Political party system

Study of legal nature of the two-party system of Great Britain. Description of political activity of conservative party of England. Setting of social and economic policies of political parties. Value of party constitution and activity of labour party.

Рубрика Политология
Вид курсовая работа
Язык английский
Дата добавления 01.06.2014
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Political party system

Table of contents


1. The two-party system in the UK

1.1 The nature of the two party system

1.2 The third political party in Britain

1.3 Recent general election results

2. The Conservative party

2.1 Policies of the Conservative party

2.1.1 Economic, social and justice policies

2.1.2 Foreign and European union policies

2.1.3 Welfare, health and drug policies

2.1.4 Education and job policies

2.2 The structure of the party

3. The Labour party

3.1 Party constitution and structure

3.2 Policies of the Labour party



Two-party system constitution political party


It is a common knowledge that a political party is an organisation of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power. While there is some international commonality in the way Political Parties are recognised, and in how they operate, there are often many differences, and some are significant. Many political parties have an ideological core, but some do not, and many represent very different ideologies than they did when first founded.

All political parties in a country form a political party system of this country. In general, a party system is a concept in comparative political science concerning the system of government by political parties in a democratic country. The idea is that political parties have basic similarities: they control the government, have a stable base of mass popular support, and create internal mechanisms for controlling funding, information and nominations.

According to the number of major political parties political party system can be single-party, two-party, and multi-party. A single-party system is a type of state in which a single political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties are either outlawed or allowed to take only a limited and controlled participation in elections. Multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coalition. It tend to be more common in parliamentary systems than presidential systems, and far more common in countries that use proportional representation compared to countries that use first past the post elections.

A two-party system is a system where two major political parties dominate politics within a government. One of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature and is usually referred to as the majority party while the other is the minority party. But in contrast with this general meaning, in the United Kingdom and in other parliamentary systems and elsewhere, the term two-party system is sometimes used to indicate an arrangement in which two major parties dominate elections but in which there are viable third parties which do win seats in the legislature, and in which the two major parties exert proportionately greater influence than their percentage of votes would suggest.

Some historians have suggested that two-party systems promote centrism and encourage political parties to find common positions which appeal to wide swaths of the electorate. It can lead to political stability which leads, in turn, to economic growth.

However, two-party systems have been criticized for downplaying alternative views, being less competitive, encouraging voter apathy since there is a perception of fewer choices, and putting a damper on debate within a nation. In a proportional representation system, lesser parties can moderate policy since they are not usually eliminated from government.

The party system in Britain has existed in one form or another since the seventeenth century, and began to assume its modern shape towards the end of the nineteenth century. Whenever there is a general election (or a by-election) the parties may put up candidates for election. The electorate then indicates, by its choice of candidate at the poll on Election Day, which of the opposing policies it would like to see put into effect. The candidate who polls the most votes is elected: an absolute majority is not required. Such an electoral system is called the majority system, which is unrepresentative and undemocratic because it gives predominance to the most powerful parties -- the Conservative and Labour parties. These parties as a rule control Parliament. In this context there is a two-party system in Britain. The Conservative and Labour parties share power, they control the state mechanism, only these two parties have access to the management of the state, though in reality there exist other parties. There is also a significant third party, the Liberal Democrats.

However, in recent years new trends are becoming more noticeable. These changes which occurred under the pressure of the working people, disappointed with the existing state mechanism, make it more complicated for the two main parties to dominate the political scene. A reflection of the tendency is the fact that more votes are given to the other political parties.

The purpose of the work is to study the nature, role and meaning of the political party system in the United Kingdom. To achieve this purpose it is necessary to solve the following tasks:

1. To research the essence of the two-party system in the UK;

2. To define what is the third party and its role in British political party system;

3. To analyse recent general election results in the UK;

4. To consider the policies, ideology and structure of the Conservative political party;

5. To consider the policies, ideology and structure of the Labour political party.

1. The two-party system in the UK

The political party system is an essential element in the working of the British constitution. The present system depends upon the existence of organized political parties, each of which presents its policies to the electorate for approval. The parties are not registered or formally recognized in law, but in practice most candidates in elections, and almost all winning candidates, belong to one of the main parties [1, p. 59].

