Despite last week’s UK media frenzy around manifesto launches, only 18% of Brits have ever read through any party’s manifesto, according to new research.
The study, from digital product and service studio 383, found that fewer than 1 in 5 British adults (18%) have made it to the end of a manifesto published by a UK political party.
The study also found that more than two-fifths of British adults (41%) have never so much as looked at a political party’s manifesto.
Almost half of female respondents (46%) said that they had never read even a part of a manifesto – compared to just over a third of men (36%), suggesting that manifestos are also significantly less likely to make an impact on women than men.
According to 383’s research, 1 in 2 Brits (49%) who have read all or part of a manifesto find sources like newspapers, TV and social media sites more useful for finding out about policies. More than two-fifths of respondents with manifesto-reading experience (41%) offered the opinion that manifestos were too long; this figure rose to 49% amongst 18-24 year olds. 20% of respondents said that the language in the manifestos they had read was too complex or uninteresting. Crucially, only 8% of respondents said that reading part or all of a manifesto had increased their interest in politics. 1 in 4 of the respondents (24%) who had never read so much as a page of a manifesto said that they wouldn’t know where to find such a document.
383 commissioned its research into manifestos from YouGov’s political polling unit to mark the launch of MyManifesto.me, a free web tool it has created in an attempt to help more young people engage with politics.
Users of MyManifesto.me simply specify which political issues interest them the most, and then whether they like or dislike the policies which pop up on cards on the screen; within minutes they can see the political parties they’re most closely aligned with, as well as which elements of the different manifestos resonate with them the most. Characteristically, for 383, the tool has been beautifully designed to put mobile first, squarely targeting younger voters who are increasingly using smartphones as their primary window on the internet.
John Newbold, Co-Founder at 383, commented: “If the medium is the message, then the message that some political parties are sending to voters with their lengthy, jargon-filled manifestos is that they don’t want them to know what their policies actually are. Every person should understand the power behind their vote – that’s why we’ve created MyManifesto.me, a tool that puts all the parties’ policies in one place, in straightforward, non-prejudicial plain English.
“We know from the 2010 election stats that 18-24 year old voters are the most disengaged. Five years on, we know this category is most likely to use this tool mobile first, so that’s how it’s been designed. The political parties all have strong brands – it’s time they started thinking like brands too, delivering useful digital experiences that encourage people to get involved.”