Create your own parliamentary team – Fantasy Frontbench and other Voting Advice Applications

By Agustin Palacio

Who would be in your MP fantasy team? Fantasy Frontbench (FF) is a voting advice app which has been exploring this concept for the last few weeks, in the lead up to the General Election.

Using the tool, users can build a team of 22 politicians based on features such as gender or the university where they studied, but also how he or she voted in Parliament on particular issues.

“I felt as so many people were already familiar with the concept of a ‘dream team’ that it had a real chance of capturing the imagination of people who are not generally interested in politics,” says Project Manager Matthew Smith.

The app not only includes MPs elected in 2010, but also those politicians with high profiles during this campaign, like Natalie Bennett (Green Party candidate) or Nigel Farage (UK Independence Party).

There are also politicians from the smaller parties who have a chance to win their seats.

Smith works as learning technologist at University College London, where he is exploring ways in which information can be presented “in a more interesting and engaging way.”

FF claims to have had 15,000 unique visitors, with the average time spent on the site being roughly 2 minutes.

The 8 volunteer members who run the non-profit project say they are happy with the figures but that a large audience is not their main purpose.

Smith says:

“In my view, even if the site had only helped one person raise their political understanding, the project would have been worthwhile.”

Taking advantage of Voting Advice Applications (VAAs)

According to Smith, this election campaign has been “the first where Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) have reached a level of maturity where their use can no longer be said to be insignificant.”

In fact, FF comes from around 3 data sources which are open to everybody, through which it is possible to get information related to different candidates and issues. Here are those 3, plus some others Smith recommends:

Matthew Smith also recommends Democratic Dashboard:

“The way they have visualised data ranging from share of the vote and past MPs, to forecasts and party spending is truly excellent. A perfect example of the adage ‘simple but effective’.”

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One thought on “Create your own parliamentary team – Fantasy Frontbench and other Voting Advice Applications

  1. Pingback: Data journalism at the 2015 UK General Election: geeks bearing gifts | Online Journalism Blog

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