Perhaps my main achievement is getting a newspaper to print the terms ‘classical liberal’ and ‘libertarian’ rather than blurring them with ‘the conservatives’. Unfortunately, however, when it comes to electoral politics ‘conservative’ is not such a bad catch-all term.
Various surveys over the years have asked voters to rate themselves on a 0 (left) to 10 (right) political scale. In the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2007 I classed the right as people putting themselves 7-10 on the scale and looked at their opinions on various issues. They were about 20% of the sample.
Censorship of films and magazines has no place in a free society: Agree 14%, Disagree 74%.
The smoking of marijuana should NOT be a criminal offence: Agree 18%, Disagree 65%.
Impt for Govt to regulate- Advertising aimed at selling unhealthy food to children: Not or not at all important 9%, Very or fairly important 90%.
The death penalty should be the punishment for murder: Agree 45%, Disagree 35%.
Politicians should make decisions that follow strong Christian values: Agree 45%, Disagree 30%.
On all these issues conservatives clearly outnumber liberals, interestingly even when the social regulation is typically identified with the left, advertising to children. But we see here a reasonably coherent confidence in state regulation of social behaviour.
Still thinking about this workplace relations system [WorkChoices], do you approve or disapprove of the reforms?: Approve 53%, Disapprove 16%.
Govt do for economy- Support for declining industries to protect jobs: Favour 42%, Against 35%.
There should be a law to protect all workers in Australia against unfair dismissal: Agree 76%, Disagree 13%.
Describe taxes in Australia today for those with high incomes: Too high 44%, Too low 19%.
Views on the economy are more mixed than views on social issues, but generally the attitude of the ‘mass’ right to classical liberal/libertarian positions ranges from lukewarm to opposition. The general statism of Australian political culture limits the broader influence of liberal ideas.
Though my political identity survey found more coherent positions than these among economic liberals, I noted that there was considerably more diversity of views among economic liberals than social democrats, with further diversity still if ‘conservatives’ were also considered.
Overall the two surveys confirm general impressions that there is considerable policy diversity among people described as ‘right wing’.