Centrist still

Ever since various RWDBs slated Best Blog Posts 2006 as a “lefty” benefit partly because it was judged by that notorious lefty Ken Parish, I’ve been idly concerned that perhaps I’ve started lurching  in za socialist direction  as I got older.   As longtime readers of this blog will be aware, I’ve always seen myself as a “centrist”, while acknowledging that any labels of that sort are pretty meaningless  on their own.     I see myself as socially and economically liberal, but with very slight social democratic influences to the extent necessary to promote equality of opportunity.

That’s why I embarked on Brian Palmer’s  Australian Politics Quiz over at OzPolitics with a certain amount of interest.   There have been quite a few of these quizzes on the interwebs over the last few years, but most have been either American or British, or very amateurishly designed.   Brian’s quiz strikes me as a fairly respectable effort.   Try it for yourself.   My results were basically in accord with my self-assessment:

Political outlook

Your broad political orientation score is 13.5%, which equates to a ‘Centre’ position

Economic policy

Your economic policy score score is 37.8%. This equates to a ‘Centre Right’ position

Social policy

Your social policy score is 41.4%. This equates to a ‘Centre Right’ position

Traditional values

Your traditional values score is -50.7%. This equates to a ‘Left’ position

The party political evaluation aspect of the quiz strikes me as more problematic, and probably needs more  tweaking by Brian.   I show up as a strong Liberal voter, whereas in fact I’ve only even voted Liberal once in my life.   The programming seems to assume that people who are both socially and economically liberal (like me) would be Liberal voters.   However, John Howard is very much a social conservative and, as Andrew Norton has pointed out recently, just as “tax and spend”-oriented as the ALP.   Why in those circumstances would I vote Liberal?   I may well do so once Costello or Turnbull or even Nelson are in charge, because any one of them would probably  be more socially liberal than either John Howard or Kevin Rudd (as far as one can tell).

I also notice that I show up as a stronger Liberal voter than Jason Soon!   Just shows you: JF Beck was clearly correct about Catallaxy really being a lefty blog.

Here’s how Brian explains each of his categorisations:

Your economic policy score reports the extent to which you think the state should be regulating the economic aspects of our lives. A negative score means you believe the state should, on more issues than not, intervene in the economic lives of its citizens. A positive score means you believe the state should be less interventionist.

Your social policy score reports the extent to which you think the state should be providing services for its citizens and protecting its citizens from making decisions that could be harmful (in social policy areas other than those covered by the traditional values score below). A negative score means you believe the state should, on more issues than not, intervene in the social lives of its citizens as a force for good. A positive score means you believe we are responsible enough to provide for ourselves and run our own lives free from excessive government intervention.

Your traditional values score reports the extent to which you think the state should act to maintain conservative moral standards (for example in respect of abortion, divorce and drug use). A negative score means you believe the state should not overly intervene in the moral lives of its citizens. A positive score indicates you believe the state should intervene on more of these issues than not. A strongly positive score is consistent with the position adopted by the ‘Christian Right’ in Australia.

The traditional values dimension reverses the relationship between the political spectrum and state intervention. In the economic and social dimensions, being left wing equates with higher levels of state intervention. When it comes to traditional values, higher levels of state intervention are associated with right-wing politics.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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42 Responses to Centrist still

  1. Jason Soon says:

    Ken
    that’s because the ‘traditional values’ measures screws up libertarians. As a libertarian I am considered ‘far Left’ on traditional values

    http://www.ozpolitics.info/blog/index.php?page_id=206&id=6cb31b670e8297d5d09f0bca1a9f1d4c

    Political outlook

    Your broad political orientation score is 21.5%, which equates to a ‘Centre Right’ position

    Economic policy

    Your economic policy score score is 100%. This equates to a ‘Far Right’ position

    Social policy

    Your social policy score is 70.5%. This equates to a ‘Right’ position

    Traditional values

    Your traditional values score is -81.8%. This equates to a ‘Far Left’ position

    Explanation

  2. SJ says:

    I failed on “traditional values”, too (-78.9%). But I’m quite as big a leftie as you Jason. ;)

  3. SJ says:

    Ack. Was supposed to read “But I’m not quite as big a leftie as you Jason. ;)”

  4. SJ says:

    On a more substantive note, the survey has too many false dichotomy questions, along the lines of “Is shooting your grandmother a better alternative than shooting your next door neighbour?” There’s no c) “none of the above” response available.