1.1 The nature of the two party system

Great Britain has had two alignments: Conservative and Liberal prior to 1914 and Conservative and Labour since 1935. The period from 1920 to 1935 constituted an intermediate phase between the two. Britain's Conservative Party is actually a Conservative-Liberal Party, resulting from a fusion of the essential elements of the two great 19th-century parties. Despite the name Conservative, its ideology corresponds to political and economic liberalism. A similar observation could be made about the other major European conservative parties, such as the German Christian Democratic Party.

The British two-party system depends on the existence of rigid parties; that is, parties in which there is effective discipline regarding parliamentary voting patterns. In every important vote, all party members are required to vote as a bloc and to follow to the letter the directives that they agreed upon collectively or that were decided for them by the party leaders. A relative flexibility may at times be tolerated, but only to the extent that such a policy does not compromise the action of the government. It may be admissible for some party members to abstain from voting if their abstention does not alter the results of the vote. Thus, the leader of the majority party (who is at the same time the prime minister) is likely to remain in power throughout the session of Parliament, and the legislation he or she proposes will likely be adopted. There is no longer any real separation of power between the executive and legislative branches, for the government and its parliamentary majority form a homogeneous and solid bloc before which the opposition has no power other than to make its criticisms known. During the four or five years for which a Parliament meets, the majority in power is completely in control, and only internal difficulties within the majority party can limit its power [2, p. 345].

Since each party is made up of a disciplined group with a recognized leader who becomes prime minister if his or her party wins the legislative elections, these elections perform the function of selecting both the legislature and the government. In voting to make one of the party leaders the head of the government, the British assure the leader of a disciplined parliamentary majority. The result is a political system that is at once stable, democratic, and strong; and many would argue that it is more stable, more democratic, and stronger than systems anywhere else [8, p. 105].

This situation presupposes that both parties are in agreement with regard to the fundamental rules of a democracy. If a fascist party and a communist party were opposed to one another in Great Britain, the two-party system would not last very long. The winner would zealously suppress the opponent and rule alone.

The system, of course, does have its weak points, especially insofar as it tends to frustrate the innovative elements within both parties. But it is possible that this situation is preferable to what would happen if the more extreme elements within the parties were permitted to engage in unrealistic policies. The risk of immobility is in fact a problem for any party in a modern industrial society, and not just for those in a two-party situation. The problem is related to the difficulties involved in creating new organizations capable of being taken seriously by an important segment of the population and in revitalizing long-standing organizations encumbered by established practices and entrenched interests [16].

The two-party system, in the sense of the looser definition, where two parties dominate politics but in which third parties can elect members and gain some representation in the legislature, can be traced to the development of political parties in the United Kingdom. There was a division in English politics at the time of the Civil War and Glorious Revolution in the late 17th century. The Whigs supported Protestant constitutional monarchy against absolute rule and the Tories, originating in the Royalist (or "Cavalier") faction of the English Civil War, were conservative royalist supporters of a strong monarchy as a counterbalance to the republican tendencies of Parliament. In the following century, the Whig party's support base widened to include emerging industrial interests and wealthy merchants [2, p. 345 - 347].

The basic matters of principle that defined the struggle between the two factions, were concerning the nature of constitutional monarchy, the desirability of a Catholic king, the extension of religious toleration to nonconformist Protestants, and other issues that had been put on the liberal agenda through the political concepts propounded by John Locke, Algernon Sidney and others.

Vigorous struggle between the two factions characterised the period from the Glorious Revolution to the 1715 Hanoverian succession, over the legacy of the overthrow of the Stuart dynasty and the nature of the new constitutional state. This proto two-party system fell into relative abeyance after the accession to the throne of George I and the consequent period of Whig supremacy under Robert Walpole, during which the Tories were systematically purged from high positions in government. However, although the Tories were dismissed from office for half a century, they still retained a measure of party cohesion under William Wyndham and acted as a united, though unavailing, opposition to Whig corruption and scandals. At times they cooperated with the "Opposition Whigs", Whigs who were in opposition to the Whig government; however, the ideological gap between the Tories and the Opposition Whigs prevented them from coalescing as a single party [8, p. 77].

The old Whig leadership dissolved in the 1760s into a decade of factional chaos with distinct "Grenvillite", "Bedfordite", "Rockinghamite", and "Chathamite" factions successively in power, and all referring to themselves as "Whigs". Out of this chaos, the first distinctive parties emerged. The first such party was the Rockingham Whigs under the leadership of Charles Watson-Wentworth and the intellectual guidance of the political philosopher Edmund Burke. Burke laid out a philosophy that described the basic framework of the political party as "a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavors the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed". As opposed to the instability of the earlier factions, which were often tied to a particular leader and could disintegrate if removed from power, the two party system was centred around a set of core principles held by both sides and that allowed the party out of power to remain as the Loyal Opposition to the governing party [2, p. 346].

