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.

01.06.2014
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The Conservatives see it as a priority to encourage all members of the European Union to do more in terms of a commitment to European security at home and abroad.

Regarding the defence role of the European Union, the Conservatives pledged to re-examine some of Britain's EU Defence commitments to determine their practicality and utility; specifically, to reassess UK participation provisions like Permanent Structured Cooperation, the European Defence Agency and EU Battlegroups to determine if there is any value in Britain's participation.

The Conservative Party upholds the view that NATO should remain the most important security alliance for United Kingdom. They believe that NATO, which has been the cornerstone of British security for the past 60 years, should continue to have primacy on all issues relating to Europe's defence, and pledged in 2010 to make NATO reform a key strategic priority.

They have also called on the so-called fighting/funding gap to be changed and have called on the creation of a fairer funding mechanism for NATO's expeditionary operations. As well as this, the Conservatives believe that there is scope for expanding NATO's Article V to include new 21st Century threats such as energy and cyber security.

2.1.3 Welfare, health and drug policies

Improving the welfare of Britain's military service personnel is a priority for the Conservative Party. One of their main goals is to repair the Military Covenant and strengthen the ties between the armed forces and government. Policies introduced in 2010 include those to double the operational bonus for troops serving in Afghanistan; to fund higher education for children of those service personnel killed in action; and to properly resource and staff the NHS to deal optimally with the particular needs of the Armed Forces.

Mental health has always been a very important issue for the Conservative Party, particularly when it comes to service personnel. The Party is committed to addressing issues of mental health before they arise with a mental health follow-up telephone service for veterans and personnel who have deployed on operations or to places in support of operations. This is customer-service driven and at the convenience of the veteran. The Conservative Party has also pledged to support greater awareness of the programmes that offer help to armed forces personnel.

In 1945, the Conservatives first declared support for universal healthcare. Since entering office in 2010, they have introduced the Health and Social Care Act, constituting the biggest reformation that the NHS has ever undertaken. However, there has been much criticism and protest about the 2010 government's actions on the NHS, focussing on budget cuts and privatisation of services. After a 2013 union protest said by police to have been one of the largest protests seen in Manchester, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said that austerity was having a devastating effect, with 21,000 NHS jobs lost over the previous three months alone, and that "The NHS is one of Britain's finest achievements and we will not allow ministers to destroy, through cuts and privatisation, what has taken generations to build." The Department of Health responded that there was "absolutely no government policy to privatise NHS services".

Views on drug legality and policing vary greatly within the conservative party. Many Conservative politicians such as Alan Duncan take the libertarian approach that individual freedom and economic freedom of industry and trade should be respected. Other Conservative politicians, despite being economically liberal, are in favour of full prohibition of the ownership and trade of many drugs. Other Conservatives are in the middle ground, favouring stances such as looser regulation and decriminalisation of some drugs. Legalization of cannabis for medical uses is favoured by some Conservative politicians.

David Cameron brought several 'green' issues to the forefront of his 2010 campaign. These included proposals designed to impose a tax on workplace car parking spaces, a halt to airport growth, a tax on cars with exceptionally poor petrol mileage, and restrictions on car advertising.

2.1.4 Education and job policies

In education, the Conservatives have pledged to review the National Curriculum, and introduce the English Baccalaureate. The restoration of discipline was also highlighted, as they want it to be easier for pupils to be searched for contraband items, the granting of anonymity to teachers accused by pupils, and the banning of expelled pupils being returned to schools via appeal panels.

In Higher education, the Conservatives have increased tuition fees to 9,000 per year, however have ensured that this will not be paid by anyone until they are earning over 21,000, and that those who fail their studies, will not pay anything at all. The Scottish Conservatives also support the re-introduction of tuition fees in Scotland.

One of the Conservatives' key policy areas of 2010, was to reduce the number of people in the UK claiming state benefits, and increase the number of people in the workforce. They have stated that all those in the UK claiming incapacity benefit, will face a review of their cases. Until 1999, Conservatives opposed the creation of the National Minimum Wage, citing that they believed it would cost jobs, and businesses would be reticent to start business in the UK from fear of high labour costs. However the party have since pledged support. They support, and have implemented, the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings, and seek to raise retirement age from 65 to 66.

