Government and Politics- Political Parties and Idea's revision pack

Third quarter of the Edexcel syllabus

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  • Created on: 08-01-10 10:44

Give the five functions of political parties..

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1. Representation- the primary function of political parties- they link government to the people and respond to and articulate public opinion. Criticism- Parties may only need the support of 35-40% of the electorate, turnout has fallen and decline in voter loyalty.

2. Policy formulation- Political parties formulate a coherent set of policy options that give the electorate a clear choice of realistic and achievable goals. Criticism- Many parties have distanced themselves from their traditional ideologies. The strict organisation of government may lead to a stifling of important views.

3. Recruitment of leaders- Parties both recruit and train the political leaders of future. For example Gordon Brown joined the Labour party at university where he worked his way up through the ranks eventually becoming an MP in 1983. He then served as Shadow Chancellor and came to power in 1997, eventually becoming PM in 2005. Criticism- electioneering and other party activities may be poor training for running a large department.

4. Organisation of government- Political parties helped to form government giving them a degree of stability. Criticism- Many were critical of how easy legislation passed in 2005.

5. Participation and mobilisation- Criticism- people have become too led by public opinion.

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Give three features of political parties

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1. To win political office- Political parties aim to exercise Government power by winning political office (small parties may nevertheless use elections to gain a political platform rather then win power). For example the Labout Government won a 'landslide' victory against John Major's government in 1997.

2. To adopt a broad issue focus- Parties typically adopt a broad issue focus, addressing each of the major areas of government policy and striving to better it in the eyes of the British electorate (smaller parties may however have a smaller narrower issue focus). For example the BNP mainly focus on the Governments immigration policy.

3. Have an ideological identity- Members of political parties are usually limited through shared political policies and a general ideological identity, although these are often loose and broadly defined. For example Labour are traditionally associated with socialistic ideals.

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Give four traditional ideas of the Labour party..

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1. Society- we live in an organic society, everyone should work together to maintain the nation. For example Benjamin Disraeli.

2. Trade Unions- Work with trade unions, trade unions should be part of the decision making process and should be included in economic negotiations to minimise conflict. For example the Governments in post war era followed policy of corporatism, which involved governments negotiating price and incomes policy with trade unions.

3. Welfare- Because welfare is a social duty, it is the duty of the rich to make sure that poorer people are looked after. Therefore those who earn more should pay higher tax. For example in the 1950's Prime Minister Harold Macmillan helped to build council houses.

4. Economy- Mixed economy with public and private industries, the state should manage the economy and run industries are necessary to maintain social stability. For example the maintanence of nationalised industries during the post war consensus.

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Give the four main differences in New Right Thatch

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1. Society- Individualism, Thatcher proclaimed that there is 'no such thing as society'. She believed that people should rely on themselves and not look for handouts from the state. For example Thatcher lowered welfare benefits as she believed that there had been a dependancy culture created under Labour.

2. Trade Unions- Believed the trade unions were too powerful and restrictions should be introduced. Businesses who lost money to trade unions could sue them. In addition restrictions were introduced to stop strikers travelling around, striking was seen as a dangerous business.

3. Welfare- Thatcher saw Labour's welfare benefits creating a 'culture of dependancy' and reduced welfare benefits as an incentive for the employed to find work. For example the New Right reduced spending on the welfare state.

4. Economy- Thatcher believed in free market economics and the state would no longer interfere with failing industries, she felt that exposing the economy to competition was better. For example if industries were failing then they were not efficient enough to compete, therefore the government would not help them, exposing the economy would make it more efficient.

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Give five main points about the Conservatives unde

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1. Society- it is society's responsibility to improve the conditions of those who are deprived and open up opportunity. However recently since the 2008 financial crisis Cameron has agreed to cuts in the public service. After 2011 there would be a 10% reduction in the departmental expenditure limit for all departments.

2. Environmentalism- Cameron wanted the Conservatives to take the lead by proposing tougher environmental measures and advocating a carbon tax on businesses that pollute unnecessarily.

3. Social inclusion- Cameron accepted that significant minorities from within Britain were excluded from mainstream society and emphasised his wish to appeal to more ethnic and women minorities. For example the movenemnt is described as 'caring Conservatism'.

4. The Economy- Before 2008 the Conservatives wanted to share the proceeds of economic growth, however recently Cameron stated that reducing the nations debt was his highest priority. This shows he has adopted a pragmatic stance- solving the credit crunch.

5. Law and Order- A tough authoritarian approach is still advocated by Cameron when dealing with the most serious offenders, yet a higher focus on the causes of crime aswell.

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Give the four main policies of Old Labour..

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1. Welfare state- The setting up of state institutions regardless of their ability to pay helps all in society, this includes the NHS and unemployment benefits.

