Poll: Clegg seen as to the left of Lib Dems

by Stephen Tall on September 11, 2008

The results of today’s Times/Populus poll of voters’ views about the main parties and their leaders will bring a wry smile to the faces of many Lib Dems today.

Voters have been asked to place themselves, the three main parties and their leaders on a Left-Right spectrum. Political opinions are more complicated than just this measure (for instance, covering liberal versus authoritarian), but the spectrum provides a revealing pointer about how voters view politics and how their opinions change.

On a 0 to 10 scale, Left to Right, the position of the average voter fluctuates from year to year in a narrow band, slightly to the right of Centre. The average voter is now on 5.17, compared with 5.33 last year, but exactly the same position as five years ago. …

Nick Clegg is seen as fractionally to the left of Sir Menzies Campbell, who stepped down as Liberal Democrat leader last October. Mr Clegg is now on 4.62, against 4.66. This is slightly to the left of where his party is seen.

It’s interesting to note the relative positions of the other two parties, with their difference from the average voter in brackets:

Labour: 4.82 (-0.35) , Gordon Brown: 4.58 (-0.59)
Tories: 5.91 (+0.74), David Cameron: 5.88 (+0.71)

So, the Lib Dems are to the left of the Labour party, but to the right of Gordon Brown. And everybody, including the average voter, is considerably to the left of the Tory party.

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No comments

I don’t think there is anything of any worth in this survey.

by asquith on September 11, 2008 at 5:26 pm. Reply #

Oh dear. I really really don’t want to be to the left of Labour. More tax cuts please!

by Laurence Boyce on September 11, 2008 at 5:33 pm. Reply #

So what do these findings tell us?

That political parties aren’t engaging the public enough to foster an understanding of things like the political spectrum, or that the public just aren’t interested in politics to care?

by James Shaddock on September 11, 2008 at 5:42 pm. Reply #

I think the question of liberal vs. authoritarian is far more important anyway. Who cares whether Gordon Brown is to the left or to the right… he’s unelected, fond of mindless bureaucracy and doesn’t mind issuing edicts that centralise all decision making to a small back office in Number 10.

Although admittedly their are more important things for the Prime Minister to worry about (as if he time for anything but to worry about his job)what happened to the change and Constitution he promised when he came to power???

by Jez Jalie on September 11, 2008 at 5:58 pm. Reply #

Anyone who thinks that the Labour party even approaches left is completely bonkers.

FWIW I think thta both of James Shaddock’s scenarios apply, coupled with a healthy dose of complete lack of education.

by Jennie on September 11, 2008 at 6:17 pm. Reply #

In terms of membership, I’d say Labour is centre-left, whereas the party hierarchy and PLP are centre, with a few centre-right.

Totally agree there is a lack of education, but both sides are to blame. There needs to be a bigger emphasis basic political education coming from the government and political parties, but first we need the public need to give a damn.

Least we forget, more people vote in reality TV shows than in elections.

by James Shaddock on September 11, 2008 at 6:38 pm. Reply #

James, that last point is wrong, sorry. More votes are sometimes cast, but I’m very aware that many fans of such shows vote multiple times, I know my sister used to.

With one or two notable exceptions (like the Tory candidate in the ward next to where I live with a conviction for electoral fraud) we only vote once each in elections, and even then turnout in the seats likely to change hands remains high, it’s the safe seats where turnout has fallen substantially.

It’s nice to see the Times write up actually saying that the left/right scale is too simplistic, but if we have to use one, I’d actually say Clegg is to the left of a lot of activists–reducing the tax burden on the lowest paid and calling for genuinely liberal policies makes him more radically left wing than any post-war Govt we’ve had, surely?

by MatGB on September 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm. Reply #

These out of ten, left to right things are utterly pointless. Can anybody here tell me where they’d be?

by James Schneider on September 11, 2008 at 7:29 pm. Reply #

“Least we forget, more people vote in reality TV shows than in elections.”

This is often said but do they?

AFAIK the total votes cast aren’t commonly declared and it is common knowledge that many people vote more than once.

