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Mr John Smith

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Political Parties
Short Questions

1. What is a political party? • A political party is a body that seeks to gain power in Parliament • Exercise government power by putting themselves up for election and gaining the support of the public. • They are grouped together by sharing common values and ideologies • Offer policies across a range of issues. • Examples include Labour and the Conservatives

2. Distinguish between a political party and a faction • A faction is a group of like-minded politicians, formed around a key leader or in support of a set of preferred policies, and operating within the House of Commons. E.g Cornerstone within the Conservatives • Political parties are more disciplined versions of factions • Have wider membership and organisation outside of parliament.

3. What is party government? • A system through which single parties are able to form governments • Parties have clear ideological convictions and develop rival programmes • Governing party is able to claim popular mandate and enjoys sufficient unity and cohesion to make government policies • Government is accountable to electorate through its mandate and opposition parties. E.g Labour won landslide victory n 1997, but in 2005 its majority was decreased

4. What is a two party system? • A two-party system is where there are only two major political parties dominating the system. E.g Labour and Conservatives • Only 2 parties have the chance of winning government power, even with minor parties • The larger of the two parties is able to rule alone, and the other party provides opposition • Power alternates regularly between the parties, both are “electable”, and the opposition is merely “government in the wings”

5. What is a multiparty system? • A system where more than two parties compete for power • No single party has sufficient electoral or parliamentary strength to win governmental power alone • Governments tend to be coalitions or minority administrations, leads to either consensus and compromise or instability. • Power can shift following and in between elections as coalitions are broken and formed

6. Distinguish between a manifesto and a mandate • A manifesto is a pamphlet that will outline the policies or programme that a party intends to introduce once in power • A mandate is an instruction or command that gives authority to a person or body to act in a particular way. • People vote for parties based on their manifesto, and in doing so give them the mandate to form a government and carry out the policies in the manifesto.

7. Define consensus politics using an example • Consensus politics is when the major political parties have a general agreement over policies on certain issues. • For example, in the 1950s and 1960s, the Conservatives accepted the reforms of the Attlee Labour government in social reformation and to an extent, economic policy

8. Define adversarial politics using an example • Where the major political parties have major conflicts over policies, and offer rival policies and positions on issues • E.g. early 1980s, where Conservatives and Labour were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Thatcher government rejected most of previous governments’ policies, and Labour promised to undo her legacy if they came to power.

Medium Questions

9. Explain three functions of political parties • Representation: primary function by appealing to the masses via developing policies that appeal to many. Major UK parties called “catch-all parties” • Parties link government and people by responding and articulating public opinion. E.g, people can complain to their local MP on different matters. • Policy formulation: One of the key means of setting collective goals and formulating public policy. • Parties initiate and formulate programmes of government. Set out in their manifesto. • Recruitment of leaders: All senior political careers start with joining a political party. They gain valuable experience and training which can lead to nomination and ultimately Prime Minister.

10. How do political parties carry out representation? • Link government to people by responding to and articulating public opinion • They develop policies that appeal to the mass of the electorate • Major UK parties are “catch-all” parties • Winning party in an election can thus claim a popular mandate to carry out its policies – ensuring representation. • Parties that do not come to government take the form of opposition – who articulate the opinions of those who are opposed to the government • All sides are represented – but not necessarily elected, e.g. in the UK parties may have support but no link to government as their MP wasn’t elected

11. How do political parties achieve their aims? • Offering a coherent ideological programme of policy providing the electorate with choice. E.g. Labour are now much more broad in its aims than it was several decades ago. • Manifesto is normally broad with a range of policies to appeal to many – catch all • Representing opinion of as many people as they can • Recruiting members to help support their campaign through funding and party activism. E.g. members must pay a fee to join the party • And training of potential political leaders who could help gain more votes in the future. All senior politicians start their career in a political party. • Winning elections. This implies that political parties win the policy debate with their rivals, unsuccessful parties may respond by reassessing their policy position. • If they don’t win the election, political parties form opposition to the current government and scrutinise their actions

12. How do the Labour and Conservative parties elect their leaders? • Labour: with vacancy, nominations must be supported by 12.5% of PLP(Parliamentary Labour Party) • Voting takes place consecutively in 3 sections, 1 = Labour MPs and MEPs, 2 = individual members of Labour Party, 3 = trade unions and socialist societies • Candidate must receive more than half the votes, if none, votes are redistributed and some candidates are eliminated. • Conservatives: with vacancy can be nominated by any 2 MPs, no vacancy leadership contest called by parliamentary party passing vote of no confidence, called when 15% of MPs write to chairman of 1922 Committee • If more than 2 candidates, MPs hold ballots, candidate with fewest votes is eliminated each round. • All paid-up party members are eligible to vote for one of 2 remaining candidates, FPTP.

13. Explain three policies of the Conservative party • Raising inheritance tax boundary to £1 million • Referendum on Treaty of Lisbon • Address West Lothian question decisively.

14. Explain three policies of the Labour party • 50% tax rate on earners over 150k • ID cards – national security • 42 day detention laws

15. Explain three policy differences between the Labour and Conservative parties
|Labour |Conservative |
|ID - Fully support their integration |ID cards – no support and scrap them, save money for other |
| |things |
|Further EU integration |Referendum on Treaty of Lisbon – support a no vote. |
|Terrorist detention laws – trying to push them through 42 day |Against them, violating human rights – David Davis, shadow home|
|detention |secretary resigned. |

16. Explain three ways in which “new” Labour differs from “old” Labour. • Change in Clause 4, less socialist. Old way: “common ownership of the means of production, distribution etc...” • New clause: “work for a dynamic economy, serving the public interest.....thriving public sector” • Accepted Thatcherism and capitalist values, building on Thatcherism • “Third Way” approach to welfare, shown by huge increases in health and education spending, targeted benefits instead of universal benefits and emphasis on “welfare-to-work”, – welfare programs giving training and skills • Change from “cradle to grave” welfare. • Based on “social entrepreneurialism” – public services more market orientated and consumer responsive. • Strengthen responsibility and social duty, introduction of new public order laws, prison population rose steeply and series of new anti-terrorism laws introduced.

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