A genuine two-party system began to emerge, with the accession to power of William Pitt the Younger in 1783 leading the new Tories, against a reconstituted "Whig" party led by the radical politician Charles James Fox.

The modern party system in Britain is a result of the Industrial Revolution which took place in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the emergence of new classes on the political scene -- the capitalists and working class, the organized political struggle of the working class. The Industrial Revolution brought into being the industrial proletariat and with it the fight for civil and political rights, trade-union organization and the right to vote. Under such conditions the ruling-classes found it necessary to create political organizations which were intended to defend their class interests. This in its turn led to the emergence of the Conservative and Liberal parties in the nineteenth century as parties of the propertied classes.

By the end of the nineteenth century, both major political parties had become organized on a nationwide basis with election agents, constituency organizations and a London headquarters. In Parliament, the two-party system which had been emerging from the end of the eighteenth century was given formal acknowledgement when the House of Commons was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the old one in 1834. A new chamber was provided with two sets of benches, one for an administration party, and one for an opposition party. Political struggle led to the formation of the Labour party in 1900 and to the foundation of the Communist party in 1920 [9, p. 118].

Since 1945 eight general elections have been won by the Conservative Party and six by the Labout Party; the great majority of members of the House of Commons have belonged to one of these two parties.

The party which wins most seats, although not necessarily the most votes, at a general election, or which has the support of a majority of members in the House of Commons, usually forms the Government. By tradition, the leader of the majority party is asked by the Sovereign to form a government. About 100 of its members in the House of Commons and the House of Lords receive ministerial appointments, including appointment to the Cabinet on the advice of the Prime Minister. The largest minority party becomes the official Opposition, with its own leader and 'shadow cabinet' [16].

Leaders of the Government and Opposition sit on the front benches on either side of the Commons chamber with their supporters - the backbenchers - sitting behind them. Similar arrangements for the parties also apply to the House of Lords; however, Lords who do not wish to be associated with any political party may sit on the 'cross benches'.

The effectiveness of the party system in Parliament rests largely on the relationship between the Government and the opposition parties. Depending on the relative strengths of the parties in the House of Commons, the Opposition may seek to overthrow the Government by defeating it in a vote on a 'matter of confidence'. In general, however, its aims are:

1. To contribute to the formulation of policy and legislation by constructive criticism;

2. To oppose the government proposals it considers objectionable; to seek amendments to government Bills;

3. To put forward its own policies in order to improve its chances of winning the next general election.

The Opposition performs this role both by debating issues and putting questions on the floor of both Houses and through the committee system [8, p. 78].

Government business arragnements are settled, under the direction of the Prime Minsiter and the Leaders of the two Houses, by the Government Chief Whip in consultation with theOpposition Chief Whip. The Chief Whips together constitute the 'usual channels' ofter referred to when the question of finding time for a particular item of business is discussed. The Leaders of the two Houses are responsible for enabling the Houses to debate matters about which they are concerned.

Outside Parliament, party control is exercised by the national and local organizations. Parties are organized at parliamentary constituency level and also contest local government elections. Inside Parliament, party control is exercised by the Chief Whips and their assistants, who are chosen within the party. Their duties include keeping members informed of forthcoming parliamentary business, maintaining the party's voting strength by ensuring members attend important debates, and passing on to the party leadership the opinions of the backbench members [2, p. 347]. The Whips indicate the importance their party attaches to a vote on a particular issue by underlining items of business once, twice or three times on the notice sent to MPs. In the Commons, failure to comply with a 'three-line whip', the most important, is usually seen as a rebellion against the party. Party discipline tends to be less strong in the Lords than in the Commons, since Lords have less hope of high office and no need of party support in elections. The formal title of the Government Chief Whip in the Commons is Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury. The Government Whips in the Lords also act as government spokesmen [16].

1.2 The third political party in Britain

In electoral politics, a third party is any party contending for votes that failed to outpoll either of its two strongest rivals (or, in the context of an impending election, is considered highly unlikely to do so). The distinction is particularly significant in two-party systems. In any case "third" is often used figuratively, as in "the third parties", where the intent, literally stated, is "the third and succeeding parties.

