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SMS enhancing political knowledge and decision in the
UK, but public still excited by ‘Tony trivia’ and Conservatives’ beards

British voters are forming political opinions and making voting decisions
for the forthcoming general election using SMS. Text-messaging service
82ASK, which aims to answer just about any question, on any subject, has
seen a 61 per cent rise in questions about policies, political views, how to
vote and Conservatives’ beards since the election was confirmed.

Questions vary greatly but the majority, 35 per cent, have been about who is
going to win the general election, followed by specific party policies such
as health and public transport, amongst others, at 20 per cent. Questions
about the election also figure highly at 14 per cent, and these include
examples such as: ‘How do I apply for a postal vote in the general election?
’(1) , ‘Can people from Gibraltar vote in the UK elections?’(2) , and ‘Is
there a spending limit for election campaigns?’(3) .

A significant amount of ‘Tony trivia’ has already been asked. For example,
‘What is Tony Blair’s annual salary?’(4), ‘What is Tony Blair’s Disney
nickname?’(5), ‘What is Tony Blair’s inside leg measurement?’(6), ‘How long
have Tony Blair and Cherie been married?’(7), ‘What is Tony Blair’s
favourite TV programme?'(8) and ‘Who would win a street fight between Tony
Blair and George Bush?’(9). Other trivia has also intrigued people with
questions arising such as: ‘Which recent Conservative MPs have beards?’(10)
, and ‘What percentage of Prime Ministers went to Oxford or Cambridge

With a wealth of voting options to choose from, the majority of the great
British public is having to make decisions on a range of different political
views and policies, as well as get on with its own life. Many people don’t
want a political lecture in answer to a question, or to seem uninformed on
the big issues, or simply need back up when involved in political
discussions in the pub and have been using 82ASK to gain information.

Politics is a particularly challenging subject for first-time voters, the
biggest users of text. A recent YouGov survey (March 2005) found that half
of the young people (aged 18-24) surveyed claimed not to know what a
constituency is. However, 74 per cent professed to be interested in public

Sarah McVittie at 82ASK said: “So many people feel that they should be more
informed about politics, or feel that they don’t really know what they are
voting for. SMS enables them to get information in a summarised fashion,
which they can use to form their decisions or will help guide them to seek
further information.

“We expect significant rises in the number of questions asked as we move
towards the election and our researchers are gearing up in order that we can
help drive up the number of people voting at the election.”


Answers to 82ASK customer questions

(1) 82ASK: You can download a postal vote form from
or you can call your local council and they will send one to you.
(2)82ASK: As an overseas territory, people from
Gibraltar (registered in UK) can vote in UK elections but deadline for
voting in 5th May general election was March 11th 2005
(3)82ASK: England: parties are allowed to spend £810,000 in total, or
£30,000 per constituency contested, whichever is greater. Figures differ for
Scotland and Wales.
(4)82ASK: Prime Minister Tony Blair has just received a pay rise of
£5,000 which will make his annual salary rise from £178,922 to £183,932 from
April 1st.
(5)82ASK: Tony Blair’s Disney nickname is Bambi
(6)82ASK: Public info. about Tony Blair's inside leg measurement is not
available, but average inside leg of person 5ft 11 to 6ft 1 is 32 inches. We
also found a Blair look-alike who has an inside leg of 32 inches, so looks
likely will be roughly this.
(7)82ASK: Tony Blair marred Cherie Booth on 29th of March 1980. They met
whilst both were trainee lawyers at the chambers of future Lord Chancellor
Derry Irvine.
(8)82ASK: Tony Blair has said that Coronation Street is one of his
favourite TV shows, but is a ‘huge fan’ of The Simpsons
(9)82ASK: Results of a recent internet poll 'Who would win a fight
between George W Bush and Tony Blair?' were: 56.25 percent said George W
Bush would beat Tony Blair compared to 43.75 percent who think Tony would
(10)82ASK: John Randall MP (Uxbridge) is the only one out of 162 current
Conservative Members of Parliament that has a beard.
(11)82ASK: Of the 51 Prime Ministers to date, 37 studied at Oxbridge

Editor’s notes

82ASK is a service of re5ult Limited, a privately held company formed in
2003 and backed by founders Sarah McVittie and Thomas Roberts. Users text
tricky questions to 82275 (82ASK) and are texted back with accurate and
timely answers. 82ASK works via a combination of smart people and clever
technology. Intelligent, trained ‘text-perts’ answer questions using a
mixture of proprietary databases, the internet and external sources. The
customer pays only £1 for the correct answer, allowing text-perts to clarify
answers at no extra charge.

Further information

David Pincott/Alex Crawshaw/Kate Bonner, Pirate Communications

Tel: +44 20 7297 3350/07866 261198

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Pirate Communications in the following categories: Consumer Technology, for more information visit