Introduction to British Political Parties

Following on from my introduction to the Norwegian political parties, a presentation of the main British political parties seems in order.

Labour:

Labour were founded on ideals of equal distributions and opportunities for all. The problem is that no one seems quite sure how to interpret those ideals anymore. Following Labour’s disastrous election result in May they have rather self-indulgently torn themselves apart. Some think Labour lost because it was too left-wing, some because it was too right-wing, and some question the relevance of the left-right dichotomy in the first place.

New Labour, Old Labour, New Old Labour, New New Labour. All eager to push their agenda and policies forward in this era of openness. It makes it hard to be sure what the Labour policies are in this blaze of ideas.

Greens:

Similar to Labour it’s hard to pin down the Greens’ policies. But unlike Labour that’s not because there are too many being spouted around. Erm… I suppose they want to be green… Yes, that sounds about right. Though, saying that, the one council they control has one of the worst recycling rates in the UK, so who knows, really?

Liberal Democrats:

The commentariat love to use the phrase that the Lib Dems were “reduced to a rump” at the last election. I’m not quite sure what that term means; I presume it refers to the fact that the Lib Dems can now get their parliamentary work done in a largish taxi on their way to parliament. Alternatively, they could raise their green profile and start commuting in on four tandems.

More seriously, the Lib Dems might have a golden opportunity to build support for themselves in the centre ground, while the Tories cut public services to the bone and Labour go for an existentialist scream in the wilderness.

Scottish National Party:

The self-styled progressives in the SNP performed an impressive rout in Scotland in May, winning 56 out of 59 seats. Even more impressive seeing as it’s hard to think of any actually progressive policies the SNP have implemented while controlling the Scottish Parliament. Though they have given a few sticky-plaster policies to the middle-classes, their record for helping the poorest in society and redistributing wealth is poor.

Conservatives:

Things should be looking pretty for the Conservatives ahead of this week’s conference in Manchester. They have done something no party in the history of modern British politics has achieved; improved their share of the vote to go from a coalition government to a majority government.

However, PM Cameron faces many challenges. Chief among them being to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU, and then persuading the British people that he’s obtained fabulous concessions. In addition, his comment that he would not fight another election means that the party conference resembles an audition for next Conservative leader.

UKIP:

UKIP seems to be trying desperately to implode. A year or so ago, things were looking pretty for UKIP, with two well-publicised defections from the Conservatives and high hopes for the May 2015 election. However, despite picking up nearly 13% of the vote, they are left with only one MP. This one MP can only scratch his head at how the rest of the party promptly descended into chaos. He is an alarmingly articulated and well-spoken person, making interesting points on PR and the need for a fair EU referendum. Whether the move from backbench obscurity to high-profile irrelevance was worth it, only he can decide.

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