Bloody bad research here

Conservatism, it seems, is contagious. Moving to Tunbridge Wells, or a similar Tory heartland, will make you more rightwing, an academic study has found.

A study analysing the political beliefs of the 10% of Britons who move home each year has found that “movers to safe Conservative seats became more economically rightwing and more likely to vote Conservative after the move”, whatever their political views before. It also found that the longer someone lives in a Conservative constituency, the more likely an individual is to support the Conservatives. However, there is no equivalent effect on those moving to Labour seats and staying there.

“If you move to Tunbridge Wells from Salford, on average, people become a bit more rightwing over time,” said the study’s author, Professor Patrick Sturgis of the University of Southampton. “It is the move that is causing the change, because the comparison is with people who don’t move. Yet we don’t find the same with people moving to Labour areas. We think the reason is that people who move to Labour areas are already pretty leftwing, so there is no space for movement. People who move to Tory areas are more variable in their politics.”

You need to know why people are moving. And a move from Salford to Tunbridge Wells is likely to indicate a change in economic status: which is also likely to have an effect on one’s politics. Possibly from the soak the rich for my benefit class to the being rich who will be soaked class.

Which is why looking at those who move and those who do not doesn’t work. Because we already know there’s something different about those who move.

As to why it doesn’t work in reverse that’s also obvious. If you’re in the red heartlands you are told, endlessly, that they’re shite because the other areas stole all the money. If you move blue you find out that this isn’t true: views might therefore change. If you move from blue to red you still find out that this is true, red isn’t shite because others steal all the money. Thus your views don’t change.

That last bit of reasoning is at best arguable. But it’s still a terrible piece of reasoning from their research they’re offering us.

20 comments on “Bloody bad research here

  1. Or, possibly, that moving to an area where thinking about things doesn’t result in immediate social ostracism may allow the odd idea to take route.

    How, though, does this explain Downham Market? Is it that rough an area or is the LHTD just the black swan of the immovably ignorant “not quite a bell-curve”.

  2. “It is the move that is causing the change, because the comparison is with people who don’t move. Yet we don’t find the same with people moving to Labour areas. We think the reason is that people who move to Labour areas are already pretty leftwing, so there is no space for movement. People who move to Tory areas are more variable in their politics.”

    People are not fungible. They are not comparable. People who move to nicer suburbs are, usually, as TW points out, richer. People who don’t have remained poor. Naturally, people usually argue for taking money from other people and giving it to people like them. But people also get older. As they get older, they get more right wing. And move to the suburbs.

    Notice the effect does not work in reverse. Who moves from nice Tory suburbs to inner city sh!tholes? Well, the children of the middle class. The young are usually left wing because it is an argument to take money from people like their parents and give it to people like them.

    There is also a racial component. White people are fleeing the inner cities. Cockneys will be extinct fairly soon. Black or Black-ish people are moving in. The Tories are the party of those who are mildly embarrassed about being White. The Labour Party is the party of those deeply ashamed of being White and/or those who actively hate White people. When White people have had enough of the vibrant crime ridden sh!tholes that are the inner cities, where they are always to blame for everything, they move to the suburbs. Non-Whites have yet to follow them in large numbers.

    But mainly the generational thing.

  3. So people who have their horizons broadened, or are already broad when they encounter lefty politics, are more likely to reject lefty politics? And the only people who adopt them don’t appear to know anything else? Now there’s a fucking surprise!

  4. Well, on a sample of one, it certainly doesn’t work.

    Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause for Billy Bragg.

    Given his propensity for whining out lefty protest songs, I always saw Billy as living in a squat in Bromley by Bow, eating cold chicken soup out of the can.

    Not so. Our commie Billy lives in a £2 million spread in Burton Bradstock on the Dorset coast.

    Seven of the eight MPs for Dorset are Tory, with one LibDem thrown i.

  5. SMFS – “But people also get older. As they get older, they get more right wing.”

    Well, the facts of life are conservative. People with the inclination to learn tend to put aside youthful left-leaning idealism as they gain experience. They grow up.

    The opposite rarely happens. You don’t tend to see people get more left wing as they gather more experience of life. To be a socialist in your teens requires little suspension of disbelief. To still be a socialist in your forties requires a Peter Pan like refusal to become an adult.

    john miller – “a round of applause for Billy Bragg”

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

  6. Another sample of one, Tony Benn

    “He immatures as he ages” spoken by ? Harold Wilson

  7. “Well, the facts of life are conservative.”
    Are they? House prices will continue to rise, ad infinitum? The world is there to serve nice people like us (& our children) & will never bite us in the ass.
    Personally i’ve never seen the slightest difference between Labour & Conservative. Both with overwhelming senses of entitlement & very little grasp of reality.

  8. Steve,

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    It’s something I occasionally wonder – how many old lefties changed their mind, but depend on a lefty audience for survival? Imagine if Polly Toynbee realised that Milton Friedman had got it right one day – how easy would it be to write that and have to get a whole new audience?

