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Party Policies and Ideas

Features of Political Parties today

  • A political party is an organisation that develops set of political goals and policies, which it seeks to convert into political action by obtaining government office, or a share in government, or by influencing the government of the day. It pursues its goals by mobilising public opinion in its favour, selecting candidates for office, competing at elections and identifying suitable political leaders.
  • Political parties have to be ORGANISED, a vague and disorganised of people will find it difficult to create a coherent political programme. Small parties like UKIP find it difficult to organise themselves at first.
  • Parties must DEVELOP POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES to present to the electorate in order to secure the election of their candidates. Behind these policies lies an ideology.
  • Large parties have the primary goal of SECURING OF GOVERNMENT OFFICE. Smaller parties like the Lib Dems have to be realistic and aim for seats first rather than government office.
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Party Policies and Ideas

  • If parties are to make progress they must gain support of their policies, by devoting as much time to campaigning as possible.
  • When they are in a position to fight elections it must select suitable candidates to do this job.

Functions of Political Parties

  • To develop policies and programmes , which becomes increasingly important if they are trying to replace the government in office. It is perhaps most important in the opposition parties. The policy-formulating function is also sometimes called aggregation.
  • Parties have to claim a representative function. All the main parties argue that they represent the national interest.
  • Parties spend a great deal of their time selecting candidates for office as well as selecting political leaders.
  • They help run elections and also educate the people about politics.
  • They play a vital role in the workings of Parliament, parties consult each other.
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Party Policies and Ideas

Left and Right in Politics

  • The Labour Party is now positioned in the centre, although some of the more socialist members of the party are often described as simply left.
  • The Conservatives under David Cameron have also been moved towards the centre ground but from the centre right. Cornerstone (a Conservative Group) is still very much a right faction supported by 30 or so MPs and peers.
  • The Liberal Democrats are harder to characterise but an accurate placement would be centre left.
  • The SNP and Plaid Cymru are both centre left. UKIP is firmly on the right of British politics, while the BNP is even further right. the Green Party and Northern Irish parties do not fit clearly into the left right definitions.
  • Economic and related issues. Centre: largely free market economy with some state regulation, pro free trade, mild redistribution of income and poverty relief, pro EU.
  • Social Issues. Centre: strong welfare system but targeted at most needy, pro multi culturalism, mixed liberal and authoritarian attitudes to crime, tolerant attitude on moral issues, state should facilitate individualism.
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Party Policies and Ideas


  • Traditional Conservatism who Benjamin Disraeli figure headed follows the following principles: a pessimistic view of human nature, order-mankind's most basic need is for order and security (Hobbes and Burke), respect for traditional institutions and values, the organic society and the need to preserve one nation.
  • A pragmatic approach to political action, stress on individualism, need to defend the interests of private property, opposition to ideologies and dogmatic political principles and empiricism-a stress on the importance of following the lessons of past experience.
  • New Right Conservatism or Thatcherism had the following principles: deregulation-the privatisation of industry and the introduction of more competition, disengagement- reluctance to interfere in the economy or to support failing industry (Laissez-Faire policy), opposition to trade union power-reforming the trade unions to give them less power, low levels of personal and business taxation as an incentive to wealth creation, opposition to dependency culture created by high levels of welfare benefits.
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Party Policies and Ideas

  • Conservative leader David Cameron has introduced a number of reforms since he became Tory Leader, which have certainly strayed away from traditional Conservatism towards the centre ground.
  • Social Justice- it is society's responsibility to improve the conditions of those who are deprived and to open up opportunities for them.
  • Taxation- tax levels must be set at a level which can sustain good-quality public services.
  • Environment- environmental protection has the highest priority and is the responsibility of all.
  • Law and Order- attempts should be made to understand better the causes of crime and to deal with them. This needs to be balanced against a tough approach to serious crime.
  • Role of the State- the state has a key role to plain in increasing opportunities and preventing poverty.
  • Education- education should not single out the more fortunate. Good educational opportunity should be available for all.
  • Rights- basic rights and liberties should not be sacrificed for sake of security.
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Party Policies and Ideas