2.2 The structure of the party

In the organisation of the Conservative Party, constituency associations dominate the election of party leaders and the selection of local candidates (although some associations have organised open parliamentary primaries), while the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) leads financing, organisation of elections and drafting of policy. The leader of the parliamentary party forms policy in consultation with his cabinet and administration. This decentralised structure is unusual. The Conservative Party Board is the party's ultimate decision making body, responsible for all operational matters (including fundraising, membership and candidates) and is made up of representatives from each (voluntary, political and professional) section of the Party. The Party Board meets about once a month and works closely with CCHQ, elected representatives and the voluntary membership mainly through a number of management sub-committees (such as membership, candidates and conferences).

Membership declined through the 20th century, and, despite an initial boost shortly after David Cameron's election as leader in December 2005, later resumed its decline in 2006 to a lower level than when he was elected. In 2010, the Conservative Party had about 177,000 members. The membership fee for the Conservative Party is 25, or 5 if the member is under the age of 23.

In 2004, according to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission, the party had an income of about 20 million and expenditures of about 26 million.

One-nation conservatism was the party's dominant ideology in the 20th century until the rise of Thatcherism in the 1970s, and included in its ranks Conservative Prime Ministers such as Stanley Baldwin, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath. The name itself comes from a famous phrase of Disraeli. The basis of One-Nation Conservatism is a belief in social cohesion, and its adherents support social institutions that maintain harmony between different interest groups, classes, and--more recently--different races or religions. These institutions have typically included the welfare state, the BBC, and local government. Some are also supporters of the European Union, perhaps stemming from an extension of the cohesion principle to the international level, though others are strongly against the EU. Prominent One Nation Conservatives in the contemporary party include Kenneth Clarke, Malcolm Rifkind and Damian Green; they are often associated with the Tory Reform Group and the Bow Group. One Nation Conservatives often invoke Edmund Burke and his emphasis on civil society ("little platoons") as the foundations of society, as well as his opposition to radical politics of all types. Ideologically, One Nation Conservatism identifies itself with a broad liberal conservative stance. The 'Red Tory' theory of Phillip Blond is a strand of the 'One Nation' school of thought. Prominent 'Red Tories' include Iain Duncan Smith and Eric Pickles in the Cabinet and Jesse Norman on the backbenches.

The second main grouping in the Conservative party is the "free-market wing" of economic liberals who achieved dominance after the election of Margaret Thatcher as party leader in 1975. Their goal was to reduce the role of the government in the economy and to this end they supported cuts in direct taxation, the privatisation of nationalisedindustries and a reduction in the size and scope of the welfare state. Supporters of the "free-market wing" have been labelled as "Thatcherites". The group has disparate views of social policy: Thatcher herself was socially conservative and a practising Anglican but the free-market wing in the Conservative Party harbour a range of social opinions from thecivil libertarian views of Michael Portillo, Daniel Hannan, Douglas Carswell and David Davis to the traditional conservatism of William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith. The Thatcherite wing is also associated with the concept of a "classless society."

Most free-marketeers are also Eurosceptic, perceiving most EU regulations as interference in the free market and/or a threat to British sovereignty. EU centralisation also conflicts with the localist ideals that have grown in prominence within the party in recent years. Rare Thatcherite Europhiles include Leon Brittan. Many take inspiration from Thatcher's Bruges speech in 1988, in which she declared that "we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed at a European level". A number of free-market Conservatives have signed the Better Off Out pledge to leave the EU. Thatcherites and economic liberals in the party also tend to be Atlanticist, identifying strongly with the founding principles of the United States. This was demonstrated with the close friendship between Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan.

