The British Political System: The Political Parties

this is London the capital of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland at one time much of
the world was ruled from here the British Empire stretched from colonies
in America Sultan it’s in India miles in the Caribbean and desert kingdoms in
Africa for such a small place it’s only a bit larger than Greece and even today
has less than 65 million people its influence on the world it’s been
extraordinary Shakespeare the Industrial Revolution English language even the
Beatles all hail from the United Kingdom the UK has also had and still has a
remarkable impact on the Democratic world we see the origins of human rights
law in the Magna Carta signed in the year 12 15 and the UK’s legislature is
called the mother of all Parliament’s because of its role as a model for new
democracies over the past 200 years in world politics the UK is a permanent
member of the United Nations Security Council a leading member of the European
Union and the United States is closest ally there’s no question that knowing
this England as Shakespeare called it is to go a long way towards understanding
democracy itself I’m Bob Beatty and this program will explore the British
political system to better know and understand the keys and nuances of a
parliament that in some form or other has influenced every single democracy
in the world we’ll focus on political parties in the
United Kingdom what are the main policy positions of the labor conservative and
liberal democratic party’s here and what are the key differences and similarities
between the three we’ll try to answer those questions by talking to members of
parliament from these parties in this program the British political parties if
somebody didn’t know a lot about the Conservative Party how would you
characterize the Conservative Party in Great Britain Conservative Party is
basically a party that believes in the freedom of the individual allowing them
choice and opportunity to make their own decisions on behalf of themselves in
their family and what do you believe are they two or three main issues for the
Conservative Party right now winning the next election city main issue there is
no other and what issues I was a Conservative Party in your opinion
strikingly different from the opposition we believe in low taxation so that
people can actually their own money make their own decisions
about how they spend that money we believe in good public services but they
need to be properly managed to properly delivered and the part to make those
decisions are better down at a lower level than at the central government in
Whitehall the Conservative Party was the party of Great Britain throughout the
1980s under Margaret Thatcher and then under Prime Minister John Major however
since 1997 and onwards the Conservatives have been in the doldrums where do they
stand now and how are they going to get out and there’s a political of this we
talked to members of the Conservative Party to find out where they see their
party going though it would main characteristics of
our beliefs and experience our beliefs are centered around the belief in the
individual and in the freedom of the individual to do his best for his own
account coupled with a duty on the part of individuals to look after those who
who aren’t able to look after themselves so it sir its freedom linked with
compassion and that is the basis of our belief system we believe in a strong independent British nation as well and
that leads us into our experience during the last century we were the party of
government for the large majority all of the century and so we have experience of
governments and many experienced people in our ranks which are which are very
valuable for the to the formulation of policy and that’s why we say same old
people same old policies same old Tories well let me let me make it absolutely
clear I’m very happy to debate the past with the Prime Minister anything he
likes I’ve got a great big dossier on his past I’ve got a great big dossier on
his past and I haven’t even had to sex it up it is true that the Conservative
Party also known as the Tories was the party of government for most of the 20th
century it’s also the party that features leaders who have become
household names such as Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher but
after their 1997 loss the party has struggled to find dynamic leadership and
has also struggled to not become as its critics contend the party of the past in
British politics really are an open party life every ones that are reforming
party ones that will look at challenging ideas and come up with radical solutions
we see our opponents in the Conservative Party as people who were stuck in
history who find it difficult to make changes
and there are behind the times and reluctant to to make the changes that
are essential if we could have a performing new democracy well the Kings
conservatives on in a really very difficult position indeed many would
feel the the real skill that the Blairite style of leadership in the
Labour Party has simply been to move the Labour Party very much back into the
centre of British politics or closer to the center of British politics and
essentially have taken many conservative policies adapt to be fair they’ve
adapted them to what they feel are the directions that we should be moving in
but to pretty very simply this stolen the Conservatives clothes also the
