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The Left Wing and Right Wing

Political ideas date back to the French Revolution in 1789.

Left wingers generally support:

  • Social welfare and economic intervention such as protectionism.
  • Socialism 
  • Support the Labour Party who are associated with Left wing policies.
  • They are generally the working class.

Whereas, right wingers generally support:

  • free market unregulated capitalism.
  • wish to roll back the state.
  • conservatism
  • the Conservative Party.
  • They are generally supported by the middle class.
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Socialism is an ideology that:

  • covers beliefs ranging from revolutionary communism to reformist social democracy.
  • The central idea is that people are social creatures who are bound together by a common humanity.
  • Socialist values include:
    • Fraternity: means brotherhood and is the bonds of sympathy and comradeship between people.
    • Cooperation: where people work together rather than competing,
    • Equality: To abolish to reduce social class divisions.

The two types of Socialism are:

  • Fundamentalist socialists (Marxists and Communists): these believe that capitalism should be abolished and replaced with a system based on collective ownership of wealth.
  • Revolutionist socialists (social democrats): these believe that capitalism should be reformed through social and economic intervention.
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Social Democracy

Social democracy is an ideology that supports:

  • a broad balance between capitalism and state intervention.
  • It is seen as a betrayal of socialism because it accepts capitalism. 
  • But others view it as the only practicable form of socialism.
  • The key goal is a 'humanised' capitalism based on economic efficiency with equality and social justice.

The key policies of social democracy are:

  • Mixed Economy: This is made up of both private and public industry (nationalisation). Atlee's govt nationalised industries such as coal, steel, ship building, railways, gas and electricity.
  • Economic Management: This is a idea promoted by John Maynard Keynes, where the economy is managed by the govt. Keynesianism is where public spending can help stimulate growth and achieve full employment,
  • Comprehensive Social Welfare: The welfare state, under Atlee, was expanded based on the Beveridge Report(1942). This bought about NHS. Atlee created the saying 'Cradle to the grave' protection.
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The Labour Party started to move from its socialist roots after a disastrous polling in the 1983 and 1987 general elections. 

Blairism came about when Tony Blair came to power in 1994 who rewrote Clause Four:

  • It was changed from common ownership of production, distribution and exchange and a system of public administration and control of each industry and service. This was pure democracy.
  • To working towards a dynamic economy serving the public's interest where the market and the rigour of competition are joined with partnership and cooperation to produce a wealthy nation, with a thriving private sector and high quality public services. Also known as New Labour.
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New Labour

Blair called the party New Labour, also known as the 'third way' because:

  • it was between Thatcherism and Keynesianism.
  • it was a mixture between left and right wing.
  • He wanted to blend a market-oriented economic strategy with continued support for public services.

The chief themes include:

  • Market Economics: where the economy is regulated by the market not the state. The key elements were privatisation, reduced union power, deregulation and lower taxes.
  • Constitutional Reform: to reform the constitution between  1997-2001.
  • Third Way Welfare: 'Targeted' benefits used as opposed to 'universal' benefits. There was an emphasis on 'welfare to work' where they would boost employability skills and incentives to work. Therefore public services should be focused around the market.
  • Strengthening Responsibility: rights should be balanced against responsibilites. 
  • Communitarianism: the belief that people are happier and more secure if they live in a community that has clear values and culture. So new public order laws were introduced as the prison population rose. Anti-terror laws were also introduced. 
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