Andrew Norton has started offering some results and analysis from his Australian Political Identity Survey. The prime objective of the survey was to distill what differences, if any, exist between those Australians that self identify as Libertarians and those that identify as Classical Liberals. Well there are a few differences although mostly these are just a matter of degree. On the bulk of the questions the Classical Liberals and the Libertarians are on the same side of the fence. However there is one area where they are quite different that caught my attention and that is their sense of affiliation with the Liberal Democrats (LDP). See the chart reproduced below.
The LDP policy suite takes a moderate Libertarian or what might be called a Classical Liberal position. It does not attempt to be hard core Libertarian in the way that for instance Libertarianz does in New Zealand. There is certainly no advocacy by the LDP for libertarian ideas such as open immigration or income tax abolition. And yet in spite of this positioning the Andrew Norton survey suggests that there is a sharp distinction between the level of appeal that the LDP offers to Libertarians and to Classical Liberals. I don’t know the reason for this however I have a couple of competing theories.
1. Perhaps calling yourself a Libertarians represents in part a strong desire to differentiate from the mainstream. As such Libertarians are those that will most readily support a non-mainstream party. However this is somewhat contradicted by the fact that most Libertarians support the Liberal Party not the LDP.
2. There are LDP policy positions which the LDP manages to divide these groups on. However if this is the case then it must be on policy differences not revealed by the Andrew Norton survey.
3. More Libertarians than Classical Liberals have been exposed to the LDP and it’s policies positions.
I’d be keen to hear other theories or a critique of the theories I’ve offered here. However it is probably best to read Andrew Norton’s full article first.