How to decide who to vote for today

Everything you need to know

national

Let’s face it: politics is dull. That’s why so many of you feel disconnected. You feel that you are not represented by those in power, and many of you are unable to relate to any of the political party leaders (except for the #Milifandom, obv).

But this election is important. It’s the closest it’s been in a generation. The difference between the potential governments is huge. And your vote matters. So we’ve translated the main policies of the parties’ manifestos into something quick and easy to read.

Read it. Pick your favourite. And go out today and vote.

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Summary

Be tougher on crime, further devolution, sort the economy, more academies, save the environment, Europe referendum, increase NHS spending, control migration and cap benefits. Keep doing what they’ve been doing, basically. Will likely only be in government with Lib Dem support.

Crime: Toughen prison sentences, give support to victims of crime, scrap the Human Rights Act, strengthen the police to deal with terrorist plots, deal with online extremist propaganda

Democracy: Show how money is being spent, give English MPs a veto over English matters, give new powers and responsibilities to Scotland and Wales

Economy: run a surplus, increase the tax-free Personal Allowance to £12,500 and the 40p Income Tax threshold to £50,000, crack down on tax evasion, invest in infrastructure, create two million new jobs

Education: Zero tolerance for failure in primary schools, turn failing schools into academies, focus on science, create 3 million new apprenticeships, no cap on university places

Environment: Protect precious marine habitats, invest in cleaner air and water, protect our forests, help insulate homes

Europe: Hold an in-out referendum, keep the pound, safeguard British interests, reform the workings of the EU

Foreign policy: Generate new trade, maintain the Armed Forces, spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international development, retain Trident

Health: Increase spending on the NHS so it stays free, ensure GP service 7 days a week, same-day appointment guarantee for over 75s, fight cancer and find a cure for dementia

Immigration: Control migration from the EU, clamp down on illegal immigration and abuse of the Minimum Wage, strengthen border security

Welfare: Cap benefits to £23,000 per household, bring in tax-free childcare, build 200,000 new Starter Homes, help more people onto the housing ladder

Labour_Party

Summary

Scrap the House of Lords, loads more devolution, cut the deficit, increase top tax, increase minimum wage, cut tuition fees, save the environment, reform EU, recruit more doctors, end NHS privatisation and scrap the Bedroom Tax. Bump welfare, increase taxes for the rich and try to balance the budget. Will likely only be in government with SNP support.

Crime: Give locals roles in neighbourhood policing, enforce restorative justice, protect staff who work with the public, fund women’s refuges and Rape Crisis Centres

Democracy: Replace the House of Lords with a Senate, give £30 billion of resources and powers to English city and county regions, give more power to Scotland and Wales, give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote

Economy: Cut the deficit, restore the 50p tax, cut business rates, abolish non-dom status, increase the National Minimum Wage, ban zero-hours contracts, increase numbers of apprenticeships

Education: Introduce a new Technical Baccalaureate for 16 to 18-year-olds, guarantee highly qualified teachers, reduce University tuition fees to £6,000 a year, appoint Directors of School Standards

Environment: Invest in flood prevention, deal with air pollution, protect our forests and wildlife habitats, push for a goal of net zero global emissions, protect animal welfare

Europe: Return Britain to a leadership role in Europe, reform the EU, focus on the single market, not join the Euro, open up EU decision-making

Foreign Policy: Promote LGBT rights and religious freedom, protect the Armed Forces from abuse, push for global targets to tackle inequality

Health: Recruit 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives, guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours, give more priority to mental health, repeal privatisation plans, recruit 5,000 new home-care workers

Immigration: Recruit 1,000 borders staff, introduce stronger controls, introduce full exit checks, keep a cap on workers from outside the EU, ensure migrants will not be able to claim benefits until they have lived here for at least two years

Welfare: Extend free childcare, increase paternity leave and pay, give priority to first time buyers, give security to renters by guaranteeing three-year tenancies, abolish the Bedroom Tax

lib dems

Summary

Reform criminals, decriminalise drugs, scrap House of Lords, introduce Mansion Tax, build houses, free school meals, save the environment, EU referendum, more focus on mental health, tighten benefits laws for migrants and help renters buy their houses. Have indicated they’ll work with the Tories in a coalition.

Crime: Focus on reforming offenders, de-criminalise possession of drugs, give tighter guidance to police doing stop and search, boost police recruitment from minority ethnic groups, train teachers to prevent risk of Female Genital Mutilation

Democracy: Replace the House of Lords with a democratic mandate, £10,000 cap on party political funding, introduce the Single Transferable Vote, give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote

Economy: Reduce debt, introduce a ‘Mansion Tax’, raise the Personal Allowance to at least £12,500, build 300,000 houses a year, invest in transport to promote growth, improve energy efficiency, prioritize small businesses

Education: Increase hours of free childcare, guarantee highly qualified teachers, teach a curriculum of essential skills, give free school meals to all primary school children, expand the variety of apprenticeships offered

