phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Shift to the left

Posted by David FG on February 20, 2005

In Reply to: Shift to the left posted by Serge Liberman on February 20, 2005

: As well as in medicine, "a shift to the left" is used other fields as well. In politics, it signifies a shift towards the more social democratic, socialist, communist end of the political spectrum, in these forms moving further from the "right" which tends to be more conservative, reactionary in orientation. In religion, the shift to the left is a leaning away from the more traditional, literalist, fundamentalist interpretation of religious doctrines as recorded in scriptures. The same applies in personal and public opinion - the shift towards more liberal laissez-faire positions from those held as more binding upon an earlier age. While, in statistics, it refers to the left-tending skewing of the normal distribution graph or bell curve when making statistical surveys, eg of changes in public opinion, in population age groups, male-female spread of populations, household income trends, and so on.
: All this is probably self-evident. But - while I remain very ready to be corrected - I believe that the "left-right" model is based upon the bicameral parliamentary seating division in which (in the UK, say) the "progressive, reformist" Whigs sat on the left side of the House and the conservative Tories on the right (which may, in turn, be based on some other precursor model).
: Am ready to hear any other views.

: Serge.

I was under the impression that the terms 'left' and 'right' in politics referred to the French Assembly post-revolution in which the more radical members sat on the left, the more conservative on the right.

I don't think it works in the UK, or sysems based upon it, where the party in power (of whatever political colour) sits on the right, the opposition on the left. This would mean (reductio ad absurdum) that a Communist government would sit on the right, a Fascist opposition on the left.


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