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As you say what is "right wing" about wanting to protect the unborn child; one of the most defenceless creatures on the planet?

The trouble with this is the typical and expected NuToryLabour inability to understand the difference between "Left" and "Liberal". Politics is a grid with four quadrants, not a simple left-right continuum. Lib Dems above all are liberal - which marks the difference between the statist and unthinking approach of the NuToryLabour joint benches.

Fascinating insight, although looking at the more detailed breakdown on The Economist's webpage, it seems as though us Brits have a more favourable impression of free trade and globalisation. Quite a role reversal for a nation who has carried the flame of laissez-faire economics for the last century. On other issues I am not surprised, although somewhat disheartened that Conservatives are so far to the left on religious matters and also social values.

Its far easier to separate parties and issues on whether they are ideologically driven or not. Pragmatic Conservative policy these days is far removed from the ideological stance of Thatcherism. That is not to say that Thatcherism wasn't right for its time and the circumstances it faced. We are now moving into an age where pragmatism will begin to supercede ideology in politics. In other words doing what is right and what will work rather than doing what is expected as part of doctrine. Eventuually the Liberals and Labour will have to give up the statist mantra and move into the 21st century.

In my view concepts such as "right-wing" or "left-wing" should never be used outside the economic sense. There are naturally some affiliations of ideas, however it is utter folly to bandy about the concept that everyone on the right is in favour of military interventions or against civil rights.

Another major thing I take from the above is that Americans enjoy a much more enlightened debate between parties offering a wide spectrum of viewpoints, as compared to our (relatively) impoverished political space.

" Eventuually the Liberals and Labour will have to give up the statist mantra and move into the 21st century."

You do write some rubbish Tony. Tax Freedom Day is the most transparent measure of statism, as the larger the state, the more of our income it needs to feed it.

As we know, the last 10 years of last Tory government brings an average TFD the same as it does for 10 years of Labour and the next Tory government has no plans to be any different.

The only way to reduce the size of the State is to stop feeding it, and none of the big 3 parties has any plans to do this (ie reduce the *overall* tax burden).

Pet tax cuts here, with rises there simply mask the simple truth that the Tories have no plans to reduce the size of the State, they simply think they will spend the money better.

By right-wing on "climate change", I take it to mean sceptical.
That being so, with the vast majority on both sides of the Atlantic sceptical, why do our politicians keep "banging on" about it?
They can't usually get out of bed without looking at the polls, so why are they so determined to ignore the people on this topic?

More to the point, very little of what the LDs say is actually liberal. If anything, their authoritarian tendencies run deeper than with the current labour regime.

Chad Noble, granted its not a good idea to stick with Labour's spending plans. However there has to be 'government' and its operations have to be funded. The question is to what degree governments pursue projects out of ideological rather than practical reasons. A Conservative government should be about providing services that produce a recognized end-goal. These have to be paid for but in a way that provides value for money rather than doing something on the cheap. One of my major worries about a greater role for voluntary bodies is that they may eventually be used to replace state services and this would be very dangerous, particularly when dealing with issues such a mental health provision and other branches of care. The state must continue to provide the infrastructure for such care with voluntary bodies providing valuable support. This is an area where an anti-state ideology would prove to be counter-productive. I certainly want to see a smaller state, but not one that is decimated in vital areas or grows beyond its purpose, both scenarios can happen as a result of ideological thinking either way.

@Chad Noble
" Tories have no plans to reduce the size of the State,"

Not so. What they are talking about is reducing the 'demand' for the state.

1. By targeting those dependant on state aid.

Mr Cameron's recent CPS speech is quite good on this: "Fairness and equality in the post bureaucratic age" [mp3].

2. And reinvigorating independent institutions, and local government. Removing Central government from service provision.

This strikes me as a plausible long-term strategy to reduce the size of the state.

Another CPS speech "The role of the state in the post bureaucratic age" [MP3] from January, is also worth a listen.

Note, though, that it's a party identification poll, not a voting intention poll. Voting intention polls give a Conservative lead of 10%+. This party id poll gives Labour a lead of 7%.

The poll will include the views of a lot of left-leaning people who never actually vote which *may* skew the overall results in a leftward direction.

Conservative Homer is on to something -- as I look to a new political home after having basically given up on NuLabor, I really do think the LibDems' greatest weakness is that, like NuLabor, they think outcomes can be guaranteed, not merely made more likely, through legislation. The Tories as the anti-authoritarian party is something that I think would be pretty compelling. 15mph speed limits, speed cameras run amok, rampant NIMBYism in land use policy and so on; these are policies with which the LibDems are all too closely associated despite their leadership's libertarian mantras.

I'm not sure what to think of this ideology chart overall, except that it does show, truthfully I think, less difference among the British parties than the American ones. I'm a bit concerned at the Tory rating on climate change; this is a real issue, and there's a broad scientific consensus that politicians of all parties are ducking.

Sean Fear, regarding party id, you're falling into the trap that American leftists fall into of assuming that the "silent majority" is with them. In truth, the usual explanation for divergence between the two figures is that left-leaners are usually easier for the right to pick off than right-leaners are for the left to pick off. But when there's this big a divergence between the two numbers, something is very clearly not well in GordonBrownland -- aka voters see NuLabor for the fraud that it is, are not agreed on whether Labour needs to be resurrected or change into something else, and are willing to vote Tory or LibDem simply to clean out the rot.

No, my point is that the people who actually turn out to vote in the UK, are more right-wing than this poll suggests

Strange that there is a bit on ideology and another on values - people can be ideological on religion, national interest, military action and climate change and have values on these things.

Then of course there is the matter of deciding what is right, centre or left. Parties hold positions on different things, as do people, political parties and people don't sign up to some kind of checklist simply because it is viewed by people as being left, right or centre by many and as individual issues have different factors then they have to be addressed seperately.

The terms left, right or centre have no real use and result in pointless discussions about nothing at all.

As for the Liberal Democrats they are all over the place - under Charles Kennedy facedown on the floor in pools of vomit, under Menzies Campbell jumping off the ship and now under Nick Clegg running in different directions simultaneously, and shortly to be culled.

...climate change; this is a real issue, and there's a broad scientific consensus that politicians of all parties are ducking.

Yes, that it's bullshit.
The only consensus is from the UN, the home of bullshit.
Please refrain from writing about things of which you obviously know nothing.

Sean Fear, you may be on to something there. However; there's no doubt that Britain is to the left of the US. I'll freely admit, having lived in both countries, I lean Tory for UK politics (viewing Labour as dangerously authoritarian and concerned about the nannying NIMBY streak in the LibDems), and lean Democrat for US politics (viewing the Republicans as authoritarian, power-obsessed and profligate to an extent beyond even NuLabor)

Jim Carr -- you're a bit truculent there. Obviously someone who wants to take David Cameron's windmill away and then stick one's head in the sand. Or maybe David Cameron's head? If you seriously think the UN is controlling the climate change agenda, you're smoking something good. Something beyond Cuban.

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