    And the results were a bit puzzling. Apparently, I should preference Greens -> Democrats -> Labor.

    Yeah, right. In a pink fit. In reality, if I had a choice between the greens and Fred Nile, I’d vote for Fred. Not because of his “traditional values”, which I obviously disagree strongly with, but because of his economic stance.

    (At this point, I guess poeple might wonder what the hell Fred Nile’s economic stance is, if he indeed has one. I guess I’m a sad case who reads Hansard too much, but Fred’s usual position is “show me the evidence before I make a decision”, which helps to improve the quality of the usual Liberal v Labor debates.)

  5. whyisitso says:

    Political outlook

    Your broad political orientation score is 49.6%, which equates to a ‘Right’ position

    Economic policy

    Your economic policy score score is 85.2%. This equates to a ‘Far Right’ position

    Social policy

    Your social policy score is 79.6%. This equates to a ‘Far Right’ position

    Traditional values

    Your traditional values score is 27.3%. This equates to a ‘Centre Right’ position

  6. whyisitso says:

    My main quarrel is the high reading I’m given for the National Party. I very strongly disagree with them on economic policy, but I guess some of my social views are quite conservative, hence my scoring high with the Nationals.

  7. cam says:

    Jason, that’s because the ‘traditional values’ measures screws up libertarians.

    Left-right labels are highly insensitive to liberty as a guiding principle. IIRC Bryan does that test directly from the parties policies so the problem is with how the parties portray themselves rather than being intrinsic to the test IMO.

  8. Steve Edney says:

    My centre on social policy, and centre right on economic policy was it seems, outweight by my far left -97.1 on traditional values to make me centre left, and apparently a democrat voter (by a nose from the ALP).

    All of which I thought was fairly accurate although I don’t imagine myself voting for the Dems.

  9. I did this test a while ago, and came out with similar results to Jason. It’s clearly not designed for libertarians.

  10. Yobbo says:

    Your broad political orientation score is 37.5%, which equates to a ‘Centre Right’ position.
    Your economic policy score score is 86.8%. This equates to a ‘Far Right’ position.
    Your social policy score is 68.1%. This equates to a ‘Right’ position.
    Your traditional values score is -50.7%. This equates to a ‘Left’ position.

    http://www.ozpolitics.info/blog/index.php?page_id=206&id=890b60a9b7ba244ecccd135aaa75cd8e

  11. Tim Lambert says:

    Your broad political orientation score is -35.3%, which equates to a ‘Centre Left’ position
    Your economic policy score score is 15.5%. This equates to a ‘Centre Right’ position
    Your social policy score is -16.8%. This equates to a ‘Centre Left’ position
    Your traditional values score is -75.6%. This equates to a ‘Far Left’ position

  12. SRK says:

    Your broad political orientation score is -22.7%, which equates to a ‘Centre Left’ position.

    Your economic policy score score is 44.4%. This equates to a ‘Right’ position.

    Your social policy score is -14.7%. This equates to a ‘Centre Left’ position.

    Your traditional values score is -87.6%. This equates to a ‘Far Left’ position.

  13. JC says:

    Jason is right Ken, it made no allowance for libertarians and simply grouped their perspective with liberals.

  14. saint says:

    Political Centre Right 20.9
    Ecomonic Centre -4.3
    Social Centre -9.1
    Traditional Far Right (!!!!) 88.5

    Bryan has me down as compatible with FF -and the only time in my life that I have announced how I vote is to indicate that I preferenced FF last in the last Federal election.

    Perhaps you should also highlight Bryan’s note that:

    People choose to vote for a political party for many reasons, not just because their ideas and ideals align with those of their chosen party. In addition to a party’s philosophical position, many voters are also interested in the experience of the candidates, and the party’s leadership style and management capability. This tool did not test such factors.

    These factors certainly play a factor in how I vote.

    I also think the right-left divide is really no longer a meaningful nomenclature. E.g. Tim Blair once called me a leftist but the other day I found myself tagged again elsewhere as a conservative.

