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Analyse the ideological differences between the three main political parties in Britain and explain their structural set ups Essay

It is difficult to compare the ideologies of the three major political parties today, as they do not contrast as sharply as they did in former times. In the years before and after the Second World War the Labour party was pushing for a new social order which emphasised the rights of the working man. The Conservative party preferred to defend the rights of the ruling classes and the masses voted accordingly. That is a very simplistic appraisal but the social classes voted largely according to their social circumstances.

Today the electorate is much more diverse and so it is necessary to compare the policies of the parties to discover the differences. The Lib Dems tend to take a soft line on almost everything. Historic Lib Dem ideology is described as “Those occupying the center ground usually represent various kinds of compromise between typical right and left wing ideology” (UK Politics, page89) Their main ambition appears to be a fairer tax system which would mean the richer contribute more. At the moment they claim that the poorer people are the largest contributors.

They want to replace Council Tax with a local Wealth Tax linked to earnings. They are against ID cards they preach tolerance on sexuality and race, place emphasis on drug rehabilitation and prison education. They support membership of the European Union completely but would also transfer some Government bodies to the private sector and relocate some of the Civil Service to the provinces. I could not find many more radical pronouncements in their Manifesto. The Party is an individual membership party and is made up of three Federal committees.

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These are Executive, Policy and Conference. The Federal Committee is responsible for the main organisation of the party (directing, co-coordinating and implementing) and is chaired by the President of the party. The conference committee is, as the title suggests, responsible for the two annual conferences including the agendas. The policy committee puts forward all party policy proposals for the general and European elections. The Tories are a bit more specific in some areas.

Their ideology is described as ” Right-Wingers stress freedom or the right of individuals to do as they please and develop their own personalities without interference, especially from governments, which history teaches are potentially tyrannical”. (Politics UK, page 89) In real terms Tory ideology is heavily focused on private enterprise and moves away from nationalization. This ideology bore out during the Thatcherite years when nearly all nationally own services were privatised. In 19-this ideology was responsible for one of if not the longest industrial actions ever seen in the UK, the minors strike.

Led by Arthur Scargill a staunch unionist the miners downed tools for over a year in rebellion of government pit closures. In their policies they concentrate on law and order and would build more prisons, stop the early release scheme and end the paper shuffling for policemen. They also focus on education where they would bring back classroom discipline, and cut the paperwork for teachers. They would place an annual quota on immigration, introduce 24-hour surveillance at ports and stop short-term visas being turned into long term stays.

In health they would encourage NHS dentistry, which used to be the prerogative of the Labour Party, end hospital bureaucracy and clean up the hospitals. They intend to take a new approach on Europe and would fight certain European policies, which affect this country adversely. The Party HQ basically runs the Conservative Party. The party does have different forums for things like policy etc. but the buck stops at the party leader with all decisions. However the 1922 committee has huge influence on party matters but generally provides solid support for the leadership.

So-called “New Labour” is not the Labour Party our grandfathers knew, infact historic Labour ideology where nationalism and socialism were intragal in party policy have gone! No longer do they support the unions that in the past gave the working man a voice and indeed actually started the Labour Party in UK politics. Their policies of today are in many instances further right than the conservatives. On health they concentrate on one fact. They have poured more money into Health than any other previous party which means more doctors and more nurses.

There does not however, appear to be any attempt to monitor how that money is spent. They claim that crime is down, that we have more policemen than ever before and that we, the general public, are safer. They have introduced community service officers, anti social behavior powers and intensive supervision of young offenders. We now have the best ever primary school services, 28000 more teachers, 10500 more support staff and better secondary schools. They claim that 53% of secondary school pupils are receiving at least 5 subjects at A-C grade.

They have expanded higher education so that now 44% of students claim university places as opposed to the 6% in the 1960’s. They are also socially engineering the better universities to take more young people from ‘all social backgrounds’ (regardless of ability). They have abolished up front fees as opposed to top up fees but I’m not sure what the difference is! They have increased defense spending and claim that the British Army all over the world is a force for good. They have also introduced a better welfare system for the families of forces’ members.

They state we now have a firm, fast and fair asylum system and they will deal with the abuse of the immigration system. There is also public support for their controlled migration system and ‘Britain is in the middle of the European league table of asylum applications per capita’. They have brought licensing laws up to date. The Licensing Act 2003 gives police greater powers, local residents a greater say in what premises open in their area and clamps down on crime disorder and anti-social behavior perpetrated by the minority.

The objective is to allow the majority more freedom and choice about how to spend their leisure time! The ultimate authority of The Labour Party is the party conference which decides party policy framework for manifestoes. However the party is made up of the following:- Branch (BLP), Constituency (CLP), Local and regional policy forums, National Policy Forum (NPF), Policy commissions and the National Executive Committee (NEC). Party members from the different branches, constituencies and forums choose delegates to attend the conference.

