For those who spend their days immersed in Westminster goings on, awareness of how the left-to-right spectrum works is taken for granted. But our results show that the wider public is in fact largely unfamiliar with the categorisation..
Of more than 100 political views we put to people, none were identified as being specifically left-wing or right-wing by more than 53% of people. That is to say, even for the very most stereotypically left- and right-wing policies, half of the population do not identify them as such..
The political view that the most Britons identify as being left-wing is “believing that the minimum wage in the UK is too low”. Around half (53%) of people said it was a left-wing view, while 13% said it was neither and 7% thought it was right-wing. The remaining 26% answered “don’t know”..
What views do left- and right-wing people hold?.
If asking people whether something is a left- or right-wing view is not so helpful, then perhaps looking at what views left- and right-wing people hold might be more instructive..
According to YouGov Profiles, 28% of Britons describe themselves as left-wing and 25% consider themselves right-wing. A further 19% place themselves in the centre and the remaining 29% don’t know.
Generally, the left-wing is characterized by an emphasis on "ideas such as freedom, equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform and internationalism" while the right-wing is characterized by an emphasis on "notions such as authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction and nationalism".
YouGov shows that the left-wing to right-wing political spectrum is actually much more complex than previously thought when it comes to public opinion.
A new angle of attack from Jeremy Corbyn seems to be that Boris Johnson is presiding over the most right-wing government in living memory..
That might be a helpful move if politicians had an accurate assessment of where the public stands on the left-right spectrum. But if the reaction in Westminster to YouGov survey data from earlier this week showing that 75% of Brits (including 61% of Labour voters) support the PM’s proposed expansion of stop and search powers is anything to go by, they may well not..
Framing politics in terms of left-wing and right-wing might be simple for politicians, and comforting to activists, but it seems that these terms just aren’t that useful for talking about - or indeed to - the general public..
A new YouGov study reveals that the political wing spectrum is poorly understood and also that huge numbers of people don’t hold consistent left- and right-wing outlooks..
At most only half know what is a left-wing policy and what is a right-wing policy.
What views do left- and right-wing people have that they ‘shouldn’t’
While the most distinct views held by left- and right-wing people do fit well with the stereotypical view of left- and right-wing, there are a great deal of policy areas where people’s views run directly counter to that. (Please note, as mentioned above YouGov itself has not made a judgement on whether any given policy is left- or right-wing. The examples that follow are all ones that the public consider to be left- or right-wing.)
For instance, a majority of left-wing Britons (59%) believe that school discipline should be stricter, making it the most commonly-held right-wing view among the left. Likewise, 55% of left-wingers believe criminal justice in Britain to be too soft, a plurality of 47% want to see tighter restrictions on immigration, and sizeable minorities of 39% support capital punishment and 36% support Britain having a nuclear arsenal.
Of course, as we saw in the beginning, people are seemingly unclear on how left and right work, so it could simply be that these counterintuitive figures simply reflect people having classified themselves incorrectly (after all, there is clearly a large gap between the 70% of people who can place themselves somewhere on the left-right axis and the maximum of half who can actually identify the most stereotypical left/right policies).
Why does this matter? British politics is more fractured than ever before, with party loyalties in flux and the fault lines of left and right no longer holding sway (if they ever did). Any politician who still looks at the electorate in terms of left and right is not only missing opportunities to appeal to voters who support other parties, but is also potentially unaware of how up for grabs their own voters are.
The new Prime Minister is a man who is willing to defy the expected political boundaries. He was twice elected as Mayor of London – an inherently left-leaning city – and despite austerity having been Conservative policy for a decade looks set to declare a public spending spree.
There is space in the current political landscape for some very radical appeals to be made that would prove very popular. This applies to all parties, not just Boris Johnson. Any politician willing to do so could find themselves with the keys to victory.
The main difference between left wing and right wing is that left wing is characterized by equality, freedom, rights, progress, and reform, while right wing is characterized by duty, hierarchy, authority, order, tradition, and nationalism.
Left wing and right wing are two political extremities. We can trace back the history of these two concepts to the French Revolution, especially to the seating arrangement in the French Estates General in 1789. The members who sat on the left generally supported the French Revolution, the creation of a democratic republic, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions.
Left wing refers to liberal or radical political parties and their supporters. Left wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism and gives importance to ideas such as freedom, rights, progress, and reform. They consider social welfare as the most important goal of government. Political analysts often describe left wing political party members as communists, socialists, democratic socialists, anarchists, social democrats, social liberals, left libertarians, and progressives.
Furthermore, left wing politics believe in concepts like welfare state, equality in society, central planning, government intervention in the economy, secularism (separation of religion and state), and protectionism- anti-free trade. In addition, they also hold progressive views on subjects like homosexuality, abortion, and immigration.
Right wing politics refers to a conservative or reactionary political party and its members. Right wing politics usually oppose extensive political reform. According to right wing politics, social order and hierarchy is inevitable and natural, and right wingers typically support this position on the basis of natural law, tradition, or economics. Political analysts describe right-wing political supporters as conservatives, neoconservatives, imperialists, right-libertarians, monarchists, fascists, and traditionalists.
Left-wing refers to a liberal or radical political party while right-wing refers to a conservative or reactionary political party.
While left wing is more liberal in its approach, right wing is conservative.
Economic policies of the left wing include reducing income inequality, increasing taxes for the wealthy, and government intervention in the economy, whereas economic policies of the right wing include less regulation of the economy, low taxes, and promotion of the private sector for growth.
Left wing is characterized by equality, freedom, rights, progress, and reform, while right wing is characterized by duty, hierarchy, authority, order, tradition, and nationalism.
While left wing ideology believes in secularism, i.e, separation of the state and religion, right wing ideology supports religion and believes that it has an important role in society.
Moreover, left wing politics holds progressive views in matters like same-sex marriage, abortion, and immigration whereas right wing politics have traditional views regarding them.
Left wing refers to a liberal or radical political party, while right wing politics refers to a conservative or reactionary political party. The main difference between left wing and right wing is that left wing is characterized by equality, freedom, rights, progress, and reform, while right wing is characterized by duty, hierarchy, authority, order, tradition, and nationalism.