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Consverative and Labour Differences

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Assess the view that the Labour and Conservative Party are dominated by their respective leaders (25 marks) Party leaders often form the definitive icon of an era this can be mostly traced down to their dominance or lack of. Throughout history leaders of parties have formed the very basis for the direction of the country to the extent that there is a new ideology formed - examples of this include Disraeli's One State Conservatism or Blair's Blairite ideology. However, another important question which links with the dominance of a leader is their dominance within their party. The Conservatives have, as is suggested in their name, been a fairly traditional. This embodies strong leadership, like that of Churchill or Disraeli. This was believed to the extent that the American writer Ranney said that it was "autocratic" in its nature. He cites examples such as the aforementioned and also Harold Macmillan and Margaret Thatcher. It seems that Conservative policy follows the line of a strong leader. Indeed, it is the party leader who has sole responsibility for writing the manifesto. ...read more.


He or she also appoints people to his shadow cabinet or if he or she is in power, he appoints people to the executive - the cabinet. These array of powers show how the Conservative leader dominated the party. This power, in turn, leads to either further the dominance if they have won the election or complete downfall if they have not. As a result of the power which is places upon them, members of the Conservative Party have shown not to act kindly to those who lead their failings. This is evident in the downfalls of John Major, Thatcher and to a lesser extent Michael Howard. Labour, who had originally had no leader (just a chairman), decided opt for a party leader in 1918 when it had become a large party. Accordingly, in the same year they imposed a codified set of rules that this party had to follow. The constitution set down that the leader must attend parliamentary Labour party (PLP) meetings. This is a reference to a collective group of Labour MPs. ...read more.


Blair was accused of turning Cabinet meeting into measly meetings where Ministers "rubber-stamped" the policy that was predetermined in bilateral meetings. To conclude, it has been shown that the Conservative leader - in theory - can dominate his party but this seems to be done with the consent and spirit of the party in fear of resignations (as with Thatcher). This means that while some leaders may dominate, it is only through the insecure mandate which they have been given which they can do so. This is in stark contrast with the Labour leader who in theory should not be permitted to dominate the party but as has been shown, in practice has resulted in one of the most dominant world leaders in history. As a final note, while both party leaders have immense power, they are both subject to their party: they can not lead to party into a polar-opposite direction. This would result in a mass rebellion and tear the party in two. Thus they both fear a disunited party which is one of the ultimate checks on their dominance. ...read more.

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