Thatcher herself claimed philosophical inspiration from the works of Burke and Friedrich Hayek for her defence of liberal economics. Groups associated with this tradition include the No Turning Back Group and Conservative Way Forward, whilst Enoch Powell and Sir Keith Joseph are usually cited as early influences in the movement

This right-wing grouping is currently associated with the Cornerstone Group (or Faith, Family, Flag), and is the third main tradition within the Conservative Party. The name stems from its support for three British social institutions (though the Church is an English institution): the Church of England, the unitary British state and the family. To this end, they emphasise the country's Anglican heritage, oppose any transfer of power away from the United Kingdom--either downwards to the nations and regions or upwards to the European Union--and seek to place greater emphasis on traditional family structures to repair what they see as a broken society in the UK. They are strong advocates of marriage and believe the Conservative Party should back the institution with tax breaks and have opposed Labour's alleged assault on both traditional family structures and fatherhood. Most oppose high levels of immigration and support the lowering of the current 24 week abortion limit. Some members in the past have expressed support for capital punishment. Prominent MPs from this wing of the party include Andrew Rosindell, Nadine Dorries and Edward Leigh--the latter a prominent Roman Catholic, notable in a faction marked out by its support for the established Church of England. The conservative English philosopher Roger Scruton is a representative of the intellectual wing of the Cornerstone group: his writings rarely touch on economics and instead focus on conservative perspectives concerning political, social, cultural and moral issues.

Sometimes two groupings have united to oppose the third. Both Thatcherite and Traditionalist Conservatives rebelled over Europe (and in particular Maastricht) during John Major's premiership; and Traditionalist and One Nation MPs united to inflict Margaret Thatcher's only major defeat in Parliament, over Sunday trading. Not all Conservative MPs can be easily placed within one of the above groupings. For example, John Major was the ostensibly "Thatcherite" candidate during the 1990 leadership election, but he consistently promoted One-Nation Conservatives to the higher reaches of his cabinet during his time as Prime Minister. These included Kenneth Clarke as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Michael Heseltine as Deputy Prime Minister.

Conservative Future (CF) is the youth movement of the Conservative Party in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The organisation is made up of all members of the Conservative Party who are 30 years old or younger. Conservative Future was founded in 1998. By 2006, it was the largest political organisation on British campuses and the estimated membership, including members on campuses and through constituency associations is 20,000.

Conservative Future Scotland is the independent sister organisation of CF in Scotland. Internationally, Conservative Future participates in the centre-right International Young Democrat Union. Within Europe, it is a founder member of the European Young Conservatives.

CF's purpose is to encourage Conservative Party values and assist in local and general elections. Conservative Future is aided in its aims by Members of Parliament (MPs) and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) with visits to branches. They participate in lectures, debates and many more activities. Many members of Conservative Future branches often go on to contest local and national elections, and the organisation as a whole is increasingly turning to the internet to attract new active members. Conservative Future also plays an important role in the party's campaigning.

Conservative Women's Organisation, abbreviated to CWO, represents the women members of the Conservative Party inEngland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In the latter part of the 20th Century, the organisation was known as the Blue rinse brigade.

The Scottish Conservative Women's Council is the autonomous sister organisation of the CWO in Scotland. The Chairman of the British Section of the European Union of Women also sits on the CWO National Executive.

According to its members, the CWO is

The grassroots network that provides support and focus for women in the Conservative Party

Reaching out to women in all parts of the community

Campaigning on issues of particular concern to women both nationally and internationally

Encouraging women to be politically active and to get elected at all levels

Ensuring that the women's perspective is taken into account because women see things differently to men

Helping the Conservative Party capture the women's vote

3. The Labour party

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom. It has been described as a broad church, containing a diversity of ideological trends from strongly socialist, to more moderately social democratic.

The Labour party was established in 1900 on the initiative of the trade unions and several socialist organizations (the Independent Labour party, the Fabian Society and Social-Democratic Federation). The main aim was to win working class representation in Parliament. This was initially reflected in the name of the party -- Labour Representation Committee. In 1906 this Committee officially adopted the title of the Labour party. The Labour party is a classical party of social-democratic reformism. Up to 1918 the party had no clear-cut programme. Though the Labour party proclaims that socialism is its aim, its concept of socialism is anti-Marxist. In all the years of the Labour party's existence, the conflict between working class politics and the policies of the leadership, reflected in the struggle between right and left in the movement, has always been inherent in the Labour party.

