:51:00

This election will be the first one I can vote in - I was a few months off 18 last time. The problem is I don't know who to vote for. Politics was never discussed in my house when I was growing up, my Mum always votes green and says that she doesn't understand it and none of them deliver anyway. I want to understand it but reading about it etc just confuses me, there is so much that goes over my head.

There just seem to be so many issues to look at - where do you start? How do you choose which issues are more important, what if you like one party's stance on one issue and another's on another issue? And then once you have decided which issues to look at, then how do you tell who is telling the truth about any of it?

I am not looking to be convinced to vote for X or Y or Z. I just want to know how to make the decision for myself. Can anybody help? Oh and if anyone knows of a handy quick guide to political terms/a list of what ministers there are (e.g. I know there is one for education, and some of them have more specific titles) that would be helpful too.

choosyfloosy Mon 22-Mar-10 01:03:37

How about starting with your current local MP? Try they work for you and find out what views they have and how they have voted in the past. Maybe you will see things you like about them, or not.

You could also google the main parties and read their manifestos.

I have to say that I do it mainly by considering which party I feel slightly less like murdering day-to-day blush which is not very thoughtful really.

Best of luck. Would love to hear more of your views as time goes on, I wish I had been as thoughtful as you before I first voted.

BertieBotts Mon 22-Mar-10 01:24:05

That is a good idea choosyfloosy, thanks for the link. I know I have heard good things about our local MP before bringing peoples' issues up etc but I have had a look and I am still finding it difficult to follow. (Possibly a bit late!)

Are the local MPs not elected at a different time? Or is it all related? I am a bit ashamed to admit this but I am not even sure how the voting system actually works.

choosyfloosy Mon 22-Mar-10 01:30:57

sure. Do you know what, the political system is pretty strange.

well, at a general election once every five years or less (date decided by the current government), the queen is asked to dissolve parliament. This means that the parliament has ended and there are no MPs any more, they are all candidates, who are adopted/readopted by their local party members for the election. Therefore we all elect MPs locally at the same time.

However, MPs may leave parliament at other times for their own reasons, or become ill or die or whatever, or be thrown out by the members of their party in their constituency. So then there will be a bye-election in that constituency.

Local councillors (city, county, town or district, depends where you are, sometimes you have more than one level) are elected in a separate process but sometimes the voting happens at the same time as a bye-election or general election.

don't know if that helps at all

BertieBotts Mon 22-Mar-10 12:53:31

Hmm, sort of. I have looked at the wikipedia article for UK elections too, which helped a bit. But I am still not sure I understand, when I vote, who am I voting for? Do all the votes get counted and the party who wins is in charge? Or am I basically voting for my local MP, and then from each constituency (is that the right word? grin) one MP goes to Parliament, and the whole government is made up of a mix, is this what is meant by "Labour has won X seats in Parliament"? - and whoever has the most, that decides who the Prime Minister will be. Does that mean that all the other ministers for things like education, finance, etc, are all reliant on who the PM is as well?

BertieBotts Mon 22-Mar-10 20:33:30

Bump for the evening crowd.

choosyfloosy Mon 22-Mar-10 20:34:20

yy
you are definitely voting for your local mp, and then yes, the government is made up of a mix, whoever has the most, the queen asks the leader to form a government and make themselves PM

(always imagine them saying 'thanks very much, don't mind if i do')

then the PM chooses the ministers

and they are dependent on him or her for their jobs... thereby encouraging independent thought and fiery debate grin

MrsVidic Wed 24-Mar-10 19:28:37

I am the same Bertie- I am torn between voting for the party who will benefit me or voting for the party who will benefit many others IYSWIM.

I was completley convinced on voting tory until I had a nightmare about DP loosing his job and it made me think twice..

TheHeathenOfSuburbia Wed 24-Mar-10 19:51:33

I'd forgotten about that theyworkforyou site; if you type in your postcode it tells you who your MP is, and about five lines below that there is a link to see their voting record, you can see whether you agree or disagree with what they've done in Parliament in your name! Once you've found out who it is, you can give them a quick Google too, see if they've been involved in any notable scandals wink.

