Thursday, January 25, 2007

Australian Politics Test

My thanks to Legal Eagle for drawing my attention to a fun test on the Oz Politics Blog. This gives you fifty questions to test your place on the current Australian left right political spectrum.

I found something that I had expected, that my views appeared to have shifted to the left or, alternatively, Australian views have shifter to the right. Or a bit of both.

According to the test my overall political position is centre left, I am exactly in the centre on economic policy, centre left on both social policy and traditional values. My best fit political parties are given as Democrat (77.8 per cent), Greens (67.2 per cent) and Labor (67.1 per cent).

Now those who read this blog will know that I classify my traditional politics as Country Party and therefore tend to vote National. I have in fact voted Democrat. However, I would not vote Green and struggle to vote Labor or Liberal.

All this started me mulling over two things.

The first was just what the aggregate results of the Oz Politics test showed us about Australian attitudes, accepting the limitations of the poll. There were actually some interesting things here that are worth pursuing such as the fit, or lack of it, between the best fit party as indicated by the poll as compared to the way that people actually voted.

The second thing was the nature of the changes in my own views and values over my life to this point. There have clearly been changes and quite significant ones. But I have never stood back to try to analyse these changes as a whole. Have my fundamental values changed or is it just that the way I express or apply them has changed? My feeling is that it's a bit of both.

All very introspective I know. But I find the fact that I have held certain beliefs and strongly gives me a capacity to some degree to understand and empathise with those who still hold similar views even where my own views have shifted.


Anonymous said...

Here's mine! I did this over a year ago, but I probably haven't changed much since...

I keep this in my side bar under "personal" so people can't say they weren't warned...

I think it is a rather good test myself.

Legal Eagle said...

It was very interesting, wasn't it? It seems to have provoked a lot of controversy among various political bloggers.

Jim Belshaw said...

LE, I thought that it was very good.

It amazes me a little that it has not been picked up, maybe it has and I haven't see it, outside the blogosphere. There are some obvious biases, but the aggregate patterns are still interesting.

Given my analytic focus, I will try to write something on it.

Neil, you come through more on the left than I would have expected.

The question of how and why attitudes and values change is a fscinating one.

LE said that her values were affected by becoming a parent. This made her more conservative on certain things. My values were also affected here.

Anonymous said...


Thanks, Jim. It is interesting to reflect on the degree to which that test saw me as Left. You will have noted this happened most in the area of "traditional values". My starting point 40 or so years back was very conservative, and there are areas where I am still comparatively conservative. What changed me? Teaching and the exposure it brought to people (students and staff) of more backgrounds than I encountered growing up has been the first cause, I think. Second, despite some reservations, experience of the Teachers' Federation has made me a trade union supporter. We need such dinosaurs to confront the other dinosaurs; the balance currently is shifting much too far to the right in my view. Third, close engagement with people from other ethnic and religious backgrounds has shaken my own convictions, or opened them up, so that from the late 60s I had begun to value pluralism as a necessity. Again, we are swinging too far to the right on this one. Finally, "coming out" and a degree of involvement with gay and lesbian people has led to a revaluation of much that passes for common sense. Hence, perhaps, the test result.

Jim Belshaw said...

Neil, I thought that your comment was very good, am glad that you tried again too add it. It really brought out some of the issues involved in changing views.

One was the personal experience. Your struggle with your sexuality in the context of prevailing attitudes automatically, I think, moved you to the left on social attitudes.

Your experience with the trade union movement in some ways mirrors my own.

I started by seeing the union movement as a natural part of the system. Then when organising a local festival I asked one of the local bands who we had included as an act of grace and favour to do a free street promo. The local union organiser then rang me up, abused me, and said that the union would blacklist the event if we did not pay the band fro the promo.

Later in the Hawke period I came to see value in the institutional role of the movement even though Colin Cooper threatened a national telecoms strike when I tried to brief the telecom union objectively on the reform process.

As an aside, it was a Country Party politician (Drummond) not an ALP one who gave the NSW Teachers Federation their institutionalised role in NSW education. He did so despite personal and political Fed attacks on him because he saw a real role for the union.

So now I support the union movement because I see it as having a role even though I distrust the movement on a specific issue and party basis. If the movement got rid of its traditional links to the ALP its real power would double overnight.

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