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Polital Parties In Britain's Government Essay

2060 words - 9 pages

Politics is today commonly associated with ‘party politics’ where each party represents a certain group of people in Parliament and considers issues through a specific lens. Britain has three main political parties; first, the Conservative Party on the right, which advocates the encouragement of private property, the preservation of a strong military, and the conservation of traditional cultural values. Second, the Labour Party on the left which is closely affiliated to trade unions, promotes nationalization, a welfare state and a Keynesian approach to economics; and the third, Liberal Democrats at the centre who put an emphasis on individual liberty, equality, a mixed economy, a developed welfare state and a reformed democratised system of government. Their main roles are both on the long term and on the short term. The long-term goals of a political party include public engagement where parties ignite the public’s interest and incite them to participate in debates in a sustained manner. A political party’s short-term role would be the mobilisation of the population, which looks at how people vote in one instance, in a referendum or an election for example. However, if one looks more closely at how effective political parties are in terms of their roles in society, we can notice a gap between what they aim to achieve and the observable outcome. This suggests that there have been changes in the way political parties operate, which could lead to the decline of the parties. This essay will argue that first, party organisation can cause a decline in memberships and lead to a decline of a party. Second, a change in society can affect the parties; class and partisan dealignment has pushed parties to transform themselves when it comes to which social group they tend to appeal to. Finally, due to the gradual disempowerment of the British government and parties, the population has lost faith in them when it comes to making changes for the country and taking action. This has resulted in a decline in voting participation and turnout at elections.

Party organisation plays an important role in securing memberships. The change or indeed the lack of change as we shall see, can hinder the performance of political parties and lead them into decline.
From the legalization of trade unions in 1871, the Labour party counted on them to secure votes for the party. Trade unions, associations which gathered workers from British industries and secured safety for these workers by reforming their socio-economic conditions through improvement in wages and working conditions, attracted a considerable number of these working class men. The unions became more and more popular, to the point where, in 1979, 13 million workers were members of a trade union, up from 9 to 10 million between 1951 and 1960 (Mc Ilroy et al., 1999). Each of these unions was affiliated to the Labour party; each person who wished to become an active member of a trade union had to pay a membership sub...

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