The Labour Party overtook the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s and formed minority governments in1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after which it formed a majority government underClement Attlee. Labour was also in government from 1964 to 1970 under Harold Wilson and from 1974 to 1979, first under Wilson and then James Callaghan. The Labour Party was last in national government between 1997 and 2010 under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, beginning with a landslide majority of 179, reduced to 167 in 2001 and 66 in 2005. Having won 258 seats in the 2010 general election, the party currently forms the Official Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Labour has a minority government in the Welsh Assembly, is the main opposition party in the Scottish Parliament and has 13 MEPs in the European Parliament, sitting in the Socialists group. The Labour Party is a full member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance, and continues to hold observer status in the Socialist International. The current leader of the party is Ed Miliband MP.

The Labour Party was initially formed as a means for the trade union movement to establish political representation for itself at Westminster. It only gained a 'socialist' commitment with the original party constitution of 1918. That 'socialist' element, the original Clause IV, was seen by its strongest advocates as a straightforward commitment to the "common ownership", or nationalisation, of the "means of production, distribution and exchange". Although about a third of British industry was taken into public ownership after the Second World War, and remained so until the 1980s, the right of the party was questioning the validity of expanding on this objective by the late 1950s. Influenced by Anthony Crosland's book, The Future of Socialism (1956), the circle around party leader Hugh Gaitskell felt that the commitment was no longer necessary. While an attempt to remove Clause IV from the party constitution in 1959 failed, Tony Blair, and the 'modernisers' saw the issue as putting off potential voters, and were successful thirty-five years later, with only limited opposition from senior figures in the party.

Party electoral manifestos have not contained the term socialism since 1992. The new version of Clause IV, although still affirming a commitment to democratic socialism, no longer mention the public ownership of industry: In its place it advocates "the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition" with "high quality public services" not necessarily themselves in the public sector.

Historically, influenced by Keynesian economics, the party favoured government intervention in the economy, and the redistribution of wealth. Taxation was seen as a means to achieve a "major redistribution of wealth and income" in the October 1974 election manifesto. The party also desired increased rights for workers, and a welfare state including publicly funded healthcare.

From the late-1980s onwards, the party has adopted free market policies, leading many observers to describe the Labour Party as social democratic or the Third Way, rather than democratic socialist. Other commentators go further and argue that traditional social democratic parties across Europe, including the British Labour Party, have been so deeply transformed in recent years that it is no longer possible to describe them ideologically as 'social democratic', and claim that this ideological shift has put new strains on the party's traditional relationship with the trade unions.

Labour has long been identified with the color red which is traditionally affiliated with social democracy and the Labour movement in political colours; since the parties inception, the Red flag (politics) was the official symbol of the Labour party as it has long been associated as a symbol of socialism since the French revolution and the revolutions of 1848. In 1986 the red rose was adopted as the new official symbol of the party in a rebranding attempt which brought about mixed opinion and is now incorporated into the party logo. The flag in some cases is still used today, more often defaced with the logo of the Labour Party.

The red flag became an inspiration which resulted in the composition of The Red Flag which has been the official party anthem since its inception, being sung at the end of party conferences and on various occasions such as in parliament on February 2006 to mark the centenary of the Labour Party's founding. During New Labour attempts were made to play down the role of the song, however it still remains to be used.

3.1 Party constitution and structure

The Labour Party is a membership organisation consisting of Constituency Labour Parties, affiliated trade unions, socialist societies and the Co-operative Party, with which it has an electoral agreement. Members who are elected to parliamentary positions take part in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP).

The party's decision-making bodies on a national level formally include the National Executive Committee (NEC), Labour Party Conference and National Policy Forum (NPF)--although in practice the Parliamentary leadership has the final say on policy. The 2008 Labour Party Conference was the first at which affiliated trade unions and Constituency Labour Parties did not have the right to submit motions on contemporary issues that would previously have been debated. Labour Party conferences now include more "keynote" addresses, guest speakers and question-and-answer sessions, while specific discussion of policy now takes place in the National Policy Forum.

The governing document for the Labour Party is The Labour Party Rule Book.

The Labour Party Constitution forms the first chapter of the Rule Book and contains the most important principles and provisions for Labour Party governance. The chapter is divided into ten sections named Clause I to Clause X. Clause IV is the most well known Aims and values clause, which was significantly changed in 1995 after Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party.

The rules may be amended by the party's National Executive Committee ratified by the following Labour Party conference.

The Labour Party is an unincorporated association without a separate legal personality, and the rule book legally regulates the organisation and the relationship with members.

