I may be Carlton’s lone classical liberal, but are things much better in the rest of Victoria? An article in this morning’s Sunday Age proclaims Victoria the ‘left-leaning state’.
The article notes that Labor’s vote has been typically strong here for decades, and is holding up here during this latest campaign as it declines elsewhere as the Julia, Kevin, Mark and the leaker soap opera undermines the Labor campaign. As John Roskam observes, the left-wing tilt even influences the right – the Kennett years aside, the Victorian Liberal Party has typically been rather wishy-washy compared to the more robust conservatism found elsewhere.
The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2009 asked its respondents to rate themselves on a 0 (left) to 10 (right) scale. It actually finds that Victorians (average rating 5.04) are moderately to the right of people in New South Wales (average rating 4.97), but the more noticeable thing about the figure below is that NSW and Victoria are to the left of the rest of Australia.
Perhaps as the Sunday Age article suggests there is some deep history behind all this. In the 19th century Victoria was the bastion of protectionism, lead by Alfred Deakin. His kind of Establishment noblesse oblige liberalism still seems to have some residual influence on the Victorian Liberal Party. Age founder David Syme was a promoter of Deakinite protectionism, and the Age is still the most left-leaning newspaper in the country.
On the other hand, the current-day parallels with NSW and differences with other states point to sociological factors. Brian Costar suggests urbanisation and migration as influences, and this seems plausible. The economic structure of the NSW and Victoria is likely to be a factor as well, with more of their workforces in occupations that tend left.