FEATURE10 August 2018

Facing facts: can promise tracking hold governments to account?

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A research paper produced by two UK students has outlined how the concept of ‘promise tracking’ – a means of holding politicians to account over their pledges – could analyse government progress. By Katie McQuater.


Distinguishing truth from fiction has become ever more pressing in the past couple of years. Fake news, a 24-hour news cycle, and a revival of political rhetoric favouring conjecture over fact has led to a climate of distrust and misinformation.

In this muddled quagmire that some have termed a ‘post-truth world’, the role of non-partisan, fact-checking organisations – such as Full Fact – has grown, as people seek truth from falsehood.

Echo chambers, multiple demands on our time and attention, and partisan mainstream media can make it difficult for people to understand what progress has been made on government pledges. To tackle this, two students from the universities of Warwick and Cambridge have produced a research paper outlining a promise-tracking system that they hope could hold politicians to account and identify the progress made on their pledges.

Staying on track

Jordan Urban and Adam Feldman, authors of The Future of Promise Tracking paper, embarked on their research ...