    Billy Bragg has written 2 really good songs. There’s a couple of good ones, too. But I could say the same about Roddy Frame and Pete Wylie, neither of whom has the same recognition (and both sing better). What keeps him doing festivals is that he’s a lefty and other lefties like him.

    I know David Mamet turned from the left, but David Mamet was never upfront left in his work, and he actually made most of his money doing screenplays for hollywood like The Untouchables and Ronin, with his own film work is really done more for the love of it.

  9. bloke in spain – Quite. That’s why I didn’t say the facts of life were Tory. 🙂

    The Stigler – “how many old lefties changed their mind, but depend on a lefty audience for survival?”

    There’s got to be quite a few who have to consciously stop themselves from lapsing into badthink. Jumping off the progressive bandwagon would not only be bad for their careers, but worse, would cost them friends and status within their peer group. Most people are go-along-to-get-along types at heart.

    I’ve nothing particularly against Billy Bragg, but can’t imagine he’d be rich and famous if he didn’t appeal to a certain ideological niche. His voice just isn’t very good.

  10. john miller:

    …a round of applause for Billy Bragg.

    Well, yes, actually. I’ve come to think of Bragg as England’s answer to His Bobness: a pretty good songwriter whose songs are best left to others to sing.

    That said, however, the four or five times I’ve heard him on the panel of R4’s ‘Any Questions’, he’s actually come across as quite sensible and not at all like the stereotypical Leftie I’d come to think of him as.

    He’s an interesting chap, one whom I, as a thorough-going libertarian, would be happy to spend an evening in a pub talking to.

  11. PST,

    That’s stretching it a bit. He’s got a couple of really good songs – A New England and Between The Wars, but that’s about it. Dylan’s got maybe a dozen songs that we all know.

    I think he’s also a bit of a one-off. Most songwriters with bad vocals don’t bother singing. They create a band that they’re a musician in and get a good singer, or just write stuff and produce it for others.

  12. The Stigler – “It’s something I occasionally wonder – how many old lefties changed their mind, but depend on a lefty audience for survival? Imagine if Polly Toynbee realised that Milton Friedman had got it right one day – how easy would it be to write that and have to get a whole new audience?”

    Well pretty much the entire more or less Jewish contingent at the Guardian did so realise. Almost all of them left for the slightly less left wing Times or the like. David Aaronovitch for instance. Nick Cohen is probably the best example. Which did take guts as he took on virtually all his former supporters. Loudly. At length. Christopher Hitchens too (and yes, he is not Jewish) but then he was just nuts.

    People do it. You have to admire their courage when they do. But the Right is much more willing to forgive and forget than the Left. Unless you were a Nazi philosopher. Then the Left will ignore any peccadillos. But this lot did not depend on the Guardian for a living because the Times would take them in.

  13. SMFS,

    Good points.

    One thing about the left is that they don’t have many converts because the traffic nearly all runs left to right. Once someone embraces the Smith/Friedman viewpoint of minimal, lightweight government they rarely go back.

  14. The Stigler – “One thing about the left is that they don’t have many converts because the traffic nearly all runs left to right. Once someone embraces the Smith/Friedman viewpoint of minimal, lightweight government they rarely go back.”

    At its heart, Leftism is about people trying to obtain power to take things away from people they don’t like and give them to people they do. That is why the Nazis were actually socialists – they took from Jews and gave to chosen party members. As people get older, they acquire more things. Moving from one category to another.

    (And then there is the sex thing. Socialism is about making it easier to sleep with other people’s daughters. Conservatism, with a small “c”, is about protecting your own. Which is why the Guardian supports people like Boko Harem)

    But sometimes people do go the other way. Spain used to have a Carlist movement. As political movements go, this one was odd. They held that Spain is ruled by the wrong, and far too liberal, branch of the Royal family. They rejected the mild concessions to the liberal world the Spanish monarchy made in the 19th century, although the direct cause of the split was the refusal to acknowledge that a woman could be heir to the Throne. But they had a problem in the 70s when their heir apparent declared himself a Trotskyite.

  15. @Steve
    “bloke in spain – Quite. That’s why I didn’t say the facts of life were Tory. :)”

    Oh if you’re talking conservative, with a small ‘c’, there’s not h’apence of difference between the pair of them. Neither are willing to face up to we’re now living in yesterday’s future.

  16. @PST somewhere I’ve got a recording from some Radio 4 prog in which Billy argues vehemently that artists should be able to sell their own music, disintermediated, straight to the fans via the Internet. Most angry about the continued existence of the old record company model, he was.

    Not a thought given to the secretaries, A&R men, cleaners, PR girls, CD pressing plant employees, sleeve work artists, delivery drivers, record shop owners etc.

    He also married to a potter-heiress. He could give away every penny he makes and still live in luxury. Perhaps he does.

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