Not all promises are equal: towards better promise trackers

Adam Feldman
Jordan Urban

March 19, 2019, 4:30 p.m.
George Marshall Room (Chateau)

Promise trackers are online tools which record the real-world progress of pledges made by politicians.

There is little standardisation in the approach of the several promise trackers in operation around the world, or communication between them. Jordan and Adam use their experience of creating govtracker.co.uk, alongside that of others who have analysed pledge fulfilment in both the academic and Civic Tech spheres, in order to explore the future of promise tracking.

One key question they look to answer is how each promise should be weighted against each other when assessing government progress. Typically, parties make hundreds of campaign promises but voters hear about very few of them. Some promises are hugely significant to the result of elections; others are hardly mentioned. Despite this, Promise Trackers currently treat all promises equally.

Jordan and Adam describe an experiment they conducted to measure the centrality of promises from the 2017 UK Conservative manifesto, covering 257 policies, to demonstrate the importance of weighting pledges when designing or running a promise tracker. The experiment also has important implications for the way academics and politicians alike understand the democratic mandate.

Slides

Not all promises are equal: towards better promise trackers (Adam Feldman and Jordan Urban, GovTracker UK) from mysociety