To what extent is the Labour party still committed to its original principles?

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Grace Turner                                                                                                    21st October 2011

‘To what extent is the Labour party still committed to its original principles?’

The Labour party has often been referred to as a ‘socialist’ party. However, this is misleading. For most of its life – dating back to the eighteenth century, the Labour party has always had less ‘radical’ ideologies than socialism and British ‘socialism’ has always been more moderate than elsewhere in Europe.

However, the Labour party abandoned a number of its previous principles in favour of new ones, in order to move to the centre ground and enable the party to compete with the Conservatives.

It seems that this was ultimately, a successful strategy as it resulted in Labour winning three general elections and beating the Conservatives. Some people are now of the opinion that the Conservatives have, in fact, moved closer to the centre-ground in order to compete with the New Labour party.

Within true socialism, there is the idea that the economy should be based upon ‘production for use’; everything produced is just enough to satisfy human need and demand. Socialism also works to reduce or remove hierarchy. The most radical form of Socialism has been ‘Marxism’. Marxists hold the desire to completely destroy capitalism and its political system. It has been said that Marxism is more like communism than socialism. Although Labour has never been revolutionary, it has always argued that its version of socialism can be achieved in a peaceful way, through parliamentary means.  

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All but the more moderate socialists have viewed social class as a crucial aspect of society. Some socialists assume that the majority of people define their position in society in terms of their social class. This was referred to as ‘class consciousness’ by Karl Marx and the idea is that people tend to develop common interests and purpose with fellow members of their class.  For example, a number of people within the middle classes feel they need to protect private property interests, as well as feeling the need to promote and protect business and to keep tax as low ...

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