Conservatives have some very significant structural problems as well as suffering
too heavy defeats in the elections I just mention of 1997 and 2001
increasingly conservative party to becoming a very old party and when I
mean old it is the average age of a Conservative Party member not
necessarily their mp’s but of those who belong to the conservative party is now
65 the Young Conservatives have now dissin ization for representing you know
much younger members was disbanded a few years ago it had so few members so the
image that conservative party now has if perhaps not one of the relevance it
certainly is one of lacking direction the Conservative Party’s made up people
learn could be read brand new as English little England I mean the very excited
about the role of the Lord Chancellor which is a kind of comic opera Don
Sullivan the creature that should be abolished and visa thousand years ago
but they’re tied to tradition to monarchy to the parson dead stale ideas
and that’s part of the history of the party of the character of the
Conservative Party and they’re incapable of seeing any change contemplating any
change without imposing it we’re in Parliament today a proposal for regional
assemblies which a very sensible very much the time regional setter that
occurs in the United States and Western Europe we have a highly scented air we
are highly Rick we have a highly centralized state and the idea of having
any kind of devolved I for the region’s innovations is an estimate of them but
they are arguably very much yes tidy new Trinity and no one in which we would
want in fibrous new rustic challenging ideas we believe in a strong British
nation but that is we think holy compatible we’ve played a leading role
in the European Union what worries us sometimes is when the European Union
appears to go off the rails itself it appears itself not to share value our
values of freedom and competition and a strong and thriving economy so
when we see the European Union game for a single currency which looks as though
it could be economically damaging to the interests of the European Union we feel
extremely apprehensive and we would rather have no puzzle that’s why we’ve
taken the view that joining the single currency which would imply having a
single interest rate across the whole of the European zone an interest rate which
might be appropriate for some parts of that economical certainly wouldn’t be
appropriate for other part that the very damaging how does it manifest itself in
taxation matters we believe in keeping taxation as low as possible one of the
reasons we fell out of power in 1997 I think is that the country believed that
we had failed to stick to that belief that we increase taxes in a way in which
we shouldn’t of them and I think we had allowed public spending to get a bit out
of control and we had tax people too high we’ve got to make sure that we keep
taxation well that’s one of our core beliefs who does the Prime Minister
believe would make a better Mayor of London Ken Livingstone or Mickey Gavin I
of course always support the Labour candidate after the 1997 election the
conservative has found themselves in a position they were not used to being in
the opposition in British politics voters watch the opposition carefully so
the Tories performance in opposition will certainly determine how soon they
can regain the party strength and Great Britain they enjoyed in the 20th century
well what’s happened since we lost the general
1997 is that we’ve had the refreshing opportunity to address the issues that
we’re going to see in the future when you’re in government you don’t actually
have clean to do a lot of forward thinking and so there is a benefit to
opposition although I much prefer being in government the benefit jobs issue is
you can actually create between and the research to
solutions two generations problems how we deliver
conservative it’s always a difficult problem for any
opposition if you produce some decent policies long enough in advance for the
for the public to begin to take them in to appreciate though a 30 for any
government worth its salt a pinch them and if you fail to do that then the
government will point at you and say well at least with this government
you’ve got you’ve got some policies so we are gradually be guiltin beginning to
put together a series of policies now based around the idea of giving people a
fair deal because people I think in this country into feel that they’ve not had a
fair deal they haven’t had a fair deal in relation to the health service
because they haven’t seen that improve yet they have seen their taxes go up
they’ve seen borrowing a lot in order to pay for these things that aren’t getting
any better so that there is no delivery as we keep as we keep say so we’re
concentrating on bringing our forces together around the idea of giving
people a fair deal British party system is often dubbed the two and a half party
system where does that have come from Democratic Party combination of the old
British Liberal Party and the Social Democrat democratic party where do they
fit in now well they’ve been gaining slowly but surely support in the last
couple of elections they need to differentiate themselves from the
conservatives and labour we talked to if you remember
Democratic Party to see where they see their party going on the twenty percent
I joined the party around nineteen ninety which is before a general
election that we had in 1992 and i joined really because at that time we
