YouGov asks: What is it about Lib Dems and Sci-Fi?

TARDISYouGov has the hard evidence for something that a lot of us have suspected for a long time – that “There is a strange correlation between supporting the Liberal Democrats and being a fan of Science Fiction“.

YouGov regularly polls its panel of 400,000 people (including me, as it happens) so has built up some rich data. The survey last year on Doctor Who showed that while 31% of the population are interested in the programme, that jumps to 41% for Lib Dem supporters. (Nick Barlow blogged about the survey at the time)

Time and time again the Liberal Democrats appeared as the most correlated political party for Sci-Fi related topics. Movies like The MatrixBlade RunnerAlienThe Fifth ElementStargateBack to the Future and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and sci fi classic books like Hitchhikers’ Guide to the GalaxyDune and I Robot – ALL show positive correlations to support for the Lib Dems.

All this is borne out by the number of Lib Dem bloggers who write about Star Trek, Doctor Who and other Sci-Fi themes, most notably Millennium Elephant, Lib Dem Blogger of the Year in 2010 – here’s his erudite review of the Christmas 2013 episode of Doctor Who. Jennie Rigg was exhausted after the 50th episode last November, and even Jonathan Calder is not immune to a bit of Doctor Who speculation.  Olga Ivannikova admits that she loves Doctor Who because of “its philosophy of peace, friendship, hope and goodness in all creatures”, And Andrew Hickey has written a book of essays on Doctor Who titled “Fifty Stories For Fifty Years”.

Indeed, our own Caron Lindsay is a Doctor Who fan, who writes about attending a convention last summer. Whilst I try not to miss any episodes, my devotion does not take me to conventions nor get me into costumes, but I did manage to gleefully sneak an image of the Tardis into a post last year.

By Christmas 2008 Doctor Who fans were on tenterhooks at the prospect of the revelation of a new Doctor – Matt Smith was finally announced in January 2009. Stephen Tall speculated on Which Lib Dem MP would you want to be the next Dr Who?, showing a detailed interest himself.

But it is not all about the Doctor. You can also catch Mark Mills ruminating today on the casting for Man of Steel sequel, while Peter Black thinks extra-terrestrial alien attacks should feature in Government policy. The party also has some keen trekkers as well.

YouGov asks:

Is this evidence of the Liberal Democrat ability to think big, and imagine a better world in the future? Is it true that “Science Fiction is a crutch for people who can’t handle reality”? Or is it the other way round…

But perhaps you have  a better explanation?

And you do want to see a picture of Nick Clegg, John Leech and Tardis, don’t you?  LDV readers suggested some excellent captions.

clegg - tardis




* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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  • Thanks for the linkylove Mary <3

  • I just took this as yet more of an attempt to scapegoat and ridicule Liberal Democrats in that lovely old fashioned, jovial, bullying anti-democratic way that Tories and Labour supporters have (when they’re not busy wrecking the country, that is).

    Sorry to rain on your parade, but I’m not sure that it is something we should be highlighting very much really. It just helps the cause of our opponents.

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 4th Feb '14 - 6:09pm

    Sci-fi enthusiasts believe in the occurrence of absolutely improbable events: such as the election of a wholly Liberal Democrat government with a parliamentary majority.

  • Terry Gilbert 4th Feb '14 - 6:10pm

    @Joe – Not forgetting Michael Cobley, who wrote the Humanity’s Fire series, and is a Lib Dem of many years standing!

  • @RC

    And Lib Dems never, ever say or imply anything nasty about other parties, or use research or survey results in a mischievous way ?

  • “I would highly recommend Iain M Banks for its anarchism with a hint of neo-con (though he might not have appreciated that description), …”

    You must be joking, though in the circumstances it’s in rather poor taste.

  • How interesting -I find my self agreeing with Joe Otten about the snootiness shown towards some literature and some TV. Unlike RC, I think we should be celebrating this aspect of the character of our party members. I happily own up to watching the first Dr Who in 1963 and being a fan ever since. ‘Blade Runner’ is certainly one of my top ten films. Whilst I have never read much science fiction, I have always enjoyed Science in film, TV and comics (which posh folk call graphic novels nowadays). As for The Tardis, I wish I could climb into The Tardis and travel into the future when Nick Clegg is no longer leader of the party and our opinion poll ratings are no longer stuck in single figures. But I guess it is only a few months now before he goes so maybe I do not need time travel. I look forward to the woman who takes over as leader arriving before the first woman Dr Who.

  • We need an escape from reality at least for the duration of the programme. Maybe if we Dr Who watchers did not get our ‘fix’ we would be doing drugs instead?

  • Paul in Twickenham 4th Feb '14 - 7:11pm

    My favourite film is Quatermass and the Pit made in 1967 and directed by Roy Ward Baker. I think the story (about an atavistic urge to create a fixed society that rejects anything “different”) tickles my Liberal instincts just the right way. And I think that this is a recurring themenin science fiction.

  • Stuart Mitchell 4th Feb '14 - 7:29pm

    I disagree with @RC. As a Dr Who fan since childhood, these findings can only make me feel more positively towards Lib Dems. There’s no shame in being a fan of Dr Who or other sci-fi any more – the incredible reception to the 50th anniversary shows how much of a revered national institution Who is, much to the amazement of old-school fans like myself who spent a large chunk of the ’80s hanging around at conventions and publishing fanzines, at a time when being a Dr Who fan was about the least cool thing it was possible to be outside of joining the Young Conservatives. Things are very different now.

  • I’m just waiting for us to select a target candidate called Saxon. Imagine the campaign…

  • I cannot abide science fiction.