Third parties in a two-party system can be:

· built around a particular ideology or interest group

· split off from one of the major parties or

· focused on a charismatic individual.

When third parties are built around an ideology which is at odds with the majority mindset, many members belong to such a party not for the purpose of expecting electoral success but rather for personal or psychological reasons [2, p. 348].

A so-called third party in the United Kingdom is the Liberal Democrats. In the 2010 election, the Liberal Democrats received 23% of the votes but only 9% of the seats in the House of Commons. While electoral results do not necessarily translate into legislative seats, the Liberal Democrats can exert influence if there is a situation such as a hung parliament. In this instance, neither of the two main parties (at present, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party) have sufficient authority to run the government. Accordingly, the Liberal Democrats can in theory exert tremendous influence in such a situation since they can ally with one of the two main parties to form a coalition. This happened in the Coalition government of 2010. Yet in that more than 13% of the seats in the British House of Commons are held in 2011 by representatives of political parties other than the two leading political parties of that nation, contemporary Britain is considered by some to be a multi-party system, and not a two-party system.

The party was formed in 1988 by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. The two parties had formed the electoral SDP-Liberal Alliance for seven years prior. The term 'Liberal Party' was first used officially in 1868, though it had been in use colloquially for decades beforehand. The Liberal Party formed a government in 1868 and then alternated with the Conservative Party as the party of government throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The Liberal Democrats are heavily a party on Constitutional and Political Reforms, including changing the voting system for General Elections, abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with a 300 member elected Senate, introducing Fixed Five Year Parliaments, and introducing a National Register of Lobbyists. They also claim to champion of fairness and social mobility, notably in government where they have introduced legislation introducing a pupil premium - funding for schools directed at the poorest students to give them an equal chance in life - equal marriage for homosexual couples and increasing the income tax threshold.

The opening line to the preamble of the Liberal Democrats constitution is "The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."

There are two main strands of distinct ideology within the party, social liberals and the economic liberals, more commonly known as Orange Bookers. The social liberals are seen as being the more traditionally centre-left end of the party with Orange Bookers being more towards the centre. The principal difference between the two is that the Orange Bookers tend to support greater choice and competition and as such aiming to increase social mobility through increasing economic freedom and opportunity for those with more disadvantaged backgrounds. Whereas the social liberals are more commonly associated with directly aiming to increase equality of outcome through state means. Correspondingly, Orange Bookers tend to favour cutting taxes for the poorest in order to increase opportunity contrasting with social liberals who would rather see higher spending on the disadvantaged to reduce income inequality.

The Liberal Democrats are a federal party of the parties of England, Scotland and Wales. The English and Scottish parties are further split into regions. The parliamentary parties of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly form semi-autonomous units within the party. The leaders in the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament are the leaders of the federal party and the Scottish Party; the leaders in the other two chambers, and the officers of all parliamentary parties, are elected from their own number. Co-ordination of all party activities across all federated groups is undertaken through the Federal Executive. Chaired by the party leader, its 30+ members include representatives from each of the groups and democratically elected representatives.

Specified Associated Organisations (SAOs) review and input policies, representing groups including: ethnic minorities (EMLD), women (WLD), the LGBT community (LGBT+ Lib Dems), youth and students (Liberal Youth), engineers and scientists (ALDES), parliamentary candidates (PCA) and local councillors (ALDC). Others can become Associated Organisations (AOs) as pressure groups in the party, such as the Green Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrats Online, the Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG) and the Liberal Democrat Disability Association. The National Union of Liberal Clubs (NULC) represents Liberal Social Clubs which encourages recreational institutions where the promotion of the party can take place.

Like the Conservatives, the Lib Dems organise in Northern Ireland, though they do not contest elections in the province: they work with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, de facto agreeing to support the Alliance in elections. There is a separate local party operating in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats. Several individuals, including Alliance Party leader David Ford, hold membership of both parties.

The party is a member of Liberal International and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party, and their 11 MEPs sit in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group in the European Parliament.

1.3 Recent general election results

Recent general election in the United Kingdom was held on Thursday 6 May 2010 to elect members to the House of Commons. The election took place in 650 constituencies across the United Kingdom under the first-past-the-post system. All three main parties went into the general election having changed leaders since 2005. David Cameron became Conservative leader in December 2005, replacing Michael Howard. Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister in June 2007. Nick Clegg was elected as leader of the Liberal Democrats in December 2007, succeeding Menzies Campbell who had replaced Charles Kennedy in January 2006.

