Are Poliltical Parties In Decline Essay

1500 words - 6 pages

Traditional Political parties are in terminal decline. Discuss.

The debate is often made that politics is rapidly becoming unpopular, unattractive and is ultimately shown to be out of favour with the masses, and this can be said to be reflected upon, and arguably due to, the traditional political parties in Great Britain. In order to receive a clearer picture of this shift in the political landscape the previously less mainstream parties must be entered into the discourse, and the changing behaviour of the voters in response to such movements must also be addressed. The case will be argued that the decline in traditional parties such as Labour and the Conservatives has some link to the rise ...view middle of the document...

4%, an albeit higher percentage than 2001, yet still drastically lower than in previous years. In 2010 there was again an increase to 65.1%. But with the Electorate standing at 45,597,461 this remains a shameful low, meaning that around 15,500,000 of the electorate did not vote.

The decline in British general election turnout is something that has worried those in the world of politics for many years now, with no clear indication of one precise reason for it. There are numerous arguments that will link the reason for political apathy to the main parties handling of important issues, whilst others may choose to link it with institutions such as the mass media. The debate concerning the decline, in reference to traditional parties in how they differentiate between one another, is one of importance, and perhaps the best possible explanation. Catherine Bromley, John Curtice and Ben Seyd argue this point in their paper 'Is Britain Facing a Crisis of Democracy?'; they say “when it comes to the decline in turnout in 2001, it appears as though the lack of clear competition between Labour and the Conservatives played a major role in discouraging people from participating” (2004. Pg22). The peoples general consensus on the issue highlighted here is agreement; there is no choice of party for them. Policies tend not to vary between parties; one may take a slightly harsher approach than another, but the overall outcome of the policy may be very much the same. Such disenfranchisement with traditional parties highlights the call for the discussion on whether or not they truly speak on behalf of the electorate.

Membership is another solid indication of the rapid decrease in both trust and support for the traditional parties. During the 1950's Conservative Membership stood at a record 2.8m, with Labour standing at an estimated 1m members. These figures have fallen almost as rapidly as the British voting turnout with the Conservatives at between 130,000 and 150,000 and Labour at 190,000. (Feargal McGuinness. 2012). This not only reflects that parties are out of favour with the people, but it is also a stark reminder that if the numbers continue to fall, it could have drastic consequences for the parties. It is therefore possible to say that the parties needs to quickly address this issue. Yet, as the figures have been dropping for sometime without any moves being made to remedy it, it may be assertable that they will not. There is of course a counter argument to this, made by Professor Paul Webb; he promulgates the idea that “overall, we should not be surprised by such changes as have occurred; change is endemic to the human condition and party life is as caught up in all this as anything else” (July, 1995). This is arguable a somewhat dangerous mindset, as it does not firmly acknowledge the voter's concerns, nor does it respond to the concept of the traditional parties' failings. Hence this attitude also gives rise to even higher levels of discontent with...

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