    Should I be hounded out of the party?


  • jedibeeftrix 4th Feb '14 - 8:18pm

    @ RC – “Sorry to rain on your parade, but I’m not sure that it is something we should be highlighting very much really. It just helps the cause of our opponents.”

    How so? as a fan of Sci-Fi I must ask: is there anything coarse or base about liking sci-fi?

    I am a fan, some of my favourite books include the Nights Dawn Trilogy by Peter F Hamilton.

    If I might cheekily suggest an answer; perhaps it ha something to do with the technocratic bent of the average lib-dem, holding some admiration for the utopian liberalism and logic-ordered societies that abound in these future societies…

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Feb '14 - 8:33pm

    I’ll stick up for RC: he has a point about Lib Dems revelling in their eccentricity rather than normality. However, I think this is a factor with all groups who seek to change the status quo, so I don’t think it should be taken too seriously :).

  • paul barker 4th Feb '14 - 9:51pm

    My Theory is that its because SF is oriented to the Future & the wider Cosmos. Theres even a Novel called “The Outward Urge”. That quest for endless Frontiers runs parallel to Liberal values of expanding Freedom & what are we in Politics for if not to make The Future better than The Past ?

  • Paul in Twickenham 4th Feb '14 - 11:08pm

    @RC – your comment is not to be take seriously, I assume. In this post-ironic post-postmodern world, snobbery about science fiction seems like a nostalgic throwback to the days of cultural apartheid when every class was expected to stick to its own. In the coming months I shall have the pleasure of attending the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen and The Ring at Bayreuth, and I am looking forward to both with relish.

    The idea that an entire branch of culture can be airily dismissed as the domain of nerds or a source of embarrassment is so passe as to be almost quaint rather than annoying.

  • I’d love to see the Lib Dems – or indeed anyone with the remotest access to power and influence – advocating the political and economic models proposed in Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels…

  • Paul in Twickenham 4th Feb ’14 – 11:08pm
    “……I shall have the pleasure of attending the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen and The Ring at Bayreuth, and I am looking forward to both with relish.”

    Paul,, I recall you saying that you are a Fulham supporter. Is the timing of your comment last night signicant? Did you book your trips to Copenhagen and Bayreuth just as soon as Sheffield scored that last minute goal?

  • It’s just an attempt to ridicule the Lib Dems as cranks, rather than a serious contender for power.

    If you’re happy with that, please feel free to revel in it.

    Live long and prosper as someone, I can’t remember who, said once on a show I never watched….

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 5th Feb '14 - 5:03pm

    Now I know why the Liberal Democrats felt justified in reneging on tuition fees — because THE PLEDGE was actually made in another dimension coterminous with our own.

  • Guardian has picked this up. I love their last line:

    ‘I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that…’

  • This is silly. Science fiction is just another genre of fiction, like detective stories or romances or novels and television about political machinations. It’s neither better nor worse for what it is, but is both better and worse depending on the quality of writing. People who refuse to read or watch science fiction because of its genre deprive themselves of (some) good and intelligent writing; people who read or watch nothing but science fiction take in a great deal of very bad writing. But this would be the case even if they restricted themselves to a diet of, say, 19th-century novels of manners.
    Has anyone checked to see whether Liberal Democrats read more or less Jane Austen than members of other parties?

  • Paul In Twickenham 7th Feb '14 - 1:04pm

    There’s a multiple choice quiz relating to this story on The Guardian website today. It concluded that I’m a Liberal Democrat and that my “dream TV watching partner” is Danny Alexander. Hm….

  • The Lib Dems: for people who don’t live in the real world.

  • Ah, so now I know why I have voted LD several times (if not universally). I had sometimes wondered.

    It’s an interesting statistical point, nothing more of cause – I’d be more angry at people dismissing an entire genre of fiction than those making lame jokes about such a connection meaning something positive or negative about LD members. The amusing stat is fair fodder for jokes either way, but dismissing the genre itself is far more offensive.

  • sackcloth and ashes 9th Feb '14 - 4:54pm

    ‘I just took this as yet more of an attempt to scapegoat and ridicule Liberal Democrats in that lovely old fashioned, jovial, bullying anti-democratic way that Tories and Labour supporters have (when they’re not busy wrecking the country, that is)’.

    Excuse me? Which party happens to be part of the Tory-led Coalition right now?

    Maybe the reason why Lib Dems love sci-fi so much is that it means they don’t have to face a reality in which they are both incompetent and despised.

  • Andrew Colman 10th Feb '14 - 11:51pm

    From a “PROWD” sci fi fan.
    I joined the Lib Dems as a party of long term vision rather than short term bribery politics of Labour & the tories. Thus I am not surprised there is a hight proportion of SiFi fandss in the Lib Dems.

    However , in the trappings of power, the Lib Dems are in danger of losing their edge, eg over the lobbying bill. They should look to regain their edge by promoting a land value tax and much tighter restrictions on the use of tax havens to fix the economy. The right wing will not like this and the press will print lots of scare stories, but if we stand firm, the message wil get through and the right wing will be vanquished.

  • Robert Wootton 13th Feb '14 - 9:34pm

    I’d love to see the Lib Dems – or indeed anyone with the remotest access to power and influence – advocating the political and economic models proposed in Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels…
    No one in politics is interested in new political and economic models. Even though politicians of every party describe “the system” as being broken; and departments of state as “not fit for purpose”. They seem to be locked in a time warp; that there “is no alternative”.

    I have not read Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels. Perhaps I should.

    Technology is advancing so fast that science fiction can become science fact very quickly The prime example is Arthur C Clarkes description of a global communication system using geo-stationery satellites.

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