North, East, South, and West are our main cardinal directions, but when it comes to politics, we generally have just left and right. Between these two extremes lie a political spectrum that politicians, parties, media, and citizens live on.
The main two political parties in the United States are the Democratic and Republican party. In the United Kingdom, they are the Conservative and Labour Party. The location of each on the spectrum can be viewed in my self-made diagram below.
Being in London while the latest general election was at its peak was very interesting because I got to see the U.K. political spectrum in play. As citizens and media outlets expressed their political opinions, you could start to put the pieces of the spectrum together. You could even see the shift of the spectrum as you moved across the city.
One stark difference I noticed here in London is the increased presence of newspapers in people’s lives. Along with the many other things Londoners pass on the streets, newspapers are always there. Even on the Tube, you can find people reading them and leaving them behind for the next person to catch up on. This plays a big role in the public perception of newspapers and how people consume their news.
So how do Londoners consume their news?
Jeff and Betty, late 70s
This couple consumes their news primarily through radio. Stations they like are BBC’s Channel Four and World Service.
“It’s all speech, and there is good variety. The news is every hour, and the Today program is from six to nine. It’s very informative.”
Political Spectrum Affinity
Jeff: “We are more left than right, so social responsibility allied with freedom of the individual. We’re both Liberal Democrats, and I’ve just been campaigning [in the election]. We didn’t do very well, but we tried hard and did our best. We don’t care much for the Sun or the Daily Mail, but we read the Telegraph because its very funny. They have some great columnist. We like the Guardian, but they can be a bit boring like a lot of left publications.”
Betty: “60 odd years ago when I was young, I took what was dead in the Manchester Guardian before it became the Guardian we know today. It’s always been a great newspaper and a great tradition.”
Kaite, Alena, and May, mid to late 20s
Alena and May like listening to LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation) on the radio, while Katie is an avid BBC watcher.
May: “I started listening to Radio Four two to three years ago because I feel like they go in depth into a topic. It might be something I don’t know much about, but by the time I listen to it, I feel like I’ve got quite a good round of knowledge on it.”
Alena: “LBC go into depth as well. They get people in who are relevant to that news story and have the public discuss its issues. They don’t just give you information and that’s that. They use the information so you can formulate your own opinion based on everyone’s opinions.”
These girls identified as left on the spectrum. They mostly get their news online, although they are not big Twitter fans for news, and they only use a little bit of Facebook.”
Want to know what your U.K. political affinity is? Take this quiz to find out: Political Quiz