Identify two contrasting electoral systems:- There are two main systems of election in use in the western world today;- Proportional representation and first past the post (FPTP). There are several types of PR but none achieve perfect proportionality. FPTP is the system used in the UK in times of general elections and broadly works as follows: – In a ‘normal’ British national election or by-election (i. e. excluding the newer formats that have been used in recent regional elections for devolution), those who wish to fight an election register to do so.

When the election takes place, for example a by-election for a constituency MP for Westminster, the person who wins the highest number of votes within that constituency, wins that election. FPTP is as clear and as brutal as that. Only in the very rarest of cases has a re-count been ordered due to the closeness of that specific result, but in the vast majority of cases, FPTP allows for a clear winner. In this example, the clear winner is candidate A with a majority over Candidate B of 5,000.

FPTP is a cheap and simple way to hold an election as each voter only has to place one cross on the ballot paper. Counting of the ballot papers is usually fast and the result of a British general election is usually known the very next day after polling. Ballot papers are usually simple (though they can drift towards being confusing if the number of candidates is large) and the voter only needs to put one clear mark on their paper which should be easily counted thus removing the prospect of the confusion that haunted the American 2000 election which degenerated into “when is a mark not a mark ? (www. usatoday. com) FPTP has created within Great Britain a political system that is essentially stable as politics is dominated by just two parties. The chaos of the political systems of Italy and Israel is avoided using FPTP. Minority governments have occurred in the UK using FPTP, but the life span of those governments was limited. In recent years, governments have been strong as a result of the clear mandate given to it using the FPTP system. Discuss different ways people’s behaviour of voting in Britain is influenced.

Voting behaviour in Britain has until roughly the 1980’s always largely been influenced by class. Generally speaking and certainly in the 1960’s, the working man voted Labour, although there were divisions inside this grouping between skilled and unskilled. Skilled labour and this could include junior management, could and did include themselves in the middle classes. The Labour Party was the working man’s party with factories and general industry attracting over 90% of labour votes in the Post War period of 1945-1970.

These people lived in council houses, drank in local public houses and were heavily involved in unionism within the workplace. They felt they were always struggling to maintain their rights as the working classes. Now, the middle classes generally voted Tory. The conservatives represented this class of people and saw themselves very different from the Labour voters. Things started to change in the 1980’s and the public started to vote outside their traditional voting class. This also had a lot to do with previous typical labour voters moving up the social ladder.

Perhaps owning their own home or being promoted from the shop floor to junior management. These individual changes in circumstances influenced their voting behaviour. Today however, voting in class has all but been eradicated, not by changes in personal circumstances but by changes in party politics and more commonly today by specific issues that affect the individual in the UK today. Unemployment, law & order, health & education and taxation all play a huge part in voting behaviour. Lets now examine other factors that influence voting.

This year Spain held a general election. The People’s Party was in government at the time. They supported and indeed provided troops for the American led invasion of Iraq. The subject of the Iraq invasion has been a worldwide topic for debate but despite this they were still favorites to be re-elected following the election. “On 11 March, ten nearly- simultaneous bombs exploded on crowded commuter trains in the Spanish capital, killing 191 people and injuring more than 2,000.

The attacks were blamed on militants linked to al-Qaida. ” (www. news. scotsman. co. k) The bombs were detonated a day before the Spanish general elections. 191 people died and opinions in Spain changed overnight. The Socialist Worker’s Party vehemently opposed the Iraq war and in their manifesto stated they would remove Spanish troops from Iraq if elected. With so many recent deaths in the bombing, public opinion changed and The Peoples Party were indeed defeated. Whether the public changed their vote or the bombing brought out voters that would not normally have voted is still unclear but the incoming government removed Spanish troops from Iraq within weeks!

Going back a few years to the Thatcher Government, she ended up being one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers of modern times in Great Britain. With massive national sell offs including hundreds of coal mines (as discussed above) she was due to be defeated in the following general election opinion polls. Britain was at an all time low. Unemployment was the highest it had ever been; the import/export deficit was huge but then in 1982 Argentina invaded a little known group of British owned islands in the South Atlantic called the Falklands Islands.

The Iron Lady dealt with this situation just like she did everything else, unfaltering and uncompromisingly she sent a quarter of the British armed services 4000 miles round the world to take the islands back by force. A resounding victory for the British ensued and overnight Margaret Thatcher was a hero in everyone’s eyes including the historically working class voters. In conclusion the ideology of modern political parties in the UK does not differ greatly. Voting behaviour therefore is influenced to a far greater extent by factors outside party policies.

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