Political beliefs and values

Political beliefs and values in the West of Scotland

The core political beliefs and values in British society can be described in terms of two main dimensions. The first dimension concerns the role of the state in the economy and is often referred to as the ‘left-right’ scale. The left/right scale involves (in the left end) principles of socialism, financial redistribution and government control over services and markets, as opposed to (in the right end) principles of nationalism, economic hierarchy, and capitalism/free market competition. This scale can also be seen to reflect views on equality.

The other main dimension concerns the issue of personal freedom and is often referred to as the 'authoritarian/libertarian' scale. This scale involves values, such as (on the authoritarian side) collectivism, conformity and powerful, central leadership, as opposed to (on the libertarian side) values like individualism, freedom of thought, freedom of speech and association, and the freedom to choose and pursue one's own course in life. In other words, this scale reflect views on personal freedom.

 Researchers involved in the British Social Attitudes Survey and the British Election Survey series have developed two scales designed to reflect people's position on the 'left/right’ and 'authoritarian/libertarian' dimensions.

The 'left/right' scale is composed of the following questions (1 = agree strongly; 5 = disagree strongly):

  • Government should redistribute income from the better-off to those who are less well off
  • Big business benefits owners at the expense of workers
  • Ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth
  • There is one law for the rich and one for the poor
  • Management will always try to get the better of employees if it gets the chance

A higher score (maximum of 5) represents a more right wing ideology.

The 'authoritarian/libertarian' scale is composed of the following questions (1 = agree strongly; 5 = disagree strongly):

  • Young people today don’t have enough respect for traditional British values
  • People who break the law should be given stiffer sentences
  • For some crimes, the death penalty is the most appropriate sentence
  • Schools should teach children to obey authority
  • The law should always be obeyed, even if a particular law is wrong
  • Censorship of films and magazines is necessary to uphold moral standards

A higher score (maximum of 5) represents a more libertarian ideology.

Political Identity - Left-Right (2018)

Political Identity - Lib-Auth (2018)

 Click on graph to expand

There are no differences in the political beliefs and values of the West of Scotland compared with the Rest of Scotland.  As a whole, the West of Scotland population are situated in the left of the left-right scale and is more authoritarian than libertarian (scores closer to 5 than 1).

Indicator LinkIndicator links

See the Social capital domain for related information.

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