2. Nationalisation- The taking over of major businesses into state ownership, this included coal, steel, electricity and railways.

3. Keynesian economics- If required governments should borrow money to maintain full employment and maintain key industries.

4. Working class- Represented by the working class- focused on articulating and meeting the demands of the working people.

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Give the four attitudes of New Labour..

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1. Welfare state- Welfare has been targeted on providing social inclusion, this implies that whilst there is the need for social inclusion and right to support, individuals have an equally important role in their obligation to find work.

2. Nationalisation- Completely abandoned nationalisation and favoured privatising industries such as the post office. Almost gone further then Thatcherism.

3. Keynesian economics- Now there is less control over the economy and less focus on creating jobs through high public spending; for example the gap between rich and poor has increased further then it has under the Conservative government.

4. Working class- More focussed on social equality covered by increases in stealth tax. Evidence suggests that 1.6 million children have been lifted out of poverty as a result of working class and tax benefits.

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Summarise the change between Old and New Labour (6

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Old Labour supported state funded and controlled public services with high public spending. New Labour favours private finance of public services and free market policies in education.

Old Labour was commited to nationalisation, on the other hand New Labour favoured privatisation in favour of creating privatised industries such as the post office.

Old Labour favoured a managed economy through keynesian economics with tighter control to help stimulate growth, on the other hand New Labour favoured the free market approach with higher spending to create jobs.

Old Labour favoured powerful and influential trade unionism, New Labour are pro-business.

Old clause 4 promoted nationalisation and social equality, new clause 4 promoted a dynamic new economy through forces of partnership.

Old Labour focused heavily on the causes of crime and put emphasis on the rehabilitation of criminals- New Labour moved towards a 'tough on crime' policy through giving police additional powers since 9/11.

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Give four points on why political parties promote

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1. Key organisational role- Political parties provide a framework for elections, they provide full time agents and an army of volunteers who will campaign on behalf of candidates. For example all political parties MP's are elected as representatives from Britains 646 constituencies bar one.

2. A stable, accountable government is formed- Political parties ensure that stable government is formed and held accountable to voters. For example David Cameron highlight the problems in the governments response to the credit crunch and put forward an alternate economic policy.

3. People can participate beyong voting- People can also join political parties and rise up the ranks of the party hierachy, this makes leaders accountable. For example Brown has to pay heed to his backbenchers concerns over his wish to abolish the 10p rate of income tax.

4. Political parties can educate people and inform citizens about issues- Political parties can make complex issues easy for the people to understand and provide a response, thus mobilising opinion from the public. For example the Green Party has been influential in raising environmental issues up the government agenda.

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Give four reasons how political parties damage dem

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1. Political parties fail to offer voters any real choice- This is mainly due to a lack of representation from smaller parties, and critics have argued that Labour and the Conservatives are morphing into one party. The similarity of parties has led to apathy, disengagement and falling participation.

2. Not viewed as representative of the British electorate- Membership of political parties in the UK is low and many people now see pressure groups as a more effective vehicle for getting ideas acted upon rather then political parties.

3. Increased centralisation of decision making and power within political parties- The parties whips often force MP's to do what the party leader wants, clearly seen in 2002 when Labour voted for higher education fees. Although MP's should primarily think about their constituents needs this is very often not the case.

4. Political parties are seen to be corrupt- By promoting the interests of the party above the democratic system. For example the Cash for Questions Affair and the Blair government removing formular one from the tobacco advertising ban.

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To what extent do the policies of the Labour and C

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1. Free market thatcherism

2. Low taxation

3. Privatisation

4. Maintenance of public spending

5. Private Public Partnerships

6. Hostility to trade unions

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What policies divide the Labour and Conservative p

1. European Union and single currency

2. Anti-terrorism precharge detention

3. ID cards

4. Fox hunting

5. Constitutional Reform

6. Credit Crunch

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Distinguish between adversary and consensus politi

1. Consensus politics is when there is agreement over major policies between the three main political parties which could cover economic policy, social policy, constitutional issues or all three. The main parties will still oppose each other but will claim greater competence then their rival. This existed during the post war consensus when both agreed on keynesian economics.

2. Adversarial politics is characterised by widespread disagreement between the main political parties about what types of policy to introduce. The governing body is then faced with an opposition with a contrasting set of policies which are often based on different ideological beliefs. For example the New Right Agenda of Margaret Thatcher and Left Wing policies of Michael Foot in 2003.

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These really helped me, some of the stuff is slightly out of date but most of it was increadably helpful




OMG wow thank you sooo much i love ya ta bitsss!!!!!... 

Eric Ifere


Great very helpful.



thanks. its actually helpful. 

Georgia Marston



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