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

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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’.

This ideology was heavily at odds with the Conservative ‘Whig’ party at the time, which emphasized a deregulated economy and a large emphasis on the individual over a collective group, Ala Labour and worker ‘solidarity’. It is important to note that these two differences can be separated not only by the ‘left’ and the ‘right’, but also by differing views on what ‘freedom’ and ‘human nature’ really is. The Conservative party falls under the view of Negative Freedom, which articulated that so long as humanity has a clear freedom to express choice, and then he is free [Being free from interference from others in effect]. A man in poverty was in poverty because he chose to be lazy and not obtain a job, and he has the ‘choice’ to starve or the ‘choice’ to work. Following negative freedom to its logical conclusion, we can see that the emphasis on the individual leads to a conceptual view of humanity being naturally greedy, so called original sin, and that we can only fufill our true potential ourselves.  The Labour party on the other hand believes in positive liberty, a freedom from inhibitions within society itself, believing that human beings are ultimately social and cooperative creatures by nature, and that we can only fulfill our true potential by working together and removing prejudices within such a system. This conflict formed the basis of all others during the early 1900s, culminating with the end of John Major’s Government and the reformation of both parties to a more centrist view, New Labour and the revival of One Nation Conservatism, after the New Right had effectively collapsed.

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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 ...

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