None of the parties achieved the 326 seats needed for an overall majority. The Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, won the largest number of votes and seats but still fell twenty seats short. This resulted in a hung parliament where no party was able to command a majority in the House of Commons. This was only the second general election since World War II to return a hung parliament, the first being the February 1974 election. Unlike in 1974, the potential for a hung parliament had this time been widely considered and predicted and both the country and politicians were better prepared for the constitutional process that would follow such a result. The coalition government that was subsequently formed was the first coalition in British history to eventuate directly from an election outcome.

Coalition talks began immediately between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and lasted for five days. There was an aborted attempt to put together a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition (although other smaller parties would have been required to make up the ten seats they lacked for a majority). To facilitate this Gordon Brown announced on the evening of Monday 10 May that he would resign as Labour Party leader. Realizing that a deal with the Tories was in reach, the next day on Tuesday 11 May, Brown announced his resignation as Prime Minister, marking the end of 13 years of Labour government. This was accepted by Queen Elizabeth II, who then invited David Cameron to form a government in her name and become Prime Minister. Just after midnight on 12 May, the Liberal Democrats emerged from a meeting of their Parliamentary party and Federal Executive to announce that the coalition deal had been "approved overwhelmingly", sealing a coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

None of the three main party leaders had previously led a general election campaign, a situation which had not occurred since the 1979 election. During the campaign, the three main party leaders engaged in a series of televised debates, the first such debates in a British general election campaign. The Liberal Democrats achieved a breakthrough in opinion polls after the first debate in which their leader Nick Clegg was widely seen as the strongest performer. On polling day their share of the vote increased by only 1% over the previous general election, and they suffered a net loss of five seats. This was still the Liberal Democrats' largest popular vote since the party's creation, and they found themselves in a pivotal role in the formation of the new government. The share of votes for parties other than Labour or the Conservatives was 35% and was the largest since the 1918 general election. In terms of votes it was the most "three-cornered" election since 1923, and in terms of seats since1929. The Green Party of England and Wales won its first ever seat in the Commons, and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland also gained its first elected member. The result in one constituency, Oldham East and Saddleworth, was subsequently declared void on petition because of illegal practices during the campaign.

Turnout nationally was 65%, a rise from the 61% turnout in the 2005 general election.

Table 1. 3

First party

Second party

Third party




Liberal Democrat

Last election

198 32.4%

355 , 35.2%

62 , 22.0%

Seats before




Seats won




Seat change




Popular vote










6. 2%

1. 0%

When it became clear that no party would achieve an overall majority the three main party leaders made public statements offering to discuss the options for forming the next government with the other parties.

On 11 May 2010, as coalition talks between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats seemed to be drawing to a successful conclusion, Gordon Brown announced that he was resigning as Prime Minister and also as Labour leader. He then left Downing Street, accompanied by his wife and children, driving to Buckingham Palace where he tendered his resignation to Her Majesty the Queen and advised her to call for David Cameron. Cameron became Prime Minister one hour after the Queen accepted Brown's resignation. In his first address outside 10 Downing Street, he announced his intention to form a coalition government, the first since the Second World War, with the Liberal Democrats. As one of his first moves, Cameron appointed Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister.

Just after midnight on 12 May 2010, the Liberal Democrats emerged from a meeting of their Parliamentary party and Federal Executive to announce that the coalition deal had been "approved overwhelmingly", meaning that David Cameron would lead a coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Later that day, the two parties jointly published the Conservative - Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement specifying the terms of the coalition deal.

2. The Conservative party

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party and colloquially referred to as the Tory Party or the Tories, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that states that it espouses the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism.

The Conservative Party was officially organized in 1867 on the basis of political groups of the English landed aristocracy. The origins of the party go down to the 17th century, when it was called the Tory party. The Tories (formed in 1679) staunchly supported the claims of monarchy. 'Tory' was initially a derogatory nickname, meaning an Irish bandit. In the course of its evolution in the 19th century the Conservative party became the main party of British top monopoly capital. It is also supported by the top military clique and bureaucracy, partially by bourgeois intellectuals, the well-paid employees and the labour aristocracy. Supported and financed by the clique of company directors, aristocrats, big business politicians the party is an advocate of capitalism and inperialism, openly defending capitalist exploitation at home and abroad. Its home policy is aimed at the limitation of trade union rights, prohibition of strikes, suppression of basic rights of the working class. The foreign policy of the Conservatives is likewise motivated by the interests of the British ruling class.

