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Dear Would Be Prime Minister - A Challenge From the UK Values Alliance

07/05/2015 11:00 BST | Updated 06/05/2016 10:59 BST

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Your party would have us, the voters, believe that your people, plans and policies have clear and distinctive values at their heart. We are currently unconvinced, and sceptical with good cause.

Here's why.

On the 10th April 2015 the UK Values Alliance launched a nationwide campaign -

'UK GENERAL ELECTION 2015 - A FOCUS ON VALUES'

This was aimed at gaining insight into the top values in the minds of today's parliamentary candidates and their parties.

Our analysis of the responses from that campaign prompts us to ask you four questions on the last day before the polls open:

1. Your party holds the NHS as a priority for funding yet the value health/well-being appears only in the Greens and Lib Dems Party top values. Why is it missing from all candidates' own personal values and the values they would like to see in the wider UK society?

2. When the UK Values Alliance conducted an assessment of the values of people in the UK in 2012, the value 'Family' appeared in their top 10 personal values. However, 'Family/Belonging' appears only once in the Election survey under the Conservatives' Party values. No Labour party candidate that responded selected this value even although 'Family/Belonging' does appear in the Labour Party's manifesto. Does this suggest that most Party candidates are out of touch with the priorities of the people?

3. The value 'Expressiveness/Joy' is amongst the top values candidates would like to see in UK Society. Based on some of the longer descriptions received in responses, this value would seem to relate to valuing transparency and open-communication. Interesting this value does not then appear in either the list of candidates' top Personal or Party values! Why then do you think that voters continue to be frustrated by politicians generally appearing unwilling to answer the actual questions posed?

Please could this be the last election you will take part in where it is run as a 'marketing campaign' and will you encourage politicians to make a conscious decision to move towards values based decision making?

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Background Notes and Detailed Survey Findings

The UK Values Alliance is a collaborative group seeking to promote values in society. Its members are individuals and organisations who are either interested or active in the field of values, whether they are Personal, Organisational or Societal. This group seeks to bring values back to the heart of UK society.

Over 3,500 parliamentary candidates (including all party leaders) across the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland were contacted in the survey. Response rates were very poor, as shown below. Green and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates responded in the highest numbers - around three times the rate of Conservatives or Labour.

Overall Total Response 1.29%

Responses Per Party

Greens 37.8%

Lib Dems 35.6%

Cons 13.3%

Labour 11.1%

UKIP 2.2%

We asked candidates to complete 3 key values related questions:

1. What are your five highest priority/core values as an individual standing to become an MP?

2. What are the five highest priority/core values for your political party?

3. What are the five highest priority/core values you would like to see present in UK society?

The 10 day campaign generated a 1.29% overall response rate. Although this small number of responses may not be reliably generalised to represent what the majority of the candidates in each party might have said, there are a number of noteworthy observations.

1. It was interesting to learn from a number of UKIP candidates that they were unable to complete the UK Values Alliance values survey as it was party policy not to respond to questionnaires. However, a few did mention that they were happy to discuss their values further on the premise they were elected for their constituency.

2. No responses to the questionnaire were received from the SNP, Plaid Cymru or any Northern Ireland parties.

3. Some candidates had to think what was meant by the term 'values'. This may suggest that values are not something political candidates have stopped to consider too often. This lack of clarity raises a question about the legitimacy of politicians passing judgement on the values of others. However, the majority of respondents did make a genuine effort to answer from their own perspective and it was encouraging that is was not a regurgitation of a party line.

4. The values analysis was conducted via Valscan .

This identified that the four main parties Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and the Green share overlapping messages and emotional content throughout their manifestos. So is it any wonder why people make comments like 'they all sound the same to me!'

5. Based on responses received the top priorities across the parties were seen to be:

a. Equity/Rights, meaning they act in ways which demonstrate and encourage the fair and equitable treatment of all people.

b. Equality/Self Determination, meaning they appreciate the equal value of all people and everyone's right to be their own person.

c. Accountability/Ethics, meaning they hold themselves and others accountable to a code of ethics derived from their principles and address the appropriateness of their behaviour in relation to living their values.

To receive full reports from the UK Values Alliance please contact them here.