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 What are the differences between the political parties?

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Number of posts : 62
Age : 47
Location : Solihull, England
Registration date : 2008-07-21

PostSubject: What are the differences between the political parties?   Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:04 am

Are all the political parties the same in the UK nowadays? If they are different, what are the differences?

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Number of posts : 102
Age : 47
Location : Birmingham, UK
Registration date : 2008-07-23

PostSubject: Re: What are the differences between the political parties?   Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:43 am

The Conservative party is traditionally the party of the businessman and the “upper classes”. Its traditional membership core was people whose main wish was lower taxes and policies that helped keep or increase individual wealth. It was often referred to as the “Nasty” or the “Selfish” party, because it appeared that many of its policies were more directed towards protecting the interests of certain groups within society that had wealth, than dealing with other social issues. This is traditionally the right wing of British politics.

The Labour party is traditionally the party of the worker and the “lower classes”. Its traditional membership core were people who’s main wish was more spending on society and sharing the wealth. It was often referred to as the “PC” or the “taxation” party because it appeared that many of its policies were more directed towards protecting the interests of certain groups within society that did not have wealth, than dealing with economic issues designed to increase wealth. This is traditionally the left wing of British politics.

The Liberal Democratic Party is traditionally the party of the centre ground. Its traditional membership core were people that held liberal views of society yet were less welcoming of higher taxation to pay for social policy. It was often referred to as the “middle class liberals” party because many of its supporters were disaffected members of the Labour party that although supporting the ideas of social inclusion, were unhappy with many of the more extreme socialist policies of Labour. It came about as a combination of the Liberal party and the SDP (Social Democratic Party) which was, in turn, formed by disaffected members of the Labour party. This is traditionally the centre (albeit slightly left of centre) of British politics.

Historically, the way that politics has worked in Britain is that the Conservative and Labour parties have alternated holding power between themselves. There would be a number of years of Conservative power, where policy was more directed towards creating wealth and lowering taxes but less social spending, which would then be followed by a number of years of Labour power, where policy was more directed towards social improvement and less towards wealth creation, often raising taxes again to pay for the spending on social improvement.

This see-saw continued for many years in British government, with neither party remaining in power long enough to create too much damage to the areas of society that they tended to neglect. After a few years of Conservatives cutting spending on social improvements, such as education, health or housing, in order to concentrate on lowering taxes and encouraging business, then Labour would be elected and they would put taxes back up again and spend money on fixing any damage to the social improvements, neglecting business creation to a great extent, then Conservatives would be elected and they would lower taxes again and concentrate on business again. And so this cycle went on.

However, in the 1970’s, the Labour party became incredibly unpopular with the electorate due to a series of national strikes, increased power of the Unions, and the feeling of the electorate that Labour had gone too far in giving influence to social pressure groups. This led to the “Winter of Discontent” where it seemed to the electorate that the Unions became too greedy in their looking after the interests of their members, rather than caring about society as a whole, leading to people only working three days per week, extreme increases in inflation to pay for the constant pay rises and the fall of the British economy.

There came along a new and charismatic leader of the Conservative party who did things completely different from how they had been done before. Her policies were incredibly right wing and authoritarian, and many people disliked her policies and what she was doing, because she systematically set out to break the power of the Unions and concentrate on rebuilding British business interests. However much people disliked Mrs Thatcher’s policies and leadership style, they were more afraid of a return to how things were before she came to power, so would not vote Labour back in again. This led to over 10 years of Mrs Thatcher’s policies, causing irreparable damage to social structures within Britain. She sold off the nationalised companies into private hands, greatly underinvested in education, health and sold off the social housing. Everything that could be sold off to raise money to promote business and keep taxes low was tried because she was such a strong leader that few dared to disagree with her, and when they did, they were ignored.

Mrs Thatcher’s policies and strength influenced an entire generation of British people. Many young people grew up with never knowing any other government in Britain, and so it was accepted that this was how it was done in British politics. Also, Mrs Thatcher had encouraged attitudes of selfishness and individualism in the British people, a brilliant tactic to remain in power, as selfishness and greed are natural and powerful forces in the human psyche and are completely at odds with left wing policies. So, the more people became selfish, individualistic and greedy, the less likely they were to ever vote again for a left wing political party.

Labour recognised this change in the psyche of the British electorate and had to change their image in order to ever hope to be elected again. The “militant” and “loony left” movements within the Labour party were forcibly removed, Labour rebranded themselves as “New Labour” and completely disassociated itself from any “Socialist” connotations (socialism having become an unpopular idea in such a right wing society and with the fall of the former Soviet Union). They moved towards the centre ground of British politics and courted the business sector by copying much of the style of Mrs Thatcher.

This is where the leadership seriously miscalculated the reactions of the British people. They felt that because they were elected by copying many of Mrs Thatcher’s policies, that this is what the electorate truly wanted. The truth is that Labour didn’t win the next few elections, but more that once again, the people did not wish to vote for the Conservative party in case there was a return to Thatcherism (just as they had been previously been unwilling to vote Labour in case there was a return to the Winter of Discontent). Mr Blair, as the leader of the Labour party, saw their continued electoral success and misinterpreted this as being support for his style of copying Mrs Thatcher. Once again, he ignored and rode roughshod over anyone that disagreed with him, just as Mrs Thatcher had done before him.

However, the Conservative party had realised that their image had been tarnished by Thatcherism and that if they were ever to gain power again, they had to be seen to distance themselves from those policies, so after a number of changes of leadership, they finally settled on a leader that was similar in style and image to Mr Blair, and a similar move to the centre of British politics to how Labour made themselves electable again.

Just as Mr Blair was incredibly unpopular with the core membership of the Labour party for moving away from how the Labour party was traditionally meant to be, so Mr Cameron is similarly unpopular with the core membership of the Conservative party for the same reasons. However, just as Labour felt they had to move to the centre ground in order to be elected again after their unpopularity after the 1970’s, so the Conservatives feel that if it worked for Labour, so it may work for them too and so they are moving to the centre ground too in order to distance themselves from the reputation of Mrs Thatcher.

The electorate has been damaged by the culture of “spin” that was introduced by the Labour party, where everything appeared to be changed to make the government appear better than they really were. This means that the electorate now does not believe anything that any politician tells them, as they feel that they have been lied to too often to fall for it again.

Also, just as Mrs Thatcher had done many times in her time in government, Mr Blair has made it clear that any dissent or disagreement with his policies will not be tolerated or even considered. The most obvious example of this was his decision to follow America into a conflict in Iraq, despite the majority of the electorate being against this policy.

This has led to a combination of apparent apathy and disinterest amongst much of the electorate. Most people, when asked, say “I am not interested in politics, because it doesn’t matter anyway, all the parties are the same, just as bad as each other, and none of them listen to anything anyone says anyway, so there is no point in getting involved”. Even direct action, such as protest or marching has been actively “discouraged” by successive governments, meaning that even when people feel strongly about something, they have no way to express their opinions any longer.

The percentage of the electorate that votes is falling more and more as people become more and more alienated from the issue. This strongly benefits the politicians that prefer to not have their policies argued or disagreed with, but seriously damages the country because even the most benign of leaders will make bad decisions when they know that can get away with whatever they do because the electorate are too weak, bullied, apathetic and alienated to do anything about it.
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