You have nothing to lose but your brains

The online election quiz Who should you vote for? has been criticised for its bias towards the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. For the conspiracy theorists, risk-homeostasisisists, tinfoil-hat wearers and other oddballs who cry “fluoride contamination of our political water supply!” from the rooftops, it must come as a disappointment that, if you answer all the questions like Michael Howard would, you come out Tory. And if you answer all the questions like Tony Blair would, you come out Labour. If there’s a sinister third-party force at work there, I’ve yet to find it.

The phrasing of the quiz is probably the least leading of any poll I’ve ever seen, to the credit of the site designers (who, I have to admit, I know personally). I find it very hard to imagine bias creeping in at that stage. It’s a world away from the sort of tripe put out by such as YouGov. Even emotive words such as “freedom” are arguably as neoconservative as they are liberal as they are left-wing. Indeed, there might simply be no bias, except in the sense that three of the five parties are wrong. There can be no meaningful balance of reportage between right and wrong.

People who complete the quiz and complain when their opinions suggest they should vote for the party they weren’t going to vote for…. Words fail me. But I remember Stephen Fry’s incredulousness during Thatcherite Britain, when people would cry “why are all the intellectuals on the left?” If you strip away the bombast and answer some reasonably straightforward questions as honestly as you can, why does it turn out that you should vote Lib Dem? What does that mean?

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