    Heh.

  15. The thing is though that libertarians traditionally are a very small current in what is a very statist political culture on both sides of the aisle in Australia.

    Having said that, certainly social liberalism is more in evidence now and can be found in all political parties, as can social conservatism (at least in the majors).

    I still think consistent economic/social liberals are pretty rare in Australian politics, and getting rarer. As I’ve said before, I very much doubt Costello is one. Nelson, I think, only believes in Nelson. Turnbull probably comes closest at the top of the Liberals. Kennett was probably the best example.

  16. JC says:

    Mark
    I can’t see much of a difference on the cultural side between the two parties. Maybe I am wrong on this but both seem to be pretty conservative as a bunch, with labor just ahead by a couple of nose hair lengths in being socially more liberal (note small l)

    There is a big difference at the grass roots level though, particularly within the state I reside. The libs have a sizable margin of supporters that could easily fit into the libertarian, easy social policy Friedman economics wing if there ever was one. There is some serious grumbling at the grass roots with the big spending attitude and the way one particular clown has taken hold of the party operational structure. You saw a little of this with the rise of Prodos and then the party structure indecently killing his candidacy in an electorate that was as close to the safest labor seat in the state that the Libs had never contested before. Kroger and his henchmen took out his candidacy, which is something I will never forgive them for until Kroger and his cabal is banished.

    I would hazard to bet that 10-15% of the party grass roots has libertarian leanings. Believe me it is there, really upset and restless.

  17. Yobbo says:

    Kennett wasn’t the best example. John Hyde is a lifelong libertarian.

  18. JC says:

    Who never did anything Yobbo other than sit in a cozy office, write a couple of books, go to self-congratulatory dinners and pick up a couple cheques each month. When you have Hugh Morgan running that crowd you know it’s going the same way as the WMC stock price while his running the show.

    Sorry if I sound a little bitter but that’s how I see it with that lot in unsunny Melbourne.

  19. JC says:

    Compare that to Humphries work and toil.

  20. I believe you, JC, and the interesting question (posed in somewhat a different way by Andrew Norton) is what do the liberal Liberals do when Howard goes – particularly if he is defeated.

  21. Yobbo, yes and Hyde was influential as a sort of ginger group back bencher. But I was thinking of people at the top of the party. Ken’s example of his possible voting intentions invited that response.

  22. Yobbo says:

    And I think you’re also forgetting John Hewson.

  23. I’m getting the same pattern (though slightly different numbers) as the other libertarians/classical liberals.

    As Ken says, the party matches aren’t working. Mine is right, but his software is correctly predicting less than half.

  24. Geoff Honnor says:

    Political Outlook – Centre -1.7%

    Economic Policy – Centre Right 42.1%

    Social Policy – Centre Right 27.4%

    Trad Values – Left -58.9%

  25. meika says:

    In looking at the summaries it appears that the quizz’s centre leftis the new middle (or at least median) of views. It even includes us non-pro-statist’s (libertarian or anarchist). Pity we can’t get past the football tribalism of the traditional parties.

    Amanda I’m going to miss your tempering influence on the conservatives. Woe!

  26. whyisitso says:

    Remarkable similarity between Ken Parish’s and Geoff Honnor’s readings! Yet as a Right-Far Right commenter I personally find Geoff’s commentaries far more palatable and sensible than Ken’s.

    Regrettably I have to agree with Mark’s assessment that “The thing is though that libertarians traditionally are a very small current in what is a very statist political culture on both sides of the aisle in Australia.” While I’m obviously not a libertarian I find libertarian philosophies far more agreeable than the statist positions so loudly advocated by the Bahnischs, Gruens and Quiggans of this world.

  27. whyisitso says:

    While Ken is assessed as a Centrist, I think this is true only on average. It’s the old example that if you bathe one leg in boiling water and the other in freezing water, on average you will experience a very comfortable temperature.

  28. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Your broad political orientation score is 43.6%, which equates to a ‘Right’ position.
    Your economic policy score score is 95.7%. This equates to a ‘Far Right’ position.
    Your social policy score is 80.7%. This equates to a ‘Far Right’ position.
    Your traditional values score is -43.5%. This equates to a ‘Left’ position.

