Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Dangers of One Dimensional Politics

One dimensional politics is always dangerous. I think we are seeing two other dimensions that might be becoming more important that the plain economic right/left dimension:

Liberal vs Authoritarian – Blair skewed us towards the authoritarian (Criminal Justice Acts etc.) and many Conservatives are disinclined to try to move things back.

Communitarian vs Individualist – Americanisation is taking us towards the Individualist and challenging the Labour vote in particular. Whilst the rich are (mainly) very happy to see policies skew towards Individualism (a.k.a. personal responsibility, self-reliance, the weak go to the wall because they are unworthy) and the Conservatives are happy to encourage this, getting the poor to support it is a much more difficult trick. Perhaps this is what UKIP are doing. By persuading the less well off that the welfare state is excessively supporting “the other” (notably migrants but also “welfare scroungers”), you can turn them against that very welfare state. And if you don’t support that welfare state – why support Labour?

UKIP and the Conservatives have a similar policy base. It is therefore quite reasonable to believe that their support will oscillate between the two – they are both Individualist parties. The same cannot be said for Labour. Once you have made the emotional jump to supporting UKIP it is not so much a case of having lent your vote to them, but of leaving Labour and not coming back,

The “squeezed middle” is not just those economically squeezed but also those who believe in the state as a force for community good. They are being attacked from one side by the rich who do not want to contribute and from the other by those who no longer believe.

The key dimension of the next election may be Individualist (like Americans – particularly Republicans and their faction the Tea Party) or Communitarian (like much of Europe).

Tories, Whigs/Orange Bookers, and UKIP vs Social Democracy, Liberal Democracy and Greens. And that does not equate to rich vs poor or the traditional class divide.


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One thought on “Dangers of One Dimensional Politics

  1. For more on the mapping of political parties using the two dimensions of conventional left/right and libertarian/authoritarian see Political Compass

    They are pretty strict on copyright so it is hard to discuss some of their ideas – as you really need to reproduce their illustrations – or develop variations of them.

    The page linked above has (at the end) an interesting visualisation of how the position of the three main all-UK parties has evolved (mainly into the authoritarian/right quadrant at least until 2008!). Another page shows how European Governments are positioned – undated, but my guess it is pre-Euro crisis.

    I have been wondering how the various factions within the main parties are actually positioned. I am wondering if it is possible to plot the “political centre” of each faction but then (by means of the size of the spot) show how doctrinaire each faction is – the more doctrinaire, the smaller the spot. Presumably if the spots of factions within any party do not significantly overlap, you have a problem. Likewise if there is an excessive gap between the dominant factions in each of the coalition parties there will be potential problems. I have not yet however determined how to easily determine the scale for deciding on the size of a faction’s spot.

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