The Labour party has always been an association of different class elements -- the working class and groups of the petty bourgeoisie. The working class mass organizations, the trade unions provided the main body of the membership and the finance. The reformist politicians in alliance with the right-wing trade union leaders formed the right-wing leadership.

The party has no long term political programme which would determine the final aims and means to achieve them. Instead the party endorses current political issues containing measures, which the future Labour government intends to implement if the party takes office as a result of a majority in the general elections.

The home policy of the Labour party is based on the principles of reformism. However, the Labour party politicians acknowledge the necessity of carrying out limited socio-economic reforms. In this context they favoured nationalization of the economy (i. e. greater state control of the economy), a state-run health and educational system, some improvements in social security, better housing, etc. In foreign policy the Labour party leadership firmly supports NATO, military, political and economic cooperation with the USA. At the same time the Labour party politicians display flexibility and in their policy statements support peace, detente, arms control, an improvement of relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist states.

The most important development in British politics in recent years has been the growing strength of the militant section of the labour movement reflected in the growing influence of the left wing in the Labour party. Under the pressure of the left-wing positive changes were introduced concerning the election of the leader of the party and the selection of Labour MPs. If in the past the leader of the Labour party was elected by members of the so-called Parliamentary Labour party (that is Labour MPs), now according to the new rules, the leader of the party is elected by a college of electors including representatives of three bodies -- the trade unions, local organizations and the Labour Parliamentary party. These rules provided wider opportunities for the rank-and-file members (in the trade unions, local organizations of the party) to have a greater say in the election of the leader and in the nomination of candidates of the Labour party to represent it in Parliament.

The positive changes in the constitution of the party carried out under the pressure of the working class infuriated the right-wing members. In protest some right-wing politicians left the Labour party in 1981 and formed another party known as the Social-Democratic party (SDP). The latter formed an alliance with the Liberal party and the two parties acted together in one bloc in the elections of 1983 and 1987. In 1988 the two parties finally merged together under the name the Social-Liberal Democratic party. The split in the Labour party revealed new important developments in the labour movement.

There are about 7.3 mln members in the Labour party, of which over 600 thousand are individual members and more than six million collective members. The latter as members of trade unions, cooperative organizations and other institutions which are incorporated in the Labour party automatically become its members. Local party organizations which exist in most of the electoral constituencies form the basis of the party. The annual conference which elects the National Executive with 25 members is the highest organ of the party. The Executive is responsible for the everyday affairs of the party outside Parliament. The leader of the party, his deputy, the treasurer, the Chairman of the party and the general secretary are all members of the National Executive. Debates at annual Labour party conferences are mainly based on resolutions or policy statements from the Executive, and resolutions from the local organizations of the party. Resolutions from trade unions are generally few in number.

As has been noted there is a constant struggle between the right and left wings in the party. The general trend is such that the right wing has a majority among the members of the Parliamentary party, whereas the left wing exerts greater influence in the National Executive.

The Labour party is a member of the Socialist International (an international organization which unites socialist and social-democratic parties). The headquarters of this organization is situated in London. The Labour party politicians strive to play a leading role in this world organization. Between the two World Wars the Labour party grew to supplant the Liberals as the major opposition to the Conservatives, they formed minority governments in 1923 -- 4 and 1929--31, and came to power under Clement Attlee in the landslide victory of 1945. In the post-war period the Labour party was in office in 1945--51, 1964--70, 1974--9. When in opposition, the party elects by secret ballot the 'shadow cabinet' to guide the activity of the Labour faction in the House of Commons. The 'shadow cabinet' includes the leading politicians of the Labour party. The Labour party issues its weekly paper Labour News. As regards some minority parties which are represented in Parliament one should note that the interwar years saw the establishment of the Welsh Nationalist Party (1925), which voices the interests of the Welsh population, and the Scottish Nationalists (1934). After 1945 further minority parties were born, such as the extremely reactionary, anti-immigrant National Front, and the conservationist Ecology Party.

TULO (The Trade Union & Labour Party Liaison Organisation) is the coordinating structure that supports the policy and campaign activities of affiliated union members within the Labour Party at the national, regional and local level.