The Liberal party of Great Britain existed since 1832, though it was finally organized in 1877. The history of this party is closely associated with the Whig party, which emerged in 1679. Initially the Whigs voiced the interests of the financial and the trading bourgeoisie. The party was opposed to the policy of Charles II who tried to restore the absolute powers of monarchy after the bourgeois revolution (1640 -- 60). The Whig leaders headed by the Earl of Shaftesbury and his followers in the Green Ribbon club attempted to exclude Charles's Catholic brother, later James II, from succession to the throne. As a result, they became associated with the cause of the opponents of the regime and the defence of the liberties of the subject and parliament against the threat of monarchical absolutism. The term 'Whig', from 'whiggamore (cattle-drover), began as a term of abuse used by opponents. In the nineteenth century the Whigs served as a nucleus in the formation of the Liberal party. The middle and petty bourgeois intellectuals formed the social basis of the party.

Before the First World War it was second only to the Conservatives in political and social influence. Quite often did the Liberals hold office. However, due to the intensification of class struggle and a split among the Liberals the party's influence declined. Having suffered several defeats at the parliamentary elections in the twenties the party could not restore its former prestige. To a great degree the newly formed Labour party won the votes of the former Liberal supporters.

The results of the general elections of 1979 and 1983 indicated a marked growth of influence of the Liberals, though in 1987 they suffered a setback. They formed an alliance with the Social Democratic party which emerged in 1981 as a result of a split in the Labour party. In 1988 the Liberals and Social Democrats formed a united party under the name the Social-Liberal Democratic party or just the Democrats. This event highlighted the formation of a new political party in Great Britain which claimed to have a membership of about one hundred thousand supporters. The party was set to take a centrist stand in the political spectrum of Great Britain. Its political platform remains vague reflecting a diversity of views of the members of the two former parties. In the political system of Great Britain the Democrats hope to fill the gap which exists between the Conservatives and Labourites.

The Conservative party has no official permanent programme. On the eve of general elections the party issues a pre-election manifesto which states the main aspects of the home and foreign policies of the future Conservative government if the party wins the elections. However, it is necessary to emphasize the point that there is always a great gap between the pre-election promises and their actual implementation when the party comes to power.

Being a party of 'big business' the party always reduces state allocations for social security, gives priority to private enterprise by slashing funds for the nationalized sector of the economy, introduces taxation profitable for the big companies. The activity of the party is marked by further offensive of the monopolies on the social and economic rights of the working people, the anti-trade union measures, violations of basic human rights, especially in Northern Ireland.

The Conservative party has no official membership, no membership cards and party dues. Formally the highest organ in the party is the annual conference. However, actual power is concentrated in the hands of the leader of the party. The leader is not elected by the annual conference, but by the MPs sitting in Parliament on behalf of the Conservative party -- the so-called parliamentary party. The leader personally appoints the holders of the key positions in the central office. The decisions of the annual party conference and of the various organs of the party (the executive organ of the party in between the party conferences) are conveyed to the leader so that he may be kept constantly aware of the moods and opinions of the party members, but the leader is in no way bound by these resolutions. Pronouncements of party policy are the responsibilities of the leader. The leader may not even attend the annual conference except to deliver a speech at the end of the conference which is not open to discussion discussion. Thus the relations between the ordinary members and the party leadership can only be described as undemocratic. The party issues its own paper Newsletter, the official journals of the party are Time and Tide, Politics Today. However, one should remember that the majority of the British press supports the Conservative party. The papers and journals are owned by the big monopolies.

2.1 Policies of the Conservative party

2.1.1 Economic, social and justice policies

The party's reputation for economic stewardship was dealt a blow by Black Wednesday in 1992, in which billions of pounds were spent in an effort to keep the pound within the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) system at an overvalued rate. Combined with the recession of the early 1990s 'Black Wednesday' allowed Tony Blair and then-Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to promise greater economic competence.

One concrete economic policy of recent years has been opposition to the European single currency. Anticipating the growing Euro scepticism within his party, John Major negotiated a British opt-out from the single currency in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, although several members of Major's cabinet, such as Kenneth Clarke, were personally supportive of EMU participation. Following Major's resignation after the 1997 defeat, each of the four subsequent Conservative leaders, including David Cameron, have positioned the party firmly against the adoption of the euro. This policy is broadly popular with the British electorate.

