@nzlabour @NZGreens There just isn’t no missing million out there hanging out for that hard-left clarion call @rsalmond

Rob Salmond has written a great blog this week on the ideological spectrum of New Zealand voters based on the New Zealand Election Study.

In the course of his blog he drove a tremendously big stake through the heart of the old left fantasy that if Labour or Greens goes left, a large block of voters not voting for them now or not voting at all (the missing million voters) will shake lose its false consciousness and follow you:

But “pulling the centre back towards the left” is massively, massively hard.

You win those people over by being relevant to them as they are, not by telling them they’re worldview needs a rethink. It is just basic psychology. Tell people they were right all along; they like you. Tell people they were wrong all along; they don’t.

And if you win a majority of centrists, you win. The New Zealand Election Study series records six MMP elections in New Zealand – the three where Labour did best among centrists were the three Labour won.

That’s another message from the academic study I quoted above – in Germany, Sweden, and the UK, the elections where the left did best among centrists were the elections where they took power. As their popularity among centrists declined, so did their seat share.

What is more disturbing for the old left fantasy of the missing million is voting for the Labour Party or Greens is correlated with ignorance rather than knowledge.

Furthermore, the more people know about economics, the less likely they are to vote for the left as Eric Crampton explains:

When they get to the polls, the ignorant are significantly more likely to support the Labour Party (4% increase in predicted probability for a standard deviation increase in ignorance) and significantly less likely to support the Green party (1% decrease in predicted probability) and United Future (0.5% decrease in predicted probability).

Understanding economics strongly predicted supporting National in 2005, which comes as little surprise: the National Party leader was former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. A standard deviation increase in our “economic thinking” index correlates with a 5.7% increased probability of voting National, a 1.5% decreased probability of voting NZ First, and a slight decrease in the probability of voting United Future and Maori.

To make matters worse, Crampton found that joining political organisations does little to cure ignorance of politics or otherwise lead to a political awakening. Sometimes active political affiliation reduces ignorance, other times such organisational membership intensifies ignorance.

via Salmond on the centre | Kiwiblog and StephenFranks.co.nz » Blog Archive » Why the left wants everyone to vote.

Moral panic about inequality in the UK and New Zealand compared


More heat than light in the recent inequality debate


How much of the political spectrum is neoliberal (and under the Svengali influence of the @MontPelerinSoc)?

When I feud with strangers on other blogs about neoliberalism, I often asked them is to nominate which parties are neoliberal. Obviously the right-wing parties are neoliberal.

What is routine, however, is for this remnant of the Left over Left to nominate the Labour Party as a cauldron of neoliberalism as well. Tony Blair, Bob Hawke, and Paul Keating are hate figures as is Roger Douglas in New Zealand.

Neoliberalism is more about smearing labour parties than the right-wing parties, and, in particular, factional enemies further to the right with you on the old Left. Looks like to be a neoliberal is what it was like to be a capitalist running dog in the days of the cultural revolution.

These days it’s quite common to nominate the Mont Pelerin Society as the global ringmaster of neoliberalism.

bookjacketCover: The Road from Mont Pèlerin in HARDCOVER

As global ringmasters go, they have a crap website. The super profits of supreme power should at least extend to a decent website.

Eric Crampton was tweeting live from his first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society a few weeks ago. I asked him how did it feel to be in the inner circles of supreme power. His tweet was they must hold all the conspiratorial meetings in side rooms because he did not feel any more powerful than the previous day at his desk at his University

No one had ever heard of the Mont Pelerin society until the Twitter Left put it at the centre of a global conspiracy.

It is much easier to do to explain your defeat at elections on a conspiracy, rather than on your ideas having been tried and failed time and again.

These allegations  of a secret conspiracy led by the Mont Pelerin society is a rarity in the stock and fair of conspiracy theories. The leader of the conspiracy is actually unknown. Most conspiracy theories allege that the secret machinations are by relatively well-known people you are trying to smear or don’t like.

These allegations of a global conspiracy led by academics is the ultimate ego trip by proxy. Academics dream of supreme power. When they do not have this power themselves, they fantasise that the right-wingers at the other end of the corridor at their university have it instead.

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.  - Thomas Sowell

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