Environment: Focus on biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, establish new marine reserves, bring in tough new energy efficiency standards for homes, cut energy bills, reduce waste, incentivise greener travel choices

Europe: Remain committed to the EU, tackle cross border crime, reform the EU, hold an in/out referendum

Foreign Policy: Continue to spend 0.7% of GNI on foreign aid, seek peaceful solutions to conflicts worldwide, act globally to tackle the threats of climate change, aim for global elimination of nuclear weapons

Health: Keep the NHS free, gives equal rights to mental health patients, promote a healthy lifestyle, make GP appointments more available, invest in researching life-threatening diseases, introduce a £250 ‘Carer’s Bonus’

Immigration: Restore full entry and exit border checks, tighten benefit rules for migrants, make Jobseeker’s Allowance conditional on attending English language courses for those whose English is poor

Welfare: Issue warnings before benefit sanctions are applied, support people with disabilities going back to work, reform the spare room subsidy, introduce schemes to help renters own their houses

ukip

Summary

More police, don’t let criminals vote, let people sack MPs, bring in proportional representation, increase Personal Allowance, scrap inheritance tax, bring back grammar schools, make science degrees free, leave the EU, cut foreign aid, more doctors, control immigration, lower benefits cap. Will likely work with the Tories in a coalition.

Crime: Fund more frontline posts for the police, have a zero tolerance approach to FGM and honour killings, refuse to let prisoners have the vote, refuse foreign criminals entry to Britain

Democracy: Give people the power to sack their MPs, English votes for English laws, give more power to the British people on both national and local issues, introduce proportional representation

Economy: Increase Personal Allowance to at least £13,000, increase the 40% tax threshold to £55,000, reduce the foreign aid budget, abolish inheritance tax, increase tax on big corporations

Education: Bring back grammar schools, introduce an Apprenticeship Qualification at GCSE level, make science degrees free for British students

Environment: Protect the Green Belt, prioritise building on brownfield sites, match-fund local environmental capital projects

Europe: Leave the EU, repeal EU legislation, give the Westminster Parliament the final say on laws, take back our seat at the World Trade Organisation

Foreign Policy: Reduce the foreign aid budget to £4 billion, spend 2% of GPD on defence, keep Trident, protect overseas British Territories, look after our war heroes

Health: Ensure the NHS stays free, recruit 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 nurses, 3,000 midwives and additional mental health services, increase availability of GPs, end health tourism

Immigration: Limit and control immigration, take back control of our borders, use work permits to fill skills gaps in the UK job market, immigrants can only claim benefit after paying tax for five years, no amnesty for illegal immigrants

Welfare: Increase Carers Allowance, scrap the bedroom tax, restrict child benefit to the first two children only, lower the cap on benefits

green party

Summary

Educate prisoners, introduce PR, scrap House of Lords, introduce wealth tax, raise minimum wage, scrap tuition fees, replace Ofsted, really save the environment, EU referendum, scrap Trident, increase NHS spending and higher welfare. Will support Labour in a coalition.

Crime: Focus on restorative justice and crime prevention, end targeting of ethnic minorities, fund Women’s Refuges, provide education for prisoners

Democracy: Introduce proportional representation, give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote, recreate the House of Lords as a fully elected body, aspire to a 50:50 Parliament

Economy: End zero hours contracts, create over one million living wage jobs, introduce a wealth tax on the top 1%, crack down on tax avoidance, increase the minimum wage to living wage level

Education: Scrap university tuition fees and write off student debt, increase school funding, remove charitable status from private schools, make sex education compulsory, replace Ofsted with a body of parents, teachers, and locals

Environment: Cut UK emissions of greenhouse gases, ban fracking, phase out coal power and nuclear power, invest in flood defences and building insulation, protect wildlife, reduce the use of pesticides

Europe: Reform the European Union, hold an in-out referendum, support freedom of movement within the European Union

Foreign Policy: Prioritise tackling climate change, cancel Trident, reform the United Nations, increase overseas aid to 1% of GDP, negotiate settlements to world conflict, outlaw torture, protect against terrorism

Health: Keep the NHS free, increase health spending, prioritise mental health, make prescriptions, dentistry, and chiropody free, introduce free social care for the over 65s, promote cycling and walking

Immigration: Reject an open borders approach, remove restrictions on foreign students, offer free English or Welsh language lessons to new immigrants

Welfare: End work-for-benefits programmes, abolish the bedroom tax, keep Housing Benefit for under 25s, support disabled people, double child benefit to £40 a week for every child, pay all pensioners £180 a week, cap rent and provide greater protection for renters

None of the above?

None of that appeals? There is another option. Here’s how to vote none, without it being classed as a protest vote:

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Read more on voting “none” here.

Vote strategically

In some seats, a vote for your second favourite candidate could result in the party you want in government winning overall. The Guardian have produced a guide here for how to vote strategically – take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s a good guide.

Just go out and vote

Head to your polling station and vote. It’ll take less than 10 minutes and will affect you for the next five years. Even Russell Brand wants you to do it.