Social Credit: Pragmatic Coalition or Ideological Right?
The Social Credit party faces a complex political environment. It is an organization which claims to represent one pole in a simple bipolar party system. Yet it also claims to represent a diverse, free enterprise coalition of supporters of major federal parties in provincial politics. This Janus-like character inevitably leads to internal tension and raises a number of questions with respect to the structure of opinion within the party, not the least of which concern party cohesiveness and ideological ties with the major federal parties. In this chapter we consider these issues as we explore the dimensions of ideology and opinion structure among our Social Credit activists.
In the survey research literature, the term ideology has been given a variety of meanings. Some scholars reserve the term for opinions on issues that are structured in the sense of being correlated with one another ( Converse 1964; Rapoport 1986). Others use the term to refer to opinions on issues which relate to class interests, including issues such as labour rights, social welfare and government regulation ( Ornstein and Stevenson 1984). Still others simply use the term to refer to aggregates of opinion in terms of a left-right continuum whether the issues are directly relevant to class interests or not ( Blake et al. 1988).
In this study, we use the term ideology in a comprehensive sense because we think it useful to examine attitudes that relate to both class and other left-right issues, and because we think it important as well to look at the patterns of relationships among policy atti-