The terms ‘right wing’ and ‘left wing’ refer to different types of political ideology – how people think society should be run. They are best summed up in relation to people’s views on the economy.
People who are left wing think how much tax people pay should be in proportion to the amount of money they earn. So those who are very wealthy should pay a lot more in tax than those who are on low wages.
The money that is paid in taxes should then be pumped into public services such as health, education, transport etc. so that it benefits all of society.
They argue that this will create a more equal and therefore more prosperous society that everyone contributes to and benefits from in equal measures.
Equality – sometimes also referred to as egalitarianism – is a central theme of left wing thought. People with left wing views believe that everyone is equal and should have the same opportunities in life irrespective of their background.
Left wing ideology believes that the rich should be taxed more to support those who are aren’t as well off such as the sick, vulnerable and disabled. They argue that a strong welfare system means people will be healthier and more able to work and will contribute more to society and put more back into the economy as a result of this.
Left wing people think more rules are needed to ensure big businesses and banks play fair and don’t exploit and take advantage of those who are employed by them or save with them.
Nationalisation is a key feature of left wing ideology. This is where services or industries are run by the government on behalf of the taxpayer – ordinary members of the public. Any profits made go back to the country.
Socialism and communism are left wing ideologies.
As well as believing in economic equality, left wing people are usually passionate about social equality as well. So they are often strongly in favour of equal rights when it comes to issues like race, gender and sexuality.
However, it must be stressed that there are many people with right wing economic views who are also big supporters of equality on these kinds of social issues.