Following Labour's victory in the 1997 general election, the Conservative Party opposed Labour's decision to grant the Bank of England independent control of interest rates--on the grounds that it would be a prelude to the abolition of the pound sterling and acceptance of the European single currency, and also expressed concern over the removal of monetary policy from democratic control. However, Bank independence was popular amongst the financial community as it helped to keep inflation low. The Conservatives accepted Labour's policy in early 2000.

The Conservative Party under David Cameron has redirected its stance on taxation, still committed to the general principle of reducing direct taxation whilst arguing that the country needs a "dynamic and competitive economy", with the proceeds of any growth shared between both "tax reduction and extra public investment".

In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-9, the Conservatives had not ruled out raising taxes, and have said it will be difficult to scrap the 50% top rate of income tax. Since coming to power, they have said that the 50% top rate will be dropped to 45% in 2013 and 40% in 2014. They have said how they would prefer to cut a recent rise in national insurance. Furthermore, they have stated that government spending will need to be reduced, and have ringfenced only international aid and the NHS. Details of the cuts to government spending under the Conservative-Liberal coalition can be found in the following article: United Kingdom government austerity programme.

Over the past 20 years, and more, liberal 'modernisers' in the party have claimed that the perceived historical association between social conservatism and the Conservatives (manifest in policies such as tax incentives for married couples, the removal of the link between pensions and earnings, and criticism of public financial support for those who do not work) have played a role in the electoral decline of the party in the 1990s and early 2000s. For example, David Willetts has criticised what he termed "the war on single parents", whilst former Conservative Party Chairman Brian Mawhinney observed that the party had "created the impression that if you weren't in a traditional nuclear family, then we weren't interested in you". Since 1997 a debate has continued within the party between 'modernisers' such as Michael Portillo, who believe that the Conservatives should modify their public stances on social issues, and 'traditionalists' such as William Hague and David Davis, who believe that the party should remain faithful to its traditional conservative platform. This may have resulted in William Hague's and Michael Howard's pre-election swings towards the Right in 2001 and 2005, as well as the election of the stop-Kenneth Clarke candidate Iain Duncan Smith in 2001. Theresa May famously remarked that the result of all this was that the Conservatives were perceived as "the nasty party". Since the election of Cameron the 'modernisers' appear to have been given a full voice on social policy.

The Party is no longer socially conservative, and nowhere is this more obvious than their open support for homosexuals, until 47 years ago an imprisonable offence. The party's championing of homosexual marriage has been the last straw for small armies of grass-roots members who have left the party in droves.

In 2010, the Conservatives campaigned with the conviction to cut the perceived bureaucracy of the modern police force and pledged greater legal protection to people convicted of defending themselves against intruders. They also supported the creation of a UK Bill of Rights, however this was vetoed by their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats. Some Conservatives, particularly within the socially conservative Cornerstone Group, support the re-introduction of the death penalty; although the majority of party members oppose it.

In the United Kingdom, the Chairman of the Conservative Party is responsible for running the party machine, overseeing Conservative Central Office. When the Conservatives are in power, the Chairman is usually a member of the Cabinet being given a sinecure position such as Minister without Portfolio. Deputy or vice-chairmen may also be appointed, with responsibility for specific aspects of the Conservative Party (for example, local government, women or youth).

2.1.2 Foreign and European union policies

For much of the 20th century, the Conservative party took a broadly Atlanticist stance in relations with the United States, favouring close ties with the United States and similarly aligned nations such as Canada, Australia and Japan. The Conservatives have generally favoured a diverse range of international alliances, ranging from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the Commonwealth of Nations.

Close US-British relations have been an element of Conservative foreign policy since World War II. Winston Churchill during his 1951-1955 post-war premiership built up a strong relationship with the Eisenhower Administration in the United States. Harold Macmillan demonstrated a similarly close relationship with the Democratic administration of John F. Kennedy. Though the US-British relationship in foreign affairs has often been termed a 'Special Relationship', a term coined by Sir Winston Churchill, this has often been observed most clearly where leaders in each country are of a similar political stripe. The former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher built a close relationship with the American President Ronald Reagan in his opposition to the former Soviet Union, but John Major was less successful in his personal contacts with George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Out of power and perceived as largely irrelevant by American politicians, Conservative leaders Hague, Duncan-Smith, and Howard each struggled to forge personal relationships with presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. However, the Republican 2008 presidential candidate, John McCain, spoke at the 2006 Conservative Party Conference.

