This election help us make politics more transparent, engaging and accessible.
54% of people rate themselves as not ‘knowing very much’ or ‘nothing at all’ about the UK Parliament and 30% of people say they never discuss politics and government*. We are trying to change that.
Since launching just before the 2015 general election, over 80,000 people have used Fantasy Frontbench and in doing so have hopefully gained a better understanding of where politicians and political parties stand on key policy issues. We’ve also been featured by BBC 2’s Daily Politics show, The Times Red Box, the Times Educational Supplement (online), and The Democratic Society, who described it as ‘one of the most fun and engaging formats we’ve seen’.
A twist on the popular fantasy football concept, users create their own dream cabinet of 22 ministers, sorting and selecting them on key parameters such as education and experience, as well as how they have voted in Parliament on major issues like NHS reform, Brexit, and Trident. Once selected, they are given a graphical breakdown of the data and are able to share and debate their selections via social media. By presenting what is usually dry political information in this way we’ve found we can engage people in politics that wouldn’t normally be interested.
At this election, we want to make our site even more useful to people when deciding which politicians and parties most closely align with their values. That’s why we are launching ‘Political Matchmaker’, a new tool that will allow you to answer where you stand on the same key issues voted on by MPs in Parliament e.g. NHS reform, updating trident, climate change prevention measures etc. Once you have indicated how strongly for and against each issue you are, we will compare your answers with how MPs have actually voted and show which MPs you are most and least similar to, as well as how you compare to the parties as a whole. If you put in your postcode, you will also be able to see how similar you are to your local MP.
The white noise generated by politicians from all sides and amplified by the media makes it almost impossible for voters to know where our leading politicians stand on the most fundamental of issues. With the rise of ‘fake news’ and targeted advertising on social media, now more than ever it is important that the public has access to independent, unbiased political information.
Please help us engage even more people, encouraging them to vote and empowering them to make an informed decision in the voting booth.
How we differ from other voter advice applications
We all know that you can’t always rely on what politicians say. That’s why we encourage people to use Fantasy Frontbench to judge politicians on what they have done, that is to say, how they have voted on key issues in Parliament.
Unlike other Voter Advice Applications (VAAs), Fantasy Frontbench does not focus on manifesto pledges or promises made during the campaign. Instead it encourages you to compare politicians on their voting record and think about the issues that matter most to you. This should lead you to see which politicians and political parties most closely share your values, allowing you to make an informed decision on polling day. We are not saying that you shouldn’t use these other tools, we think they are very useful. We’re just saying that as far as we know Fantasy Frontbench provides a unique way to compare how MPs and parties have actually voted on the most important issues.
Who we are
We are a non-profit organisation that relies on the efforts of a small team of dedicated volunteers who are committed to making politics more engaging and accessible to the general public, particularly young people.
We are politically non-partisan and do not take any money from advertisers, sponsors or those with political agendas. This is one of our core values and we feel our independence is why people trust us. The only downside to this is that it makes raising funds very difficult. That’s why we have to ask good folk like yourselves to help out every now and then.
Our three key aims are to:
- Engage those intimidated by or uninterested in politics and traditional political media, raising their understanding and as a result increasing their likelihood to vote
- Inspire political discourse and spark public debate through the sharing nature of the tool
- Empower voters by presenting political information in a format that is familiar and understandable, allowing voters to confidently make an informed decision in the voting booth
Since 2017, University College London (UCL) Public Policy have been our official academic partner. They provide us with expert academic advice to ensure at all times the information we provide is as accurate as possible.
How your money will help
Your kind donations will help us keep the site running over the election, as well as enable us to launch a host of new features included the Political Matchmaker mentioned in the introduction.
- Political Matchmaker: how often have you heard people state that ‘all politicians are the same’. Our new tool makes a very strong argument that this is not the case. It will allow you to indicate how strongly for and against you are the policy issues featured on the site e.g. Equal Gay Rights, UK Membership of the EU, Updating Trident etc. Matchmaker will then compare your data with all 650 MPs and tell you which MPs you are most similar to, as well as how you compare to the parties as a whole. If you enter your postcode, it will also tell you how similar you are to your local MP. We believe this tool will give people key insights into which parties their values most align with.
- Whole party comparison tool: currently the site allows you to compare individual MPs on how they have voted on key policy issues. We plan to introduce a new tool which will allow you to compare how parties have voted as a whole.
- New graphs and charts: for quite some time we’ve wanted to add additional options for viewing the voting data. We can’t think of a better time to implement this than an election!
Keeping the lights on (i.e. ongoing costs)
- Server costs and site maintenance: at the 2017 election, at times we were getting over 1000 new users per hour. To ensure we can keep the site running when traffic is high, we need to be confident we have the funds to ensure our servers are up to the job.
- Data updates: following the election, we need to update the site with all of the new MPs. This takes a lot of dedicated research and time by our developers.
- General administration: running a volunteer organisation like Fantasy Frontbench isn't too expensive. We try to keep it as cheap as possible but we do have some general administrative costs that need to be covered.
- Election marketing: we’ve always had a lot of success through word of mouth, however around an election if we dedicate some funds to marketing the site via social media and print we can reach even more people, and hopefully help them come to an informed decision on polling day. We’d also like to create a brand new animated video which explains the site to schoolchildren (many teachers use the site and our schools resources to explain the process of politics).
In order to get the site ready, add these features and promote them, we need to move quickly. So if you're interested in supporting the project, please donate now.
Thanks for your support,
The Fantasy Frontbench Team
One last thing...
*Source: Hansard Society Audit of Political Engagement 2019