Wednesday, June 08, 2011

About that Manning Centre poll

When an advocacy organization releases a poll, it's usually done to promote the group's agenda.
In other words, the group is saying, "Hey look, this poll shows everybody agrees with us, therefore we must be right."

Case in point is a poll released by the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.

The Manning Centre people tell us this poll indicates "traditional ideological differences across partisan lines, on most big issues, have virtually disappeared.'

Or as Allan Gregg, one of the people behind the poll, declared, “What I think you are seeing here is something almost the equivalent of end-of-ideology epoch There is no major differences left among the electorate in terms of directionally where we should be going.”

Gregg bases this startling claim on the way respondents answered a series of "value" questions.

For instance, the poll found wide support for  notions about government  "learning from the past"; "governments should be concentrating on the problems of today rather than tomorrow” and government should move with “caution rather than boldness.”

The poll also supposedly indicates Canada has evolved its own “unique strain of conservatism", a strain that's different from the American-style Republican/Tea Party version.

Our conservatism apparently combines, "free market principles, moderation, incrementalism and social justice.”

But more than that, the Manning poll indicates this Canadian-style conservatism, “has become mainstream as the ideological ‘centre’ has shifted to a new conservative orthodoxy.”

And this is all due to Prime Minister Stephen Harper who as Gregg put it has “moderated the image of Conservatives to conform more with the kind of conservatism being expressed by the population. 

Gregg also says the country has become less conservative in traditional “American conservative values” over the last year.


I don't think so. In fact, this whole poll is a bunch of hooey.

Here's why.

The Manning Centre makes the mistake of using a poll to reveal what people say, as opposed to what they really think.

First off, most people in general (Americans or Canadians) are wary about change, they want government to protect them, they want their standard of living secured.

Broadly speaking these are "conservative" values I suppose, but they are also human values.

Does this mean ideological differences don't exist?

No it doesn't.  I suspect some of the respondents to the Manning poll who said government should learn from the past, also give money to the NDP or  they may support new taxes on "the rich", others may want a flat tax or more money to health care.

The only way to tell would be to do a careful analysis of cross-tabs and a lot more questions.

In other words, this poll doesn’t really tell us much about the state of ideology in Canada.

But then again, I suspect that wasn’t the overall point of this poll.

My guess is the Manning Centre wants to justify or legitimize the Harper Conservative Party's, Liberal-lite, wishy-washy brand of conservatism.


Werner Patels said...

Bravo, I agree with you 100%, especially the last paragraph. For some time now, I have been having doubts about Preston Manning and where he's headed ideologically. Or is he actually going senile on us?

Anonymous said...

I used to have a lot of respect for Manning and the reform party. They stood for something different. They wanted to repeal the racist phony bilingual bs, they wanted to downsize government, get rid of waste, get rid of this multicultural bs…now Manning and the “conservatives” support the same bs the liberals do. Liberal, Tory same old story, its all spin.

They have a majority and I guarantee you they will not repeal decades of expensive liberal BS, just watch.

Cytotoxic said...

Preston Manning may have always been on the 'dark side'. He turned greeny years ago. Now he's a stooge. I guess with the NCC sucked dry Harper needed a new private lapdog army and ordered up a Manning Center for Harper special.