Britains Political Parties
1. History and Party Profiles
1.1. History of the Conservatives
-oldest political party in the world
-political parties in england began tho form from during the civil wars
of the 1640s and 1650s (First of all Royalists and Parlamentarians, later Whigs (now Liberals) and Tories (Conservatives)
-call themselve as a „party of change“
Pitt the Younger: held power for 18 years as longest-serving Prime Minister connected to
the party and lay the basis of modern prosperity by opening up free
trade and reforming the public finances
Sir Robert Peel and the foundation of the Conservative Party:
Took over the leadership in 1834 and set out the principles of a „moderate, progressive conservatism, governing in the interests of all classes“
outlawed the employment of woman and children in the mines
introduced regulation of factory hours and public health
legislated the Corn Laws
Benjamin Disraeli: had a „one nation vision“ and advanced the gap between rich and poor
Salisbury and Balfour: Distributed the power into localism to empower individuals and communities, free primary schooling
Baldwin and Chamberlain stand for welfare without socialism (first comprehensive welfare system and unemployment benefit), men and women vote on equal terms
Other leaders: Winston Churchill (stood firmly against fascism and permitted free schools for all) and Margaret Thacher (privatized many nationalized industries, restored economic stability)
1.2. History of the Labour Party
The Labour Party was founded out of trade unionists and socialists in 1900 as a parliamentary pressure group united by the plan of changing the british parliament. It is following a democratic socialist ideology.
Only in a few years the Labour Party developed into one of the most powerful parties of the country: in 1924 it was the first time when Labour allied the Liberal Party, but it held only a few months. After the elections five years later in 1929, the Labour Party was the largest Party in Britain for the 1st time until 1931. Additionally Margaret Bondfield became the first female cabinet minister of any party.
In the 1930s and 1940s after the crushing 1931 defeat when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister, they were invited to join the government in a „war-time coalition“ to face the future.
The turnout of 1945 was the first time ever gave it a true majority in parliament. After that landslide victory economic recession became worse and from 1951 on they remained in opposition for 13 years. The new party leader Harold Wilson had the plan of a „New Britain“. On the one hand, capital punishment was abolished, and on the other, Britains Parliament legizlized abortion, divorce and homosexuality.
In the 1990s Tony Blair tried to stop all up and downs in the party. So he assumed control of the party in 1994 and presented the party at the elections 1997 more gentler and kinder. Again the Labour Party could win absolute majority and Tony Blair governanced until 2007 and lost more and more sympathy because he supported the U.S. war with Iraq. Then Gordon Brown replaced him as party leader and as prime minister.
In 2010 Labour party wasn’t re-elected and Ed Miliband became the new leader, pledging to restore trust in the party.
1.2. History of the Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats (short: Lib Dems) were formed in 1988 by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. At the beginnings it was really hard to win the voters over but surprisingly they won 17.8% of the seats at their first election 1992. In 1999 Ashdown retired as leader and Charles Kennedy was elected. Under him they showed their attitude against war in Iraq and support of civil liberties and electoral reforms.
On 18 December 2007 Nick Clegg won the leadership election and in 2010 they reached 23% of the seats, but in a recent poll only 8% would vote the Lib Dems. This outcome is the lowest level of support in any opinion poll since September 1990.
1.3. Other Parties
Democratic Unionist Party, 8 MPs (Northern Ireland)
Scottish National Party, 6MPs
Sinn Féin, 5MPs (Northern Ireland)
Plaid Cymru, 3 MPs (Party of Wales)