    The problem with this metric is that it measures economic views in three different ways, but social views once. I would have thought that political, economic policy and social policy scores would be highly positively correlated.

  29. vee says:

    The problems with the results have been well documented now but I think the question really is “does One Nation still belong up there on that list?”

    Isn’t it now non-existent or practically non-existent? Perhaps we could replace it with the LDP for our libertarian friends? Or just add LDP to the list.

    The test is not meant to be taken too seriously (though its the best one I’ve found) and is supposedly based on the parties policies.

  30. And I think you’re also forgetting John Hewson.

    Fair cop, but he’s pretty forgettable!

  31. the statist positions so loudly advocated by the Bahnischs

    Such as?

    Find me some, and I’ll link to the many posts I’ve written arguing for less statist social policy and more emphasis on liberty from social democrats.

    I’ve been consistent on this.

    I don’t think Nick could be characterised as a statist either.

  32. Yobbo says:

    You guys can also try our test here. See if you like the results better.

  33. whyisitso says:

    I realise this test is just a bit of fun, although there does seem to be a consensus among the comments that the site’s reckoning is not too far away from the self-assessments.

    I’m not going to trawl through Mark’s many posts to establish what I have long sensed to be his statist beliefs, so I’ll withdraw my assessment until I’ve got time for his gotcha game.

    What I found interesting however are his scores on economic and social policy that according to Brian Palmer’s explanations are highly suggestive of a statist mindset. Maybe he agreed with only those propositions in those areas that weren’t indicative of statist thinking. But as I said it’s unscientific and just a bit of fun.

    “Your economic policy score reports the extent to which you think the state should be regulating the economic aspects of our lives. A negative score means you believe the state should, on more issues than not, intervene in the economic lives of its citizens. A positive score means you believe the state should be less interventionist.

    Your social policy score reports the extent to which you think the state should be providing services for its citizens and protecting its citizens from making decisions that could be harmful (in social policy areas other than those covered by the traditional values score below). A negative score means you believe the state should, on more issues than not, intervene in the social lives of its citizens as a force for good. A positive score means you believe we are responsible enough to provide for ourselves and run our own lives free from excessive government intervention.”

  34. That’s a function of the categories and the dichotomisation, whyisitso. You can still have expansive social policy goals – recognising as social democrats do that freedom is only meaningful if there are equal opportunities for people to develop the capacities to exercise it – but disagree with intrusive and interventionist ways of achieving it. Similarly with economic policy – you can have broad goals which are best met by market incentives which are nevertheless not “a free market”. A lot of what I would like to advocate simply isn’t captured by the alternatives given, and I think from the point of view of political philosophy, the blurbs you quote are very simplistic.

  35. Bannerman says:

    Clearky, Parish is a rightie, judging from his results. Not that the quiz is in any way definitive, or even rational. Bannerman means to say…..well, some of those questions….SHEESH!

  36. Jason Soon says:

    so tell us your results, Hyper-idiot Bannerman.

  37. Yobbo says:

    Changing your pseudonym certainly hasn’t made you any less of a tosser, has it Niall?

  38. Sacha says:

    Here’s mine:

    Political outlook
    Your broad political orientation score is -9.1%, which equates to a ‘Centre’ position

    Economic policy
    Your economic policy score score is 56.9%. This equates to a ‘Right’ position

    Social policy
    Your social policy score is 9.8%. This equates to a ‘Centre’ position

    Traditional values
    Your traditional values score is -85.2%. This equates to a ‘Far Left’ position

    A unidimensional scale is probably less interesting than the two-dimensional scale I’ve seen elsewhere (economic liberalness and social liberalness). I’ve done similar quizzes before (probably the US one) and came out fairly similarly, but my responses change – tomorrow I might respond differently! A few months ago on the US test I had negative scores on all three scales.

  39. Sacha says:

    The quiz on the LDP site had the two-dimensional scale I was thinking about.

  40. joelb says:

    Interestingly, I attempted to give as undecided an answer as I could (answering in the mid range for every question) and was classed as a onenation suporter. I would have thought that most (?) members of One nation had strong views on many of the questions in the test?

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