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Assess the view that liberalism has triumphed as the dominant ideology in contemporary British politics

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Introduction

ASSESS THE VIEW THAT LIBERALISM HAS TRIUMPHED AS THE DOMINANT IDEOLOGY IN CONTEMPORARY BRITISH POLITICS When establishing whether liberalism is the dominant ideology in contemporary British politics, we must first establish the meaning of the key terms; liberalism, ideology and contemporary. The Oxford English Dictionary defines contemporary as, "living or occurring in the same or present modern period". This basically means present day. When defining ideology we must understand that there are a variety of ways in which it could be interpreted. In a political context ideology is; a perspective of the world in which there are a set of values and a plan of action as to how to achieve this and a view of the future of an ideal society. This therefore means, in the context of the question the modern, present day ideology. As I stated before, we must establish what liberalism means. There are two types of liberalism; classic and modern. It could be argued that as one of the major political ideologies in British politics today, liberalism is distinguished between by the importance it attaches to the civil and political rights of individuals as described by Hobhouse. Liberals demand a sustainable realm of personal freedom - including freedom of conscience, speech, association, occupation, and, more recently, sexuality - which the state should not intrude upon, except to protect us from harm. ...read more.

Middle

Also due to increased use of spin-doctors and special advisers it could be argued that politics is no longer about ideology. As Rory Bremner from the BBC stated on Breakfast with Frost, " politics is all about image and no longer about ideology". This means that in modern politics it is not the fact that the Labour Party is dominant rather Tony Blair is the best leader out of all the parties. It seems like the Liberal Party has lost its distinctive policy which made it so popular in 1900s. After World War II, post war consensus was the new political concept. This concept was that all the parties are getting much narrower thus meaning there will be a blurring of policies and ideologies. In 1942, whilst the Liberal Party was suffering its worst electoral campaign in it's history, William Beveridge, a liberal civil servant, set out a blue print for the modern welfare state. It was based on the idea that liberty was less threatened by laws and governments than by social evils such as poverty, unemployment, ill health and poor living conditions. It followed from this that state action to reduce such evils would provide greater freedom. Beveridge proposed that the state had a responsibility to look after all of its citizens. The practical thoughts of Beveridge's liberal thinking resulting in the modern welfare state, free education, and national health service. ...read more.

Conclusion

It proposed collectivist solutions to most social and economic problems - state ownership of major industries such as railway or gas, an extensive welfare state, strong links with trade unions and high levels of taxation. This seems like it needed to be changed because the Labour party had been out of power for eighteen years. The second way is Thatcher's way as I have described earlier. This proposed free market capitalism, pursuit of individual self-interest and low levels of taxation. In many ways, the first and second ways are totally opposite to each other. Finally the new third ways combines some Thatcherite policies such as free market capitalism with socialist policies such as extensive welfare state. As soon as the Third Way came to the forefront of our political agenda, it was elected into power. This shows how dominant liberalism really is as an ideology because since they adopted liberal concepts, they were elected. To conclude it could be argued that liberalism has triumphed as the dominant ideology because some of the major parties want to use those policies. It must be stressed that liberalism itself has been a highly successful movement challenging conservatism and socialism with great effect. It in only the Liberal Party that has declined. In short, most of the liberal clothes have been stolen by others and are still being worn by them. Despite disagreements about its philosophical foundations, the basic language of liberalism - individual rights, liberty, equality of opportunity - has become the dominant language of public discourse in British contemporary politics. ...read more.

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