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Frequently Asked Questions

How did you select the parties to compare?

CTP will initially focus on the Scottish Parliament's five political parties elected in 2007. We aim to expand to Welsh and Northern Irish parties. With 18 registered parties in Scotland and 159 across the UK as of February 2011, there are too many to compare on this site but we hope to expand our coverage.

Why have you excluded independent candidates?

Because of the number in any election, and the local nature of their campaigns, it is not possible to include them on this site. However, individuals who commit their time and energy to fighting for constituencies should be commended for their efforts. And we would encourage voters to give independent candidates the same consideration they would give any party candidate. While we focus on national issues, it is important to ask your candidates about their views on local issues that matter.

How did you select the policies to compare?

Every party has multiple policies and each of those has many specific policies. Our starting point is policy areas common to as many parties as possible. As of February 2011, Scottish Labour has the most with 11 policy areas. Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Liberal Democrats list no policies, but do have "campaigns" and "blogs". We only compare "policies" to ensure voters can compare like-for-like. Remember that every party has multiple ideas and proposals on many policy areas, often described in different ways. We encourage voters to look in depth at all party policies to answer the questions you have on specific issues.

Why should I look beyond the main parties when it seems the same ones always win?

The suggestion that you must vote a certain way, or to tell voters in any way that they "cannot vote for party A or B" is contrary to the tenets of democracy. Scotland has twice had Labour-LibDem coalitions, Wesminster currently has a coalition, and most Scottish councils have all manner of combinations of parties. It is your choice who to vote for, and the politicians must work with whatever representation the people decide upon.

Politicians are all the same - why should I bother?

Some parties do broadly agree with others on some policies, but not on all issues. So it is important to examine the policies on party websites and manifestos when published about issues you feel strongly about. The only way to improve democracy is to engage with it - attend meetings/hustings, talk to the candidates in your area, and most importantly, vote. CTP believes everyone should exercise their right to vote - we aim to make it easier to compare the parties to find the representatives you want to vote for.

Who is behind Comparetheparties.co.uk?

CTP was set up by Tristan Stewart-Robertson, reporter/directing editor of Tomorrow.is. He is a Canadian citizen living in the UK since 2001 and voting enthusiastically in each possible election. However, CTP aims to be as politically neutral as possible.