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To what extent is there a consensus in the British party system?

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Introduction

AS Government & Politics - Examination Question on Political Parties To what extent is there a "consensus" in the British party system? (25 marks) The traditional stereotype of the two main political parties in Britain is that the Conservative is right-leaning whilst Labour is left leaning. However, in the last 10 years both parties have been shifting to the centre. Economical, social and political policies of the two main parties have seen itself to be overlapping. Political scientists believes this is a sign of an unhealthy democracy as there is an insufficiency in legitimate political choices for voters to choose from, resulting to the general public feeling they can no longer distinguish the likes of the Conservatives and Labour. This phenomenon is said to be dangerous as it leads the general public to either being disillusioned with politics and desperate for change thus they turn to the extreme, or they simply give up their right or perhaps responsibility to vote with the belief that there is no point and that they cannot influence politics. Indeed, go back 20 years in time and stark contrasts can be seen between Thatcher's Conservative Party and the Labour Party back then. Of cause, the main thing which drew the big, clear line between the two parties was Labour's Clause 4. It stated Labour would secure "workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry" as well as support the idea of "common ownership". ...read more.

Middle

This is because the country is heavily in debt at the moment and the only way out is for slashes in government. As seen, the policy of the two main parties overlaps thus consensus regarding the subject of social welfare and spending is present to an extent. Social Justice and law and order are perhaps one of the most relevant topics to voters. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens are perhaps most willing to study the causes of crime however most if not all parties have promised to be "tough on crime". In this area, there is a good consensus between the parties as they all recognize the need to cut down crime rates although their methods of achieving this might differ. In terms of politics, the European Union is one of the main topics; at the end of the day this is only fair as 75% of our law is made there. The Labour Party is happy for further European integration, so as the Liberal Democrats although Nick Clegg has called for a reduction in democratic deficit in the Union. This is because both parties are reasonably pro-free trade. However, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats don't seem to be aware of the political consequences in being part of a political union; the EU can control everything from hedge funds we own to what light bulbs we are allowed to use in our houses. ...read more.

Conclusion

The reason for this is simple - the parties have realised their past mistakes. Tony Blair realized from the failures of the 1980's that a party cannot be dominated by unionists. David Cameron learnt from the failures of the late 1990's and realised the only way the Tories is going to get into power is by appealing to everyone - especially the middle class. He said in the party conference speech that the Conservatives must not only be "the party for the rich". In many ways, the voters have placed a substantial role in centralizing politics; they have proven to politicians that they are not attracted by the extreme left or the extreme right but rather moderate politics contributing to stability and progress. However, regardless of exaggerated media reports or opinions from fanatic extremists, the two main political forces in the country are not the same and when you put in the other political forces such as the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens, Respect and BNP, the differences and the lack in consensus between the parties simply cannot be clearer. There are things which Cameron's Conservatives would not have done if they were in power instead of Labour; there are also things in which Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats would not have done if they were in power instead of Labour. Ahead of the election season, parties will try even harder to distinguish themselves from each others to unleash their self promoted uniqueness in attempt to capture and attract swing voters. ...read more.

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