Political Parties Questions

(a) What is the purpose of a political party? (5)

A political party is an organisation that seeks to win political power by putting up candidates for election. They mobilise support in order to win power. They offer differing policy positions across the political spectrum in order to give the electorate a diversity of choice when voting in an election. For example, the Labour Party traditionally believed in providing extensive help for the working-class and trade unions. Furthermore, political parties help to get people active in politics by creating local organisations in every UK constituency. This is very useful for political parties looking to recruit new members.

(b) By what means do MPs seek to serve their constituents? (15)

MPs are elected by their constituents to represent their local and national interests in Parliament and elsewhere. They achieve this through several means available to them. One way is through the media. Evidently, the media is a force that can influence many people. In 1997, journalist Martin Bell ousted Neil Hamilton from the Tatton constituency – his aim was to rid Parliament of the ‘Tory sleaze’ from the Major years. He used the media very effectively during his campaign. Another example of an MP using the media for politics is George Galloway’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. This enabled young people to watch a popular TV programme whilst listening to a politician. However, Galloway’s showing was ridiculed and criticised by some, including members of his own constituency.

        Another way in which MPs can serve their constituents is by putting pressure on the Executive. This can be achieved during Prime Minister’s Question Time. If they repeatedly stand up for a local issue on national television, the Executive will want to be seen as listening to backbenchers and will show that they are willing to help. One could argue this is another example of using the media to serve their constituents.

        MPs also use local fundraising and local campaigns to serve their constituents. Clearly, they must demonstrate to their electorate that they are standing up for their local interests if they are to stand a chance of re-election. For example, the Liberal Democrat MP David Laws met with workers’ representatives from the firm of Hygrade in Chard, where up to 300 people were being made redundant. This was part of his local campaign to stop unemployment in April 2006.

(c) How far do the three main parties offer a distinct set of alternative policies to the voter? (30)

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In recent months, key developments have led to the political realignment of the three main parties. The Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats both have new leaders, with new ideas and policies. David Cameron has attempted to shift the Tories onto the centre-ground of politics, whilst Sir Menzies Campbell is also offering attractive new policies to the electorate. This essay will look at the three main parties’ policies on the economy, healthcare, education, immigration, law and order, constitutional reform and Europe, and the extent to which they offer a distinct set of alternative policies.

During their nine years in power, ...

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