Political controversy

For the third time, I took to the political forums of Reddit to find out how much support a set of controversial political opinions might receive, and how it breaks down party by party. Over 700 people responded to 20 statements, and gave an answer between 1 and 7, where 1 meant a strong disagreement with the statement and 7 a strong agreement.

I have decided to display the 20 statements here not in the order they were presented, but rather in increasing range between the highest and lowest scores among the seven groups (UKIP, Con, Lib Dem, Green, Lab (pro-Corbyn), Lab (Corbyn neutral) and Lab (anti-Corbyn), i.e. from least controversial to most controversial.

Firstly, a brief look at the demographics of our respondents.




Party voting intention, if an election were held now:



A breakdown of Labour voters:



The first few of our statements were rather uncontroversial and had a range of under 1, so I have merely given these as averages to avoid a messy cluster on one part of the scale.

Reminder: the left of the chart means ‘strongly disagree’ and the right ‘strongly agree’.

“If parents choose to eschew modern medicine and bring a sick child to a faith healer, the state should permanently remove the child before damage can be done. ” [Range = 0.3]

Faith healer



“It is wrong to abort a baby for the sole reason of its gender.” [Range = 0.4]

Gender abortion.jpg


“If I knew I would not get caught, I would consider murder. ” [Range = 0.5]



“Nuclear power is no less safe than renewable energy sources. ” [Range = 0.9]

Nuclear power


“Democracy is overrated. ” [Range = 0.9]



An interesting point to note is that a “controversial opinion” works the opposite way for individuals compared to groups: as all 7 groups were more or less in agreement for the 5 above statements, you could argue that they are uncontroversial, yet that also means that any individual disagreeing with the average *is* controversial. Conversely, if the 7 groups are not at all in agreement, while that might mean it is a controversial issue, any individual with an opinion on an extreme end will not be without company.


And now to our more party-divisive issues.

[Note: in the charts below, L+ = Labour (pro-Corbyn), L- = Labour (anti-Corbyn) and LN = Labour (Corbyn neutral).]

“There is nothing wrong with euthanasia. ”



“People who take homeopathic remedies then die deserve no sympathy. ”



“Russia is an enemy of the West.”


This issue appears to be a lot more random than others in terms of party allegiance, as the Greens and Conservatives are in close agreement, with UKIP and the anti-Corbyn Labour faction taking the end positions.


“The Middle East would be a much better place if it weren’t for Western Intervention.”

Middle East.jpg


“The government should be able to read people’s emails, texts etc in order to fight terrorism.”


N.b. the “L-” on 2.2 should be a LN. Am I going to change it? Nope.


“A degree in English is intrinsically less worthwhile than a degree in engineering. ”



“Most poor people are in that situation through their own actions rather than from factors beyond their control. ”

Poor people.jpg


“The majority of black people do not face serious racism in the UK. ”



“Women’s rights have now more or less caught up in the UK, and feminists should focus their attention on more serious issues abroad. ”



“The death penalty should be re-introduced. ”

Death penalty.jpg


“Donald Trump would be a better president than George W Bush.”



“The beliefs of a majority of Muslims in the UK are incompatible with modern Britain.”


And now to our top three most controversial issues:


“Practicality aside, there is nothing unfair about a top tax band of 90%.”

Top tax.jpg



“It is preferable for children to have a parent of each gender than same-sex parents.”

Gay parents.jpg

And, with a range of 3.8, our most controversial statement:

“It is immoral to have nuclear weapons as they are fundamentally civilian-targeting weapons.”

Nuclear weapons.jpg


An interesting point that the final issue highlights is how frequently the pro-Corbyn faction of Labour overlaps with the Greens, and the same between the anti-Corbyn faction and the Lib Dems. That said, there are a number of issues where that is not the case, and a few cases where the anti-Corbyn faction took a ‘more left’ view than the pro-Corbyn faction, for example on sympathy for those who take homeopathic medicine or on Donald Trump.





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