Oh - and if the election is the 6th May, there will be local elections at the same time. The General election ballot paper will be a different colour and you just put an X on it. The local might be different depending where you are in the country, but it will have instructions at the top of the paper.

I'm sure there's a site like that 'which religion should I be?' only for politics, will go search for that...

JackSpratt Wed 24-Mar-10 20:04:17

Thanks for the theyworkforyou site link

Am agog at some of the things my local shyster money grabbing MP (who I WAS going to vote for) has been up to.

TheHeathenOfSuburbia Wed 24-Mar-10 20:09:47

Oh, OK, the only ones I have found are left over from 2005, but the parties haven't changed that much I guess:

how2vote actually seems the best, you can choose which are the most important issues so you're not wading through questions forever.
this one directly compares the 2005 policies of the three main parties.

I also found this which explains about parliament, local and Euro elections, how to register to vote etc etc.

LOL at 'local shyster' grin See? Always worth checking!

(Why does yahoo!answers always come so high up my search results, when it's always complete bollocks?!)

Ewe Wed 24-Mar-10 20:21:12

House magazine had a great spread last month on what each different party stood for on the main issues. Will see if I can find a link or copy.

I too am a first time voter and despite the fact I am a politics student I STILL don't know who to vote for! Not that it really matters as I live in one of the strongest Conservative areas in the whole country. You might find this is the situation in your area too, sometimes it feels like your vote doesn't matter but I am still voting regardless as I think it's important but if you are in a marginal seat then your vote really really counts.

Ewe Wed 24-Mar-10 20:29:53

Not sure I can do it in one smooth link but here are a couple of things worth reading, mainly comparative articles/lists...

Education policy

Crime policy

Foreign policy

Economy and business

Health policy

Green policy

Transport policy

How policies may impact women, by the Fawcett Society

That should keep you busy!

BertieBotts Wed 24-Mar-10 20:57:02

Wow those links are all brilliant, thanks everyone

mrsbaldwin Wed 24-Mar-10 21:08:47

No-one said this yet, so I will - you could also watch the TV news (or these big set piece debates they're going to have on TV, between the party leaders, like they do in the US) to see if there is anyone who comes across to you like they are talking more sense than the others. During the election period the BBC etc are obliged to be impartial, so all parties should get an equal hearing.

Happy voting

Strawbezza Thu 25-Mar-10 00:01:44

I've always voted (I'm 44) because I sincerely respect the fact that women died to give me that right. But I usually end up voting tactically, to get a person/party out rather than getting a person/party in.

I've used how2vote in the past, it's very useful.

MrsVidic Thu 25-Mar-10 07:32:26

OMG! I jus found out my local mp who I was going to vote for is pro hunting/ anti gay rights! I'm appalled!

BertieBotts Tue 06-Apr-10 18:41:50

Just a quick bump of this thread now the election date has actually been announced!

For those who wanted an update, I am at the moment swinging towards voting Lib Dem, mainly because their policies seem to make the most sense, but I keep changing my mind. I am coming back to LibDem most often though so that is the way I will probably vote, I think.

anastaisia Tue 06-Apr-10 18:48:54
neume Tue 06-Apr-10 19:02:03

Technically we should vote for the local candidate, but in practice most people chose their vote based on the party. Generally this is what I do, unless the local candidates have some compelling reasons to vote for or against them - eg one year the candidate from my party of choice was an outspoken homophobe, so I spoiled my ballot paper in protest.

My advice would be to think about the issues you care most about...the economy, crime, education, etc and then learn what the different parties have to say about them. Then choose that way. Voting for a wonderful local candidate from a party that is not the one you would normally prefer is OK but their influence could be limited - eg in some constituencies you get single issue candidates who want to represent the people regarding say a local hospital - this is great but you have to ask how influential independents really are in Westminster. (This also goes for smaller parties who are unlikely to actually form the next government.)

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