General Election 2015: Web developers collecting the CVs of every candidate standing

The pair have have so far managed to gather more than 300 candidates’ CVs, all of which are now available to view on their DemocracyClub website

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Two dedicated web developers are on a mission to collect the CVs of every candidate standing in next month’s general election – and some of the submissions would leave job recruiters spluttering into their coffee.

Francis Irving and Julian Todd, two Liverpool-based computer programmers, hope that when their database is complete, voters will be able to easily compare the skills of Britain’s future parliamentarians, introducing a measure of objectivity to an arena dominated by spin.

The pair have spent “every spare hour” on the project and have so far managed to gather more than 300 candidates’ CVs, all of which are now available to view on their DemocracyClub website.

Although Mr Irving and Mr Todd still have some way to go before all the people vying for the UK’s 650 constituencies are represented, the site is only a month old and they are hopeful that they will be at least halfway to their goal by the time the nation heads to the polls on 7 May.

 

“You have to write a CV to apply to Starbucks – so why wouldn’t you at least have to do that to become an MP?” said Mr Irving, part of the team which set up TheyWorkForYou.com, which tracks how MPs vote. “At the moment, you apply to your party to become an MP, and I feel like that’s not really democratic. They ought to directly apply to the public as well.”

He added that while he did not expect voters to make a decision based purely on a candidate’s previous qualifications, a CV allowed them to study the facts instead of being distracted by the cut and thrust of a general election campaign.

“Generally we tend to look at national media news and things that are quite manipulated, such as election leaflets,” he added.

“As voters, I want us to look more at other stuff. It’s not that I think a CV is the only thing we should look at, but it’s a very useful source of information which everyone understands, because we’ve all had to write one at some stage.”

Some of the candidates’ CVs are smartly bullet pointed – but others leave much to be desired. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith submitted six bland paragraphs, while Nick Clegg’s had to be scanned from an election leaflet by a constituent. Labour’s Sir Gerald Kaufman sent in five paragraphs on heavily creased paper.

And while many candidates have praised the pair’s project and have responded to their request for a CV swiftly, others have ignored it or claimed that they do not have time.

One Socialist Party candidate in Brighton declined to offer one, writing: “It’s what I stand for, not what I have done for a living that matters.”

A Ukip candidate in Essex also declined, claiming: “I haven’t needed nor had one for over 25 years.”

Mr Todd said it appeared that some candidates felt “entitled to their jobs once they’ve been selected”. But he added: “Drawing up your CV is a reduction of your life to the bare-bone facts.”

He said that in his view, the candidates should “behave as though they are part of the jobs market”, and “visibly subject themselves to the whims and brutal deliberation” of the electorate. “That’s the game these days, and it’s morally right that they play it,” he added.

They do what? The varied CVs of prospective MPs

Jonathan Wallace (Liberal Democrats, Blaydon)

A glitzy five-page document with the candidate posing with large vegetables. He gave up his job six years ago to grow all his own food. Key Details reveals: “His father taught him jam and preserve making when he was 10.”

Alasdair de Voil (Monster Raving Loony Party, Oxford East)

One might expect a candidate from the party founded by Screaming Lord Sutch not to have a CV at all. But Mr de Voil’s submission soberly presents him as a “marketing and education specialist” who is fluent in French.

Beki Adam (Independent , Mid Sussex)

Ms Adam, who has had stints as a Top Gear presenter and a Buddhist nun, tells us: “The greatest challenges in the 21st century are to stop corruption of governments by massive corporations, and to ensure positive mental health.”

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