As it was founded by the unions to represent the interests of working-class people, Labour's link with the unions has always been a defining characteristic of the party. In recent years this link has come under increasing strain, with the RMT being expelled from the party in 2004 for allowing its branches in Scotland to affiliate to the left-wing Scottish Socialist Party. Other unions have also faced calls from members to reduce financial support for the Party and seek more effective political representation for their views on privatisation, public spending cuts and the anti-trade union laws. Unison and GMB have both threatened to withdraw funding from constituency MPs and Dave Prentis of UNISON has warned that the union will write "no more blank cheques" and is dissatisfied with "feeding the hand that bites us".

Labour Students is the student organisation affiliated to the Labour Party of the United Kingdom.

Membership comprises affiliated college and university clubs, which are known as "Labour Clubs". Membership of Labour Students is through membership of a university or college Labour Club or through signing up individually as a Labour Student on the website.

The organisation's main activities include providing political education and training to its members, organising politically within the National Union of Students and sending activists to by-elections and marginal constituencies across the country. Ideology: social democracy, third way.

Young Labour is the youth section of the UK Labour Party. Membership is automatic for Labour Party members aged 14 to 26.

It exists to involve young people in the Labour Party and ensure that the aspirations of young people are reflected in Labour's policies in power. Young Labour members are able to get involved in the Labour Party through local policy events, campaigning or by attending events and social gatherings. Ideology: social democracy, democratic socialism.

Young Labour hosts an annual conference, alternating between national committee elections and policy conferences every other year. Young Labour also holds a range of additional national events, including fringe sessions at the Labour Party's annual conference.

Young Labour is affiliated to both the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) and Young European Socialists (YES).

3.2 Policies of the Labour party

Economic policy. The party insisted it would be relentless in getting value for money from the public sector for every pound spent, finding efficiency savings and eliminating waste.

Labour said it would overhaul the way government runs by cutting back-office costs, getting rid of unnecessary quangos, and by sharply reducing consultancy fees and marketing expenditure.

However, the manifesto ducks the reality that real cuts in public services must be made in order to reduce the government deficit, which will reach 167?billion this year.

Specific economic promises include:

Conservative manifesto

Liberal Democrat manifesto

Brown refuses to rule out VAT rise in manifesto

Labour's money manifesto

Businesses slam 'meaningless' manifesto

Securing the recovery by supporting the economy and more than halving the deficit by 2014 through growth, fair taxes and cuts to lower priority spending

Realising stakes in publicly-controlled banks, introducing a global levy and reforming banking.

Building a high-tech economy and modernising of infrastructure

Supporting business and industry to create one million more skilled jobs.

Creating UK Finance for Growth, bringing 4 billion together to provide capital for growing businesses

No stamp duty for first-time buyers on all house purchases below 250,000 for two years, paid for by a five per cent rate on homes worth more than 1 million.

A National Minimum Wage rising at least in line with average earnings.

As for the health care, Labour believes the NHS is its "greatest achievement":

Key health promises if the party is re-elected include:

Legally binding guarantees for patients including the right to cancer test results within one week of referral, and a maximum 18 weeks' wait for treatment or the offer of going private

Preventative healthcare through routine check-ups for the over-40s

A major expansion of diagnostic testing.

The right to choose a GP in your area open at evenings and weekends.

Education policy. Every primary schoolchild needing one-to-one tuition would receive it under Labour plans and Teach First, a scheme that recruits top graduates into teaching in secondary schools, would be extended to posts at primary schools.

Where parents are unhappy with a school's performance, they would get the power to bring in new school leadership teams through mergers and takeovers.

However, promises to let the best schools take over the worst have been around for several years, and teachers' unions have dismissed a plan for parental ballots as an impractical and unworkable gimmick.

Specific schools policies include:

An expansion of free nursery places for two-year-olds and 15 hours a week of flexible, free nursery education for three and four-year-olds.

Every child leaving primary school secure in the basics.

Giving parents the power to bring in new school leadership teams, through mergers and takeovers, with up to 1,000 secondary schools part of an accredited schools group by 2015.

Every young person guaranteed education or training until 18, with 75 per cent going on to higher education, or completing an advanced apprenticeship or technician level training, by the age of 30

Spending increased on frontline Sure Start and free childcare, schools and 16-19 learning.

