Wednesday, November 09, 2005

We're all Tories - all of us


Researching Populus's poll for the Times about the Tory leadership contest, I came across another recent poll conducted by the company for the same paper.

The poll places voters (the thousand or so interviewed) on a political spectrum, with 10 being extremely right-wing and 0 meaning extremely left-wing. Since voters are invited to define 'right-wing' and 'left-wing' for themselves, the poll has little objective value, but it does reveal some unpleasant trends about the people you and I pass in the street.

Basically, the average value on the spectrum is 5.35 - right of centre. In the last two years, it was 5.2 and 5.17. So we've all been getting more right-wing over the last couple of years.

Men (5.4) are more right-wing than women (5.31). Only the under-25s are in any way left-wing (4.92), which is perhaps not surprising.

What's perhaps more surprising is that the most left-wing social class is also the wealthiest: ABs come at 5.22 on the scale, while the middle-class C1s and C2s are at 5.34, while the working-class DEs are at 5.51.

Perhaps most amusing is that voters reckon the Labour Party is at 5.32, almost exactly where they themselves are (this is all voters, not just Labour voters - Labour voters actually believe the party is even more right-wing than that!). The Tories are positioned at 5.89 and the LibDems at 4.81.

So the victory of ZaNuLabour is complete - it has positioned itself exactly where the average voter believes himself to be. The Tories are still too right-wing (officially, anyway) and the LibDems have been overtaken and are now too left-wing for the average voter. The sad conclusion is that the moment Labour shows any sign of returning to its roots (ie swinging to the left) it will be deserted by the voters.

(Let's not forget the caution that needs to be attached to all polls of this sort: people will often give the pollster the answer that they think he or she wants to hear - consequently, people will nearly always gravitate to the centre of any spectrum presented before them. No one wants to be seen as a fascist or an anarchist, whatever his or her private views are. Even though I consider myself a '2' on their scale, I would be tempted to say '3' or even '4' to whoever was interviewing me, just to maintain an air of respectability. Only by observing people at home, at work, talking with their friends, family and colleagues, carrying out their daily tasks, interacting with people not known to them, can one gain any insight into their real opinions - and the very fact that they're being observed will always make them tone down their more extreme views and actions. Getting to the real truth is beyond the means of any market research, no matter how sophisticated.)


Blogger Stephen Newton said...

I wouldn't be so pessimistic (re. Labour losing votes if it swung leftward).

After the elections I wrote a post called No votes to the right, for which I made the big assumption that UKIP and Veritas voters would otherwise vote Tory and so added their vote to the Conservatives. Had that happened only 13 seats would have gone Tory, leaving Labour a majority of 41.

In other words, the only way to win votes is to move leftward.

5:56 pm  
Blogger Oscar Wildebeest said...

Isn't there a flaw in this argument, though, Stephen? If Labour swings leftward it might recapture some of the ground lost to the LibDems at the last election (much of which was caused by students in university seats rebelling against the war and - more pertinently - tuition fees); but it would risk vacating some of that precious centre ground on which most voters place themselves, leaving that open for a 'friendly' Tory party to snatch up.

Like it or not, Labour governments are going to be stuck with the non-progressive centre-right agenda unless something happens to move society leftwards in general. And when has that ever happened?

9:01 am  
Blogger Brownie said...

anytime I have been polled about anything, I notice that the choices offered are never quite appropriate to me.
Australia's Labor Party is now so 'poll-driven' it is indistinguishable from our Liberal/Conservative Party.

10:48 am  

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