Behind the scenes of: ‘How do you compare with Theresa May?’

Behind the scenes of: ‘How do you compare with Theresa May?’

2016-07-13_12-42-16How do you compare with Theresa May?‘ is a new collection of questions we launched yesterday. In this post I aim to explain how we went about creating it, some of the challenges doing so poses and how we plan to answer those.

What we did

To create the collection ‘How do you compare with Theresa May?‘ we researched May’s public statements across the media, her Parliamentary voting record and leadership campaign website.

When we were satisfied we had enough concrete material we set up a profile PoliciesofTheresaMay to represent her. Should May join Represent, we will hand over the account details and change the user name so that she, or her team, can represent herself.

We then selected existing, relevant questions from Represent that we could clearly answer based on this research. For example, how May has voted on fox hunting and on Trident. Where applicable we added questions to Represent that weren’t currently in our database but were widely pertinent. This included the question ‘Taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilised society‘, which was part of May’s leadership launch speech.

Using these questions, plus a few we thought people would be interested in more widely, we created the collection.

Challenges

There are difficulties in taking this approach:

  • to make a quiz interesting you cannot make it too long – so it can’t be fully comprehensive
  • voting records reflect what an MP thought in the past and not necessarily what they currently think
  • when voting in Parliament, an MP often will vote with their political party rather than voting in line with their own views (see TheyWorkForYou to understand how your MP votes)
  • not all Parliamentary votes are reflected in questions on Represent
  • May herself has been known to prefer getting on with the job to talking to the media – so her personal views are less well documented
  • its research intensive, so, sadly, we can’t do this for every representative
  • ideally, if a representative has joined the site you should be able to compare yourself without the need of a quiz. For example, take a look at the profile of London Assembly member, Sian Berry

What next?

We are examining how we integrate voting record data into Represent for representatives on a more site-wide basis.

Where we can we are approaching political representatives to join Represent. In this instance, we’ve have approached May’s team to see if they would like to manage her profile in the long term. When this happens it not only means the views expressed on the site are of the individual themselves rather than research, but that a genuine dialogue can begin, which is the purpose of Represent.

There are are already a number of representatives who’ve joined, but we’d love your help here to increase that, take a look how on our support pages!

Oh, and if you’d like to know how to make your own collection, it’s very easy, see our how-to guide.

Kathryn Corrick

Digital communications strategist, teacher and open data specialist with an academic background in ethics. Kathryn has been working in and around the web and its impact on civic society for over 15 years, and is particularly interested in how the use of technology and data is changing culture, society, law and democracy.

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