Britains got talent final had a peak audience of 14 million
Big Brother this year peaked at about 5 million.
X-Factor got about 10 million

In contrast 26 million voted in 2001 and 27 million in 2005 so I doubt that this is true.

by Hywel Morgan on September 11, 2008 at 7:39 pm. Reply #

@MatGB – I stand corrected. I agree with you about Clegg now I think of it.

I’d also say that the way something is phrased can affect it. Reducing the tax burden on the lowest paid is indeed rather radically left wing, but if you just said tax cuts, people would automatically think right wing.

@James Schneider – I concur that such things are flawed, especially if you look at some of the statements on ww.politcalcompass.org

by James Shaddock on September 11, 2008 at 7:39 pm. Reply #

“These out of ten, left to right things are utterly pointless. Can anybody here tell me where they’d be?”

Yes, I’d be a 7. Apparently way to the right of all the parties. Hmm, perhaps I’m making your point here . . .

by Laurence Boyce on September 11, 2008 at 7:50 pm. Reply #

Laurence,

It’s not just economics that the scale is for. It lumps everything together. 7 probably means you want the death penalty, no rights for gays, bomb iran yesterday etc.

Still at 7?

by James Schneider on September 11, 2008 at 7:59 pm. Reply #

No, I was just doing economics. But the economics is vital. That core question – about how much you take in tax and how much you leave for individuals to spend – is at the heart of the left-right axis, and maybe central to politics itself.

Don’t let’s say that left-right doesn’t matter any more, because it matters profoundly to anyone who receives a pay cheque (which does not include me as it happens!)

by Laurence Boyce on September 11, 2008 at 8:08 pm. Reply #

That is also flawed because someone could support gay rights, reproductive choice, equality for women & what-have-you, but also support ID cards, 42 days, punitive treatment of asylum seekers & what-have-you. Such a person may well come out as “libertarian” rather than “authoritarian”, but would not be socially liberal by any valid definition.

Additionally, people of the David Davis/Peter Hitchens tendency are not represented, as their views on law ‘n’ order make them authoritarian, yet they are dogged defenders of individual rights against the state. Therefore, the 2-axis division is almost as worthless as the one-axis division.

I am tempted to refer to my old hobby horse, values modes:

http://tinyurl.com/55ryxr

The more observant among you will notice I have been back to that theme repeatedly, & I might add that I’m dismayed at its creators not having done anything new recently. 🙁

But they don’t predict a person’s behaviour, only their values & ways to try & appeal to them, so that isn’t too useful either.

A detailed report on each individual’s views, based on analysis of their statements & responses to lengthly questioning, is the way forward. I’d like to read it 🙂

by asquith on September 11, 2008 at 8:08 pm. Reply #

I meant The Political Compass, sorry for any lack of clarity. I’ve got a lot to say & I can’t always wait to actually write it properly before rushing it out in my impatience 🙂

by asquith on September 11, 2008 at 8:09 pm. Reply #

Laurence blithely asserted:

hat core question – about how much you take in tax and how much you leave for individuals to spend – is at the heart of the left-right axis

No it’s not. It’s at the heart of the freedom/state axis, liberals want a smaller state and a lower tax take than authoritarians who want the state to control everything.

The left/right axis when it comes to taxation is about who and how you tax. The notional ‘left’ should be trying to take money from the wealthy, especially those who’ve inherited their wealth, the ‘right’ like the idea of trickle down and oligopolistic profiteers.

/obligatory market socialist ranting and tangential references to JS Mill.

(in other words, even a four-way axis like the Compass is a gross simplification, economics and taxation is both left/right and up/down, then there’s social issues, immigration, political freedoms and reforms, etc).

Thus this scale and this story is, effectively, irrelevent, except that voters view Clegg as left-wing, so the media meme of a ‘shift-to-the-right’ isn’t taking hold. Which is a Good Thing given how much bollocks it is.

by MatGB on September 11, 2008 at 10:21 pm. Reply #

“The left/right axis when it comes to taxation is about who and how you tax.”

