How far to the left or right of the main parties are you?

When asked what was her greatest achievement, Thatcher famously answered “Tony Blair and New Labour.” The truth of this statement is neatly illustrated by this chart taken from Political Compass:

UK Parties at different times

This is the true impact of Thatcherism. It has been the narrowing of political ideas to such at extent, that on most issues, the main parties are now virtually indistinguishable in outlook. Politics has now been reduced to ‘branding’. David Cameron said this morning “…we are all Thatcherites now”, which didn’t go down well, but in terms of the political class he’s absolutely right. The wider public, not so much.

The knowledge that Labour have drifted to the right is obviously not new, but I think this chart really brings out the transition they have made from a left, slightly libertarian party, to a party almost as wedded to neo-liberalism as the Tories and marginally more authoritarian. For the Tory’s part, for all their efforts to paint Ed Miliband as ‘Red Ed’ and the Labour Party as representing the ‘nanny state’ or the surveillance state, their actual differences in political outlook are superficial at best.

This lack of political choice presents a real problem for voters. Here’s another chart from political compass that shows the political stance of the parties running in the 2010 general election:

UK Political Parties chart

The left-right axis represents economic stance, and all three main parties tended towards neo-liberalism. While Labour and Conservative Parties went into the election with pretty authoritarian manifestos, the Liberal Democrats actually managed to retain some weak libertarian tendencies. The Greens where the only national party in the lower left quadrant.

The media talk of parties seeking to ‘claim the centre ground’, where most voters sit, but if that were true, the ‘centre ground’ is not actually the centre ground at all, but a brand of free market economics twinned with a strong inclination towards authoritarianism.

I find this hard to believe. Voter participation at general elections is falling consistently as the years go by, and those that do vote often vote for the lesser of two (or more) evils. Since voting for the first time in 2001, I’ve voted for Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party, but only once have I voted for someone who I actually wanted to win and who had a chance of winning (he lost). Here’s where I score on the Political Compass test:

From this, I should be voting Green, but they don’t have a chance of winning where I live, so what to do? There are those that think we need a new party of the left and others who think the Labour Party must be pressured into returning to its roots, but whatever the answer, there are a huge number of potential voters who’s views lie to the south-west of where Labour sit at the moment. As it stands, they are relying on there being enough people that either hate the Tories or are disgusted with the Lib Dems to get them over the line, but they could be so much more if they had both the courage and the inclination. Right now, they seem to be lacking in both.

P.S. I’d be interested to know the Political Compass scores of anyone reading this, if you feel willing to share in the comments below (mine was: Economic -8.75; Social -6.82) 🙂 .

30 thoughts on “How far to the left or right of the main parties are you?

  1. I’ve come across this before and the similarity of the main parties really struck me. They have an Irish version and there too, all the parties are cloistered in the top right corner. I personally am in the bottom left corner, though not as low as you are.

  2. Fascinating, Alex!
    I was: Economic Left/Right: -6.88; Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.26
    I had a problem with a few questions where I found myself need to tick a “sometimes” option… :-/

  3. Shockingly liberal lefty – almost off the scale. -9.88 / -7.85.

    Suppose I agree more with the Greens than any other, but haven’t seen a Green party candidate in my area of West Yorks ever.
    Not totally convinced by the Greens, but I think that’s a result of their growing from the Green movement first, and embracing the economic literacy / social consequences later. If they were more forthright with their (on the whole good) economic outlook, it could only serve to provide the much needed alternative.

    1. Wow, that’s dangerously left! Just up the road from me in Saltaire, there’s a little Green enclave where all 3 councillors in the ward are Greens, but other than that, nothing.

      1. Dangerously – I know, I hope it doesn’t conflict too much with my chosen profession (accountant >Finance Director), it doesn’t for me, but some might not see it that way.
        Would be interested to see a comparative to different countries/ govts – when/where was the last successful liberal socialist govt (national or regional).

        1. There’s some results for different countries on the Political Compass website. Very much the same sort of picture as here. The parties on the left tend to be the smaller nationalist parties. Most interesting for me is that in Australia, the ‘Liberal’ party is the most right wing, authoritarian of any main party. I think Francois Hollande is the only major leader in the bottom left quadrant, but I suspect he won’t remain there long.

          1. Peculiar – What is it that makes left-ist parties so authoritarian? Some hangover from communism? Or maybe it’s blog readers that aren’t.

  4. Well I am pretty much like you – a left libertarian, but I will be sticking to pushing my views in the Labour Party.

    1. The question then is do you want to widen that to ‘our’ views and make a group of it? Is there a chance of a talk at conference for example?

  5. Economic Left/Right: -7.12
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.46
    I was honestly surprised. I would have thought I’d be somewhere in the middle of Authoritarian Right. I think it’s my opinions on religion and equality that have given me the lefty result. I don’t have conservative christian values about relationships or old fashioned opinions on race and gender. The libertarian result has really thrown me. I don’t understand where that came from at all.

    1. That’s interesting. Don’t forget though, in this test, left/right is more a measure of your economic views regarding the level of state control there should be over the economy. The libertarian slant to your score probably reflects your views on social issues as you say.

        1. I wondered that as well. I think many people would associate libertarian with being a right wing free marketeer. Left libertarian will sound like an oxymoron to some.

  6. Can’t remember the score when I last did the test … think I was a little less authoritarian (!) than you, but in the same place economically. All four of the original members of Think Left are also bottom left-hand corner .. as is Bill Mitchell (he used to have it displayed on his billy-blog). The final political compass graph is far too simplistic – most grassroots LP activists would be in the bottom left quadrant and many of the unpoliticised Greens would be in bottom right quadrant.

    1. I guess the Parties graph is based on their manifestos. Sure you are right about grassroots activists, but it doesn’t seem to translate in policy at the moment.

      1. That’s what Len McClusky, Class, CLPD, LRC etc are trying to change in the LP but the PLP is 50% top right quadrant MPs .. Blair wouldn’t let any other sort stand for election!

  7. The UKIP position as portrayed is wrong, A UKIP mate of mine and 30 of his fellow UKIP supporters took the test and 26 came out slightly Left slightly libertarian, my own result gives me an almost bullseye on Gandhi ?

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