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To what extent are there differences between the Labour and Conservative parties over policies and ideas?

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Introduction

To what extent are there differences between the Labour and Conservative parties over policies and ideas? Labour and Conservatism, as explored in the question above, are homes to a numerous amount of sub ideologies that form various different factions within the party. For the purposes of this essay, I will use the most mainstream factions as indicators of policy for the entire party. The Labour party was a party that rose to prominence in the 1920s and was the left-wing alternative to the Conservatives. In modern times this period of Labour's history has been termed as the days of 'old Labour'. Old Labour stood for workers rights, as evidenced by the presence of Clause 4; 'To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service'. ...read more.

Middle

For example, New Labour has long since abandoned its socialist roots in order to appeal to the wider electorate, which has been defined in Britain as Conservative with a small c. This move, made by Tony Blair in 1994, made the party widely popular in the 1997 elections and had allowed him to win against the Conservatives by a landslide. The Conservatives were seen as old and tired, and New Labour capitalized on this by mixing concepts of both negative and positive freedom together, accepting the need for a largely unregulated economy and healthy competition, but retaining a Welfare state and large portions of civil service sectors [NHS, Rail, State schools etc]. This dynamic 'third way, articulated by the Leader Tony Blair, was seen as a refreshing change to the black and white times of old, and brought about the new age of pragmatism over ideology, disinheriting their old Clause 4. At the turn of the millennium, a reformed Conservative party began to emerge. ...read more.

Conclusion

Very little distinguishes the mainstream factions of both the parties, the Right [Fabians] of New Labour and the Left [Wets] of Conservatives are extremely similar to each other. It is possible to argue that this gap will widen itself again sometime in the future though. Ed Miliband, the newly elected leader of the Labour party, is more left leaning than his predecessors, believing in the existence of the 50p tax band, removal of charitable status from Private schools and a return to a more regulated economy. On the other side of the fence, the Conservative backbenchers are increasingly frustrated by Cameron's compromises to the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition, believing his policies to not hold true to the Conservative mantra of traditionalism. If either of these two factions rises to power, we could see a revival back to the days of ideology over pragmatism, or potentially this is merely just a blip on the ever-tapering nature of politics until we reach a singularity. ...read more.

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