Political PartiesCategory: Politics
The Main Political Groupings. The Parties Represented in the Commons
Political parties first emerged in Britain at the end of the 17th century. The Conservative and Liberal Parties are the oldest and until the end of the 19th century they were the only parties elected to the House of Commons. The main British political groupings are the Conservative and Labour Parties and the Party of Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party is the ruling party, the Labour Party — the opposition to the Conservative — and the party of Liberal Democrats is called “conservatively oriented”. Social Democratic Party was formed in 1981 and made an alliance with the Liberal Party in 1988.
There are also some other parties: the Scottish National and Welsh Nationalist Parties.
Because of the electoral method in use, only two major parties obtain seats in the House of Commons. People belonging to smaller political parties join one of the larger parties and work from within to if make their influence felt. The exception to this are members of the Scottish National and Welsh Nationalist Parties, who, because their influence votes are concentrated in specific geographical areas, can manage to win seats although their total support is relatively small.
The Conservative Party
The Tory Party — the Party of Big Business. What Does the Word “Tory” Mean?. Foreign and Home Policy of the Conservative Party
The Conservative Party, often called the Tory Party, is one of those which can trace its roots back to this period. Today the Tory Party is that of big business, industry, commerce and landowners. Most of the money needed to run the party comes from large firms and companies. The party represents those who believe in private enterprise as opposed to state-owned undertakings. There is some division within the party itself: the more aristocratic wing and the lower- middle-class group. The Tories are a mixture of the rich and privileged— the monopolists and landowners. The Conservative Party is the most powerful and is often called a party of business directors.
The word “tory” means an Irish highwayman and was applied to the conservatives by their opponents but later they adopted the name to describe themselves. The Tories opposed the ideas of the French Revolution, Parliamentary Reform and the development of Trade Unionism. Between the two wars it was the Tories in Britain who permitted and encouraged the Nazi rise to power. They represent colonial policy. In home policy they opposed the tendencies of the Labour Party to nationalize gas, electricity, coal and the railways.
The Liberal Party and the Labour Party
Who Are Called the “Whigs”?. The History of the Liberal Party. The History of the Labour Party
The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are more than three hundred years old. The Tories called the Liberals “Whigs”. A “whig” was a Scottish preacher who could go on for 4 or 5 hours at a time preaching moralising sermons. In the middle of the 19th century the Liberal Party represented the trading and manufacturing classes. It’s slogan at that time was “Civil and Religious Liberty”. William Gladstone headed the first administration (1868-74) and for long periods the Liberals had a Parliamentary majority. During the second half of the 19th century many working people looked at the Liberal Party as an alternative to the Conservatives and their policy.
At the end of the 19th century and in the first two decades of this, the Liberals lost the support of working-class voters. In 1988 the Liberal Party made an alliance with Social Democrats and the Party of Liberal Democrats was formed.
The Labour Party, formed in 1900, was the one which drew away working people’s support. It was founded by the Trade Unions. When the Labour Government was first elected in 1945 it showed no radical change in policy from the Tories.
Since 1924, the Labour Party has been in and out of power four times with the Conservatives forming the government for the rest of the time. The social system has remained unchanged. As a result of divisions within the Labour Party its right-wing members broke away in 1981 to form a new organization, the Social Democratic Party. Its policy is very similar to that of the Liberals.
They fought the 1983 election in an alliance with the Liberals, but only a small number of their MPs were elected.