Tax. Labour promised not to raise the basic, higher and new top rates of tax during the next Parliament, as part of a plan to keep to fair tax increases while tackling the deficit.

The party also said it would not extend the application of VAT to food, children's clothes, books, newspapers and public transport fares, as this would hurt families on lower incomes.

However the wording of the VAT pledge clearly leaves open the possibility that, if re-elected, a Labour government could raise more money by increasing the rate of the sales tax from the current 17.5 per cent, even if it does not impose it on new classes of goods.

Labour's specific tax policies include:

A new Toddler Tax Credit of 4 a week from 2012

No stamp duty for first-time buyers on all house purchases below 250,000 for two years, paid for by a five per cent rate on homes worth more than 1 million

More help for parents to balance work and family life, with a `Father's Month' of flexible paid leave

Link between the Basic State Pension and earnings re-established from 2012

Help people to build up savings through new Personal Pension Accounts.

Environment. Labour's energy and climate-change policies include:

Achieving around 40 per cent low-carbon electricity by 2020

Creating 400,000 new green jobs by 2015

Making greener living easier and fairer through `pay as you save' home energy insulation

Energy-bill discounts for pensioners

Banning recyclable and biodegradable materials from landfill

Transport. Key transport policies include:

Building a new high-speed rail line linking North and South.

Improving commuter services and electrifying new rail lines.

Completing the east-west Crossrail line in London

Targeted motorway widening, including the M25

No road pricing

Supporting a third runway for Heathrow

Ensuring there are 100,000 electric vehicle charging points by end of next Parliament

Immigration. It will be controlled through an Australian-style points-based system to stop unskilled migration from outside the EU.

All public sector employees who have contact with the public must possess an appropriate level of English language competence, Labour promised.

English tests will be made compulsory for public sector migrant workers.

However, the new language requirement will apply only to people directly employed by local and central government, and not to agency or contract staff, who fill many front-line public service posts. Nor will employees of other public bodies be covered. Business. Labour's business policies include:

Building a high-tech economy

Modernising Britain's infrastructure

Supporting business and industry to create one million more skilled jobs

When selling off Northern Rock, the manifesto says Labour will encourage a mutual solution for the bank that had to be nationalised during the credit crisis.

This policy would give customers stakes in the lender instead of selling shares on the open market, returning it to its former status as a building society.

However, it is not clear how this would lead to the repayment of the billions in public funds that were given to Northern Rock, whereas a straightforward privatisation would be more likely to generate a return for taxpayers.

Foreign policy. Using Britain's international reach to build security and stability - combating terrorism and extremism, curbing proliferation, preventing and resolving conflict, and tackling climate change. Re-energising the drive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, supporting sustainable growth and combating poverty. Reforming the UN, International Financial Institutions, the G8 and G20, and NATO to adapt to the new global challenges.

Leading the agenda for a European Union that delivers jobs, prosperity and global influence.

Constitutional reform. The MPs' expenses scandal has provided a once in a generation opportunity for root and branch reform of Parliament and democracy, the manifesto claims.

Under Labour plans, there would be a referendum in October 2011 on changing the electoral system from first past the post to alternative vote for the House of Commons, and on having a fully elected and renamed House of Lords.

Parliament would have a free vote on lowering the voting age to 16 and legislation would be passed to introduce fixed-term parliaments.

Labour has promised to restore trust in politics by giving voters the power to recall MPs found responsible for financial misconduct.

Police. Failing police forces could be taken over by more effective neighbouring forces, the manifesto says.

This could see chief constables and commanders sacked for failing to meet required standards, and successful techniques shared to spread better policing around Britain.

But officers may face yet more oversight and monitoring from outside, the sort of bureaucracy that the rank and file say is already interfering with their ability to operate effectively.

Council Tax. There will be no council tax revaluation in the next Parliament, but a cross-party commission will review the future of local government finance.

This could go so far as to recommend a local income tax, which would see pensioners pay less tax and families in which several people work pay more.

By again delaying a revaluation, Labour will avoid penalising home owners whose property values have risen. But it is ducking a need to match values to tax bands.

Technology. The unveiling of the Labour Party's election manifesto included an accidental promise of nationwide broadband eight-times faster than it can deliver.

