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28 November 2012

Responses to Leveson will show the divide between authoritarians and libertarians

Leveson enquiry

You probably know if youíre Left or Right, but if youíve never taken the Political Compass test, nowís a good time to find out if you tend towards the authoritarian Left/Right or the libertarian Left/Right. I take it every year or so just for fun (itís an enjoyable site) and to find out if Iíve suddenly changed my attitudes dramatically. I also enjoy discovering where I stand compared to public figures.

The questions are not that straightforward. I had a bit of a dither this morning over, for instance, where I stood on my enemyís enemy being my friend, on the duties of transnational corporations and on acceptance of authority. I ended up with a score of 0.50 on the Left/Right scale and -3.38 on the social libertarian/authoritarian, which means Iím centre-Right and pretty libertarian. In terms of candidates for the US presidency, on the second scale, that puts me closest to two Iím embarrassed to admit I hadnít heard of: Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party (ex-mayor of Salt Lake City and to my right) and Jill Stein of the Green Party (much to my Left). All the rest were way up the authoritarian scale.

Iím just recovering from finding that outside the US, Iím closest on the authoritarian/libertarian scale to Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama (both much to my Left), and, closer to home, to Herman van Rompuy (to my Right), who is slightly more libertarian than Angela Merkel or David Cameron. Not a lot of people know that. Nor would they necessarily have realised that the Pope is considered more authoritarian than Hugo Chavez.

Political Compass might usefully add a question about Leveson. Thereís nothing Left or Right that should determine who thinks legislation should underpin regulation of the press: itís straightforwardly about how authoritarian/libertarian you are and how much you fear state encroachment on freedom. Hurrah for those 85 MPs and peers who have appealed to David Cameron to stand fast against statutory regulation and its inevitable mission creep. From the Right, Norman Tebbitt, John Redwood, Conor Burns and 72 other Tories have joined forces with six from the Labour Party (the brave tendency that includes Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart Ė and, this time Ė David Blunkett) and the lonely Lib Dem, John Hemming. Now, how do we explain why the Left are showing such an authoritarian bias?

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