Labour (red is Old Labour, Black is New Labour)

  • Attitude to Capitalism- Large scale industry brought under state control and capitalism controlled. Capitalism should be allowed to flourish but state should enforce competition and fair trade.
  • Industrial Relations- Trade unions should be powerful to protect the interests of the workers. There should be a limited role for trade unions, individual workers rights should be protected by law.
  • Welfare state and its services- Welfare benefits are vital in terms of redistributing income from rich to poor, welfare state is to be protected, all welfare services should fall under state control. Welfare benefits should be used as an incentive to work, their role is not to redistribute income. High quality public services should be preserved, private sector can be involved.
  • Economic Management- State should interfere extensively in economy, public borrowing acceptable when needing to stimulate economy. State interference should be minimised but public sector borrowing is acceptable if used for investment in public services.
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Party Policies and Ideas

  • Law and Order- Concentration on the causes of crime, especially economic causes. "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" (Blair 1994)
  • European Union- Anti-European on the whole, Britain to relinquish membership, Britain to be free to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Britain to remain at the centre of the EU, but retaining its independence.
  • Foreign Policy- Britain is to distance itself from international affairs. Britain to take leading role in international affairs, ethical foreign policy designed to help poor countries and to defend human rights.
  • The constitution- Radical proposals to democratise institutions and promote equal rights. Less radical reform, concentrating on decentralisation of government. Mild H of L reform, Human Rights Act.
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Party Policies and Ideas

Liberal Values

  • Two main thinkers Locke and Mill. Locke believed that we are born with rights, job of the government is to protect our rights not to take them away.
  • Mill developed three key themes: limited government, tolerance and freedoms.
  • Core Liberal Values: Freedom and Rights- we have basic rights which no one has the power to take away from us, the biggest threat to these is the state.
  • Tolerance- as we all have these freedoms it will be wrong for the majority to take away the freedoms of the minority.
  • Equality of Opportunity- no inheritance of privilege, no discrimination, everyone should have the same chances in life.
  • Social Justice- they accept inequality but don't want an excess of it.
  • Welfare- support state welfare, individuals responsibility to protect those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
  • Constitution and Democracy- extremely important. Limits the government by making laws and to protect and define the individuals. Want a codified constitution. Government should be listening to population and prepared to answer their wishes.
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Party Policies and Ideas

Liberal Democrats

  • Formed in 1988, a merger between the liberals and social democrats.
  • Fair Tax- you must pay what you can afford to pay, decreasing basic rate of tax but increasing VAT.
  • Economic Management- Laissez Faire economics, they want middle ground on the issue. If there is no intervention from government then things are unfair.
  • Welfare State- job of the government to ensure worst in society are protected through investment in education and health.
  • Law and Order- mass of crime is committed by people who look after the state rather than harming it, Clegg wants to protect individuals rights.
  • Constitutional Reform- wants more reform of the constitution. Directly elected H of L, devolution, entrenched Bill of Rights, electoral reform.
  • Europe- openly supports the EU. Want further integration with the EU, "Europe of the Regions".
  • Foreign Policy- based around negotiation and co operation, working through the EU rather than intervention. Against sending troops to Iraq.
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Party Polices and Ideas

  • Environment- very important, job of everyone to protect the environment, environmental considerations into policy making.

Consensus and Adversary Politics

  • Consensus politics is where the parties try to co operate with each other. Reps of each party are consulted before decisions are reached in a formal process. Britain enjoyed consensus politics in 1950s and 1960s before Thatcher came to power.
  • Adversarial politics is that all government polices are subject to critical examination by opposition parties. Claimed that Britain is the most adversarial system in the world.
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Katie Cheeswright


Oh my goodness, thank you so so much, this is really helpful :) you must be so clever, please be my tutor?;)

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