The Conservatives have proposed a Pan-African Free Trade Area, which it says could help entrepreneurial dynamism of African people. The Conservatives have also pledged to increase aid spending to 0.7% of national income by 2013.

David Cameron had sought to distance himself from former US President Bush and his neoconservative foreign policy, calling for a "rebalancing" of US-UK ties and met Barack Obama during his 2008 European tour. Despite traditional links between the UK Conservatives and US Republicans, and between Labour and the Democrats, London Mayor Boris Johnson, a Conservative, endorsed Obama in the 2008 election.

Beyond relations with the United States, the Commonwealth and the EU, the Conservative Party has generally supported a pro free-trade foreign policy within the mainstream of international affairs. The degree to which Conservative Governments have supported interventionist or non-interventionist presidents in the US has often varied with the personal relations between a US President and the British Prime Minister.

No subject has proved more divisive in the Conservative Party in recent history than the role of the United Kingdom within the European Union. Though the principal architect of the UK's entry into the European Communities (which became the European Union) was Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, and both Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan favoured some form of European union, the bulk of contemporary Conservative opinion is opposed to closer economic and particularly political union with the EU. This is a noticeable shift in British politics, as in the 1960s and 1970s the Conservatives were more pro-Europe than the Labour Party. Divisions on Europe came to the fore under the premiership of Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) and were cited by several ministers resigning, including Geoffrey Howe, the Deputy Prime Minister, whose resignation triggered the challenge that ended Thatcher's leadership. Under Thatcher's successor, John Major (1990-1997), the slow process of integration within the EU forced party tensions to the surface. A core of Eurosceptic MPs under Major used the small Conservative majority in Parliament to oppose Government policy on the Maastricht Treaty. By doing so they undermined Major's ability to govern.

In recent years the Conservative Party has become more clearly Eurosceptic, as the Labour Government has found itself unwilling to make a positive case for further integration, and Eurosceptic or pro-withdrawal parties such as the United Kingdom Independence Party have made showings in UK elections. But under current EU practices, the degree to which a Conservative Government could implement policy change regarding the EU would depend directly on the willingness of other EU member states to agree to such policies.

In 2009 the Conservative Party actively campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty, which it believes would give away too much sovereignty to Brussels. Shadow Foreign SecretaryWilliam Hague stated that, should the Treaty be in force by the time of an incoming Conservative government, he would "not let matters rest there". However, on 14 June 2009 the shadow Business Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said in an interview to the BBC that the Conservative party would not reopen negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty if the Irish backed it in a new referendum, which they did on 2 October 2009.

The Conservatives staunchly support the maintenance of the United Kingdom, and oppose the independence of any of the countries of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland from it. They have had a mixed history on support for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolution.

In 1968, Edward Heath issued his 'Perth declaration', in support of a Scottish assembly, in the wake of growing nationalism. However, the cause went unanswered during his turbulent premiership, and under Margaret Thatcher and John Major's leadership, the Conservatives vehemently opposed devolution, and campaigned against it in the 1997 devolution referendum. Following the Scottish Parliament's establishment in 1999, they have vowed to support its continued existence, and along with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, they supported the Scotland Bill (2011), granting further devolution of power.

In Wales, the Conservatives campaigned against devolution in the 1997 referendum, however likewise as with Scotland, they have vowed to maintain the Welsh Assembly's continued existence, and in 2011 supported the further devolution of power.

In Northern Ireland, the Conservatives suspended the parliament in 1973 in the wake of the growing Troubles, and made unsuccessful attempts to re-establish it in the same year, and in 1982. They supported the Belfast Agreement negotiated by the Blair government in 1998, and in 2009, negotiated an electoral pact with the declining Ulster Unionist Party, whom it had previously been allied to before 1973.

The party opposed Labour's attempts to devolve power to the northern regions of England in 2004. However, they have recently declared support for a commission into the West Lothian Question, as to whether or not only English MPs should be able to vote on issues solely affecting English matters.

The Conservative Party aims to build enhanced bilateral defence relations with key European partners and believes that it is in Britain's national interest to cooperate fully with all its European neighbours. They have pledged to ensure that any EU military capability must supplement and not supplant British national defence and NATO, and that it is not in the British interest to hand over security to any supranational body.

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