On the image above, we’ve added, for parties active in Scotland only, striped circles indicating each party’s 2010 position. But what does it tell us about 2015?
The PC chart is the closest it’s possible to come to settling the age-old disputes about who’s “left-wing” and who’s “right-wing”. Plotted on two axes in order to more accurately represent a party’s social and economic stances, it’s a more nuanced and precise guide, and by taking the site’s test readers can place themselves on the graph, which we’ve done by way of example – Wings comes out left of the Greens.
(The two-axis method illustrates that the BNP, for example, usually deemed to be far right, actually have relatively left-wing economic policies, because they’re tailored to the poor working-class areas where they get most of their support. It’s on social issues – chiefly immigration and LGBT rights – that the party is actually extremist.)
We can see that the SNP have remained just to the left of centre but have become slightly more authoritarian, due to policies like the anti-sectarianism football laws.
Labour haven’t budged from their economic centre-right position, but have become a little LESS authoritarian, having abandoned anti-civil-liberties policies like ID cards. The Conservatives and UKIP have both become more authoritarian, and the Tories have also moved economically to the right in pursuit of ever more-draconian austerity.
The Greens are placed exactly where they were in 2010, but the most dramatic shift is that of the Liberal Democrats, who have lurched dramatically to the right and also up across the centre line on the authoritarian/liberal axis, on account of being tied to the Tories in the coalition government.
The result is that for the first time ever, all three main UK parties – and also UKIP, the biggest fringe party – are now in the upper-right quadrant of the graph. Whoever UK voters elect, they’ll be getting an authoritarian right-wing government. The image below shows the “triangle of choice” available to voters in 2015 compared to 2010.
In the space of just one Parliament, that’s a pretty dramatic shift.
The only party likely to get a double-figure number of seats which is anywhere to the left of the centre, and the only one that’s now close to the equator on liberalism, is the SNP. If we assume for the sake of argument that the current polls are correct and that the Nats will therefore in fact be the third-largest party in the Commons, the graph changes to one that’s anchored far closer to the liberal centre.
This May’s election looks like being a crossroads for the UK. If the SNP hold the balance of power, it should be possible to arrest the drift to the authoritarian right and buy some time for the current Green surge to build into something with meaningful electoral force. If not, Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems will almost certainly to continue to triangulate towards UKIP.
And as only one part of Britain can vote SNP, it’s up to Scots to decide.