Gordon Brown pledged, on page 1:6 of the manifesto, to roll out broadband at a speed of 2 megabytes -- rather than megabits -- to virtually every house by 2012. One megabyte is equivalent to eight megabits.

Providing speeds of 2 megabytes (16 megabits) would be a near-impossible undertaking as the average British broadband speed is only 4 megabits.

Labour's eight policy commissions are tasked with carrying out the detailed work developing our ideas within their specialist areas. They meet regularly to consider the submissions made through Your Britain and to hear evidence from experts, and are responsible for drafting the Challenge Papers and Policy Documents.

The membership of each of Labour's policy commissions is drawn from our National Policy Forum, the Shadow Cabinet and our National Executive Committee, and reflects all parts of our movement, including grassroots Labour Party members, representatives of affiliates such as trade unions, and elected politicians.

Conclusion

In this research work was considered the political party system of the United Kingdom. Summing up the results of this work we can make some important conclusions.

UK parliamentary government based on the party system has evolved only during the past 100 years. The British party system is based on the assumption that there are at least two parties in the Commons, each with a sufficiently united following to be able to form an alternative government at any time. This assumption is recognized in the fact that the largest minority party is officially designated as Her Majesty's Opposition.

There are two main parties in the United Kingdom: the Conservative Party, and the Labour Party. There is also a significant third party, the Liberal Democrats. From time to time during the past 50 years, other parties have arisen or have splintered off from the main groups, only to disappear or to become reabsorbed.

The Conservative and Unionist Party is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom which adheres to a philosophy of conservatism and British unionism. It is currently the largest single party in the House of Commons ruling in a coalitiongovernment with the Liberal Democrats. Its leader is David Cameron , who is also the Prime Minister.

The Conservative Party was founded in 1834 out of the old Tory Party, founded in 1678, and even today it is still often colloquially referred to as the Tory Party and its members as Tories. It changed its name to "Conservative and Unionist Party" in 1912 after merging with the Liberal Unionist Party although the name is rarely used and it is generally referred to as simply 'The Conservative Party'.

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 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.

Structurally the party consists of 650 local associations, each one covering an electoral constituency. One should remember that the House of Commons is formed by the deputies who have won majority in each of the 650 constituencies of Great Britain.

The Labour party was established in 1900 on the initiative of the trade unions and several socialist organizations. The main aim was to win working class representation in Parliament. This was initially reflected in the name of the party -- Labour Representation Committee. In 1906 this Committee officially adopted the title of the Labour party. The Labour party is a classical party of social-democratic reformism. Up to 1918 the party had no clear-cut programme. Though the Labour party proclaims that socialism is its aim, its concept of socialism is anti-Marxist. In all the years of the Labour party's existence, the conflict between working class politics and the policies of the leadership, reflected in the struggle between right and left in the movement, has always been inherent in the Labour party.

The Labour party has always been an association of different class elements -- the working class and groups of the petty bourgeoisie. The working class mass organizations, the trade unions provided the main body of the membership and the finance. The reformist politicians in alliance with the right-wing trade union leaders formed the right-wing leadership.

The party has no long term political programme which would determine the final aims and means to achieve them. Instead the party endorses current political issues containing measures, which the future Labour government intends to implement if the party takes office as a result of a majority in the general elections.

The home policy of the Labour party is based on the principles of reformism. However, the Labour party politicians acknowledge the necessity of carrying out limited socio-economic reforms. In this context they favoured nationalization of the economy (i. e. greater state control of the economy), a state-run health and educational system, some improvements in social security, better housing, etc. In foreign policy the Labour party leadership firmly supports NATO, military, political and economic cooperation with the USA. At the same time the Labour party politicians display flexibility and in their policy statements support peace, detente, arms control, an improvement of relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist states. There are about 7.3 mln members in the Labour party, of which over 600 thousand are individual members and more than six million collective members. The latter as members of trade unions, cooperative organizations and other institutions which are incorporated in the Labour party automatically become its members. Local party organizations which exist in most of the electoral constituencies form the basis of the party. In the most recent general election in 2010, the result amounted to a hung parliament, and after several days of negotiations, the Labour Party left the government with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats operating a coalition government.

Literature

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