It’s also got to be a little bit about the overall tax take. We can’t keep shifting the burden to “the rich” because at some point they give up or leave. That is why people on low incomes end up paying a fair wedge of tax, even though just about everyone thinks this is a bad idea in principle. It’s a very delicate balancing act which was played out over the 10p tax rate. Anyway, whatever axis it is, I think we should move to the right of it!

by Laurence Boyce on September 11, 2008 at 10:53 pm. Reply #

“… liberals want a smaller state and a lower tax take than authoritarians who want the state to control everything.”

Sorry, but if you’re implying that those who favour higher spending on public services are “authoritarians”, that’s just plain daft – and little better than name-calling.

Public spending, well deployed, obviously works wonders for the liberty of the poor and disadvantaged. In the “small-state” dystopia the freedom of the rich would be wonderfully enhanced, for sure, but what freedom would the poor have?

by Clegg's Candid Friend on September 11, 2008 at 11:25 pm. Reply #

CCF, stop trolling, read what I actually said and remember the distinction made between ‘liberal’ and ‘libertarian’–it’s the latter that want a small state dystopia, liberals want to make sure everyone has open access to resources.

Laurence, you’re of course right in that we can’t keep raising taxes, but if taxes are to be paid, the wealthiest should at least be paying the same proportion of their income as those on minimum wage, as opposed to much less as they are now.

Oh for LVT, a flat tax and a CBI…

by MatGB on September 12, 2008 at 12:08 am. Reply #

“The wealthiest should at least be paying the same proportion of their income as those on minimum wage.”

Why? I’m not saying I necessarily disagree with this, but it is far from obvious (in the way that it is obvious that the rich should pay more in absolute terms). Tax is legalised theft – something we should never forget whether we advocate high or low taxes. And the rich are having the most stolen off them. I repeat, I am not against this. But it does demand a meticulous justification.

by Laurence Boyce on September 12, 2008 at 12:43 am. Reply #

“CCF, stop trolling, read what I actually said and remember the distinction made between ‘liberal’ and ‘libertarian’–it’s the latter that want a small state dystopia, liberals want to make sure everyone has open access to resources.”

It gets very boring when people reflexively accuse people with whom they disagree of “trolling”. It reduces the argument to name-calling again.

Anyhow, I did read what you wrote. You contrasted “liberals” who “want a smaller state” with “authoritarians who want the state to control everything”.

That was the caricature I was objecting to. Intelligent liberals want a balance between the state doing too much and the state doing too little.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on September 12, 2008 at 12:50 am. Reply #

Perhaps once the LHC experiment is completed at CERN we can reassign some theoretical physicists to devise some sort of multidimensional matrix representation of modrn political opinion.

As to the question of the poor paying more tax than the wealthy, it isn’t necessarily as straightforward as it looks. For instance one of the most effectively regressive taxes is surely the duty on cigarettes. Does that mean we should abolish cigarette duty> I say know but then I recently quit and really don’t need any extra temptation to start agian.

by Painfully Liberal on September 12, 2008 at 9:42 am. Reply #

“Intelligent liberals want a balance between the state doing too much and the state doing too little”

I’m not all that intelligent (and occasionally my liberal credentials get challenged too) but I can see that “LVT, a flat tax and a CBI” (for starters) provides a better balance than serial progressiveness and infinite loopholes accessible to only those with the means.

by Oranjepan on September 12, 2008 at 10:45 am. Reply #

Oranjepan

The point I was making was about how much the state should do, not how it should be funded.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on September 12, 2008 at 10:59 am. Reply #

CCF, the point I was making was that what you do and the way that you do it are part of one and the same thing.

by Oranjepan on September 12, 2008 at 11:09 am. Reply #

I suspect Bananarama would disagree with you there.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on September 12, 2008 at 11:24 am. Reply #

And that’s really saying something.

by Painfully Liberal on September 12, 2008 at 11:41 am. Reply #

CCF, wasn’t that Fun Boy Three?

by Oranjepan on September 12, 2008 at 11:47 am. Reply #

It was a collaboration between the two (though released under the name Fun Boy Three as they were the bigger name at the time)

by Painfully Liberal on September 12, 2008 at 12:06 pm. Reply #

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