had a government headed up by Margaret Thatcher who will be known to many
margaret thatcher as prime minister lost her job and then they other conservative
Prime Minister took over but really we had a government that had run into the
sands and like the American system people can stay on in the British system
as long as they get elected and the Conservative government have been in
power then for 11 years and went on to be in power for 18 years so I decided to
join a political party really as a reaction against that feeling it was
time for them to go and I read the Liberal Democrat manifesto and that was
the party almost agreed with I had no family relationship with any party I
knocked in a member of any party of neither of my parents so I picked up the
manifestos read through them and thought this is the one I agree with and they
were opposing the Conservatives in my home district so it all fits together
and if somebody didn’t know very much about the Liberal Democratic Party how
would you introduce them to it and characterize the party yeah i mean i was
i speak sawdust of american students when they come over here to study and we
always have to try and explain what the liberal democrat part is about and i
started by saying it’s not like any of the American parties but in imbalance I
think it is quite similar to what one would call with a small L a liberal
Democrat in the United States so it’s it’s a left of center and liberal in the
sense that it holds all the socially liberal values so issues like human
rights like gay rights like rights and so on the Liberal Democrats
are actually quite firmly on that agenda as well as being in terms of the market
and so on being in favor of free market policies so on an economic side they’re
in favor of free market policies but they’re socially very liberal as well
and that’s really the combination that makes up the Liberal Democrats in the UK
is quite different from the Conservatives who tend to be socially
conservative but also believe in the free market and labor who tended to be
socially liberal that didn’t believe in the free market the labor tradition is
believing one of believing in sort of state central control that’s moved on
now but historically the great divide if you like only amongst the social
liberals was between those who join the Liberal Democrats who believe in the
free market and those in the Labour Party who believed in a very centralized
state system yes that the parties not only been in existence for 11 12 years
previous to that there was the Liberal Party and the Social Democrat Party and
they came together and that made the new part of the lib don’t get party we are
the third party but the third major part in our they used to be two major parties
and then all sorts of other little bits and pieces but since the last election
1997 with 46 MPs and then another one since then we’ve actually been a much
stronger force in Parliament and now there are clearly three parties in
Britain in so left-right terms that this doesn’t work very conveniently the
Conservatives always going to be on the right the Labour Party is sort of on the
left that some of them would doubt that now and we tend to be the radicals that
don’t fit so neatly into that definition because on some issues we would be
thought to be libertarian as our liberal tradition would say but on social issues
into a large extent we’re probably in favor of more direct intervention by the
state for example we’re in favor of higher income tax on the very well off
in order to pay for better services for the less well-off now the live part is
well they got away from that so we don’t tidally fit in we’re not just there in
the center between the other two parties we have a more radical approach
the issues of the day I think the Liberal Democrats are increasingly in a
strong in in a strong position although they got eighteen percent of the vote of
the last general election I’ve only got 50 MPs at of 659 they seemed a much more
cohesive unit certainly than they used to be and the leader of the concern of
the Liberal Democrats in fact claims that they are the really viable
alternative to labour that they are the real opposition and they tend in fact
now on many issues to be quite radically far from labor they wish to say
electoral reform they wish to see more constitutional reform they would like to
see reform of the tax system in order to redirect taxes into specific targets
education being one of them and certainly that I think would you know
help the Liberal Democrats considerably I still think they lack some sense of
identity in that they often I think it portrayed it somewhere in the middle
between the conservatives and labour but quite frankly if you look at the
responses of Liberal Democrats supporters too often a range of radical
issues Liberal Democrats are often if we can use the temporary loosely further to
the left of them then in fact the Labour Party is and certainly they are taking
as strongest stance because they after 79 they did get cloak quite close to the
Labour Party and rumors were circulating that had the 79 election I’m sorry I
should be saying the 97 election and I’ve seen 97 election and they had that
been much closer the Liberal Democrats would have been prepared to go into some
kind of coalition even an informal one with labor but of course that never
arose as labour won by such a you know such a large margin but I still think
you know that they do lack a sense of direction they are certainly very
strongly pro-european which of course sets them well apart from the
Conservatives who are split very much that issue and they certainly also do
wish to see more constitutional reform they wish to see more devolution of
power not just to Scotland and Wales but also to the english regions something
which again the conservatives are very much opposed to labour are not so
opposed to that idea but I think it will be certainly quite a few years yet
before we move into that position I mean let labour has changed so in some senses
it is quite similar to the Liberal Democrats and people sort of said what’s
the point in having the two parties at a certain point you are similar where I
think we reduce or diverge quite strongly is in the debate between
central and local government where if the UK has a very centralized system
anyway in terms of the central government controlling lots of
expenditure not allowing local government to decide how much tax it
wants to raise and how much he wants to spend and so on the little Democrats
very firmly believe in much more local control and stronger local government
the Labour government that’s been in power since 1997 has continued to
centralize it’s really taken powers to itself in a lot of areas and we want to
push the the powers further out so our points of dispute really around central
local issues even where we’ve made a change like the introduction Scottish
Parliament that says sort of decentralizing issue where the
government of 7 Scotland can have a parliament rather like a state
government that they can get on with things but the labour central government
didn’t give them or doesn’t want them to raise their own taxes and change their
own expenditure we again have argued for example that they should have even more
power in Scotland so they can change their tax rates and raise more money
locally the Liberal Democrats have a strategy of building their party up from
the bottom they concentrate on becoming more and more popular at the grassroots
level in the small towns and villages throughout Great Britain with the idea
that this will allow them to compete and win more seats in parliament principal
themes that we’ve been putting forward out firstly that we want to invest more
enough celeste health and education which are
largely supplied centrally and funded centrally so we raised a large
proportion of income tax at a national level in order to fund our education
health services and we said in the last two elections that we were prepared to
raise income tax higher in order to fund better health and education the Labor
Party argue that they could deliver better health and education without
raising taxes got elected and what they actually did was raise taxes after being
elected but we were very upfront in the election and our main appeal was to
people who want to better health and education services and appreciated what
they saw as our honesty so we were saying read my lips we will have new
taxes we were very upfront said we will bring in new taxes without an education
that was our number one selling point and probably the second selling point is
is building on this local reputation so we’re much much stronger in local
government than we are in central government we’ve built up at the local
area level so that we have lots of councillors and lots of people on local
political buddies and we’ve built on that and where we’ve got strong local
representation we then say okay will you now trust us at the national level and
we’ve been gradually building up election by election by winning local
council seats and then going forward into the general election and carrying
some of that support with us I’ve seen that broad terms were internationalist
so we have always been pro-europe pro the UN we see the UK’s future is
actually being fully engaged in these international bodies and have tended to
contrast ourselves at the other end of the spectrum with the Conservatives who
tend to be very nationalist as opposed to internationalist and labour actually
who have got people who go in both directions Labour’s very split they’ve
got some people who are really quite vehement Leanne to Europe and some
people are quite strongly pro Europe and the lib dems we’ve got some people and
to Europe but generally speaking we’ve been at the forefront of trying to push
the European Union forward we see that as our strategic future I mean one of
the most fascinating things is that very people who’ve been stressed strongly in
favor of the Atlantic Alliance the special relationship by Winston
Churchill also recognized that we had to play a leading role in Europe
and you don’t have to sign up to the euro to avoid the dollar or sign up to
the dollar to avoid the year but clearly in the international world today you do
need to have partnerships and trading relationships in order to survive and
we’re not a very big country anymore I’ve been changing terms economic terms
or just in physical terms what you’re looking for all the time I think it’s s
reason to justify your existence as politicians that if the government was
perfect there’d be no point in having any other opposition politicians at all
so there will always be things to criticize but what we’ve also tried to
do to change the style of politics and that’s one of our kind of slogans but
it’s actually resonates with people that historically the British system was that
if the government said black the opposition said white the government say
up the opposition say down and and we don’t agree with that we think you
should be able to say look we like this bill of the government of bringing in
for example to to create some new powers for local government we like it but we’d
like it to go further and here are our specific criticisms about where it
doesn’t go far enough and we think we can go out and oppose on that basis
rather than just saying we don’t like the bill we’re gonna vote against it are
you it’s more sophisticated also trying to put maybe change the culture of this
you know the games that are played simply to attack and score points rather
than actually accomplish anything yeah we know certain own personal basis i
hate the point scoring type of politics but also as a party we tend to lose out
in that in that drink for example on the media in the UK when they’re looking for
a story the government have have said do x and the media ring a ring around say
you’re going to stand up as the opposition spokesperson saying that’s
outrageous we shouldn’t be doing that we should be doing why and they won’t take
necessarily spokesperson who’s saying well you know some of its good some of
this bad let me explain why it doesn’t fit into a sound bite so we tend to lose
out because of that point scoring type of politics so we actually what sort of
party interest in trying to have a debate that isn’t just about somebody
standing up and saying black and the other
standing up and saying white we need a more sophisticated debate to get a
look-in but also say very much instinctively that’s not my style
anywhere I can’t stand that I mean it’s intellectually completely incoherent to
people to stand up and say everything the government does is bad and to want
the government to fail which is the other kind of side of it we end up in a
political situation where you’re almost going out as a representative the
British people to say are the British government to fail they’ve really
screwed up the economy’s letting everything is terrible you know I don’t
have be in a position where I’m sort of wanting the government to fail that’s
not very helpful for the country and our concern has been to provide constructive
opposition this is not the tradition in Britain the tradition in Britain is that
the opposition opposes everything and indeed that’s what the Conservatives
have done over the last four years even things that they themselves promoted
when they were in government they’ve had a nasty attack of political amnesia and
then suddenly decided they’re against it and strawberry situations resolved but
we’re concerned to look at all the issues on on their merits and where we
think that we can support the government we’ve supported them where we feel we
can’t support them we’ve opposed them and that constructive opposition that
pragmatic approach to the issues of the day is rather new for British politics
we would like a stronger multi-party system and we advocate a different
system of election that portion on representation system which would create
a more multi-party system and we have we now have that in Scotland and Wales and
indeed in Northern Ireland they all use proportional representation and have a
much more balanced multi-party system in the longer term that’s what we’d like
for the UK national parliament but in the shorter term we recognize that the
only way to get there is to have a bigger voice in this much more polarized
bipartisan system a first-past-the-post and we need to gain more power and that
power probably is it expensive the Conservatives we’d like to use that
power to bring in a proportional system that actually would mean that you could
have a stronger multi-party system for the foreseeable future very similar to
the way which we now have that entrenched in in Scotland Wales and
Northern Ireland do it and I have no idea that’s what I’m asking to him do
disaffected labor rights from the left ever drop out and join the Liberal
Democratic Party we do and we had some we took quite a strong position as a
party over the war with Iraq and the liver Democrat position was to oppose
that that was something we all felt comfortable with we felt that the
strategically going to war under those circumstances was a mistake and the
party coalesced around there a lot of people in the labor party in particular
were very disillusioned with their government because they came from a
similar philosophical position where they didn’t feel war was the answer to
the particular problem we were confronted with and every time something
like that happened or the government now proposals to reform the National Health
Service always very sensitive with labour supporters each time that happens
people do drop away from the Labour Party and quite a number of those do
come and join the Liberal Democrats we try and be quite careful to say look
we’re not a party socialist party in any sense we’re free market party but if
people share our concerns and they share our concerns about the international
situation as long as they realize what they’re signing up to then to come and
join us we think is quite a sensible a future for them
it ain’t a party of reason or compassion but with an emphasis on those people
whose voices assignment and it’s generally a party of people who want to
seek to see a rational fair society on the principles that not far away from
the Christian faith they’re very made many views of the part of it my
membership at the Labour Party came in my mother’s milk it wasn’t anything that
I had to think about it newly stage I did as a young adult become convinced
that I’m ultimately white party and i was born in the Labour Party you know
darling the Labour Party and I are very proud of its great achievements in the
1980s and 1990s the Labour Party was seen as unelectable in Great Britain way
too far on the left it was seen as even socialist by many British vote
far too radical in terms of foreign policies and issues such as nuclear
disarmament however in mid 1990s Tony Blair brought
the Labor Party back to the middle of British politics the Conservatives even
accused labour of co-opting many of their own policies in essence Tony Blair
made labour electable again so labor swept to sounding victory in nineteen
ninety seven under Tony Blair and again to a second term victory in 2001 again
under Prime Minister Blair but we’re now does the Labour Party go to
we talked to members of the Labour Party to see where they see their own party
going into the 21st century I would hope the Labour Party and the Liberal
government’s always talk about an inclusive society and giving people a
real opportunity to get on a little Spade and giving them the opportunity
through education through health and the rest of it and not necessarily about
whether can afford it or not I’m I got enough money to do what I want to do I
think we’re still a long way to go directly to a fairer society car but I
think they’re on the right track some will argue that the kind of politics
that’s now being pursued by New Labour hardly differs at all from the
Conservatives Blair is used phrases such as business government on your side not
in your way and emphasizes very much that the role of government the role of
the state should be conducted alongside business interests also many of the
policies which were introduced by the Conservatives in the 1980s 1990s have
not been reversed and this includes the widespread privatization of public
utilities including gas electricity rail telecommunications all those still
remain in the private sector after being sold off by the Thatcher and major
governments many of the social policies which were introduced by the
Conservatives also have not been changed although in recent years the government
have promised to increase expenditure on things like health and education but
many of the philosophies of enterprise culture are still very evidence and one
of the difficulties that the Labour Party now has is that there is really
very little effective opposition from the Conservatives that have suffered too
heavy defeats in 1997 and 2001 and Sony traditional
members of the Labour Party those who have associated the party with a broader
socialist agenda find it very disappointing to see some of the policy
initiatives that are now I’ve been developed by Blair but certainly he
argues that what the Labour Party have done is to essentially rethink its
direction to come into a much more 21st century environment and that the kind of
intellectual baggage which they brought with them from the ruler foundation at
the start of this century and their expansion after the First World War it’s
just centuries essentially not relevant to today’s debate and therefore the
Blair governments have been much happier to make accommodations with the private
sector for the delivery of public services and you can see this for
example in the health service in education where great much greater
emphasis is now placed upon the rights of consumers of these services although
principally they have remained under state control other areas most certainly
haven’t and also there’s been a great deal of debate over the role of the
private sector in delivering at least part of public services the change the
labor bond is that we’ve become unelectable we drift into the far left
and our image was at the poor we had a leader of the party that had
like a scarecrow he was talking always in terms of what
in the past and he was I mean what did you say was quite sound in many ways but
he was appealing to a tiny audience that the party started to talk to its ultra
not to the outside world and we were doomed to fall from influence of power
in this terrible sight of decline and thank goodness Tony Blair and you later
cable in the even you seen a new image to the party that was widely popular
especially among conservatives and he managed to demoralize our opponents and
greatly encouraged it Labour Party members nose although we’ve had two of
the biggest victories that ever occurred in British history two successive
elections so there is a feeling of a royalty in gratitude of the bed but the
problem is that we probably lost our soul in the process we moved from a
party that was reforming the falls of radical into a party the team to be
doing compromises with every interest group that’s available to ensure we we
had this slow drip of popularity and praised the ventilation for the Daily
Press and that’s fine that will probably keep you in time which nowhere to change
the rule for the better and there’s been afraid Dave
there there has been what we could call stealth socialism really Labour Party
were on a great deal to move well on the richest to the forest and be successful
in doing then but we’re all that ashamed to tell people about it having stealth
socialism in case we tell people about him the tabloid newspapers mighty
Roberta and might get angry and condemn is but things have happened includes the
record last government present government but I believe that we don’t
have that bigger and then certainty and then tell confidence that we did in
autumn my mind is the best come when we had in Britain which was a 4551 Labour
government the Ted of the health service and managed to reorganize the public
services in a way that was fair and efficient and we’re ready for a very
long way away from those any radical performing and self-confident day
after 18 years of not being in power and then the victory in 97 it seems to be
the people now but there’s a great support for the Labour Party what what
sort of the difference between we could say old labour and now the new level I
think that’s a false argument that what’s happened is that the Labour Party
in government has decided that it won’t be a party representing simply the
underclass that exclusively the poor it will be a party that represents a people
aspiring to a better life that people are vicious for themselves it will be a
party that represents a social institution of the family rather than
the class institution of the trade unionist to say it’s both a pro trade
union family and a pro party this become much more party that gathers in people
rather than the party that believes it has an ideology which if it would
support the ballot box that then we’ll put
I impose in the country it’s also a party that I think learns in pals very
much struggling the way policies have been changed approaches have been
changed it’s very flexible approach to government rather than strongly
ideological one I think that maybe one of the reasons for its success there’s
something in the Labour Party or labour government for nearly everybody in the
country it’s quite difficult today to discuss the logo party certainly there
have been some considerable changes in its structure and its ideology and also
in its leadership the Labour Party up until really the early 1990s had gone
through a very very difficult period in trying to respond to the electoral
successes of the Conservative Party margaret thatcher as prime minister won
the election of all became prime minister and then in 1979 won elections
in 1983 in 1987 and much to the great disappointment of the Labour Party the
Conservatives now led by John Major also one in 1992 what happened although a
little before that but certainly after 1992 was a great rethinking of the
ideological direction Tony Blair eventually came to leave the party after
the death of the then leader John Smith in 1994 and we started to see a very
different image we started to say a party that wish to emphasize that he
wasn’t essentially socialist it was very much more social democratic they even
changed the name and started to emphasize very much that they were
called New Labour they dropped various symbols that the party had always been
associated with for example the red flag now became a red rose and it was
interesting that the red rose also had no thorns on it um so again a big image
change I’ve got to admit I’m what they call all the way back
I’m to the left of Tony Blair but there’s no seven in an old labour party
that’s not electable and if this is probably the most electable labour party
that you will never have it is one that can stay in power and it is going to
stay about the 240th terms at least as far as we can see that’s something
that’s never happened before to labor I’m very pleased with a lot of things
that I think the big mistake as far as I’m concerned is that they agreed to
stick to the Tory policies on expenditure taxation and I think more
money was needed i don’t think they really knew her scope or what was needed
in the schools in the hospitals and it was necessary to put up tax and it cost
because of the election promises he couldn’t do that and still promising not
to put up the tanks but i think i think that was probably was staying I’ve been
said that I’ve done an awful lot of good things are improving I think to be
honest even labour supporters would admit the change hasn’t been as great as
they hoped for or expected just to take an example a major example it was
thought that the new govern the New Labour government would want to invest a
great deal more of the public’s funds into our health service which is very
important to Britain into our education a service schools and universities into
paying better rates of basic pension and him into the police now on all scorers
the new government actually decided to keep the same spending pattern as its
conservative predecessors and the result has been there’s been no great change in
in in those particular services in the first three years of the new government
so much i leave Labour MPs we’re talking about not just 18 years of conservative
rule but 20 or 21 years because the conservative role continued after the
Conservatives left office comforts crazy middle England ie those
photos don’t usually they labor but excuse intimated labor they wrap them up
in words that I give them comfort the effect of what they’re doing in in
essence is to become more and more socialist we are no becoming a tax
raising and spending economy we are tying businesses up in red tape we’re
making it more default hire and fire workers we are making moving towards the
European model which is the sclerotic social model of Germany yeah I think
there’s been a fair amount of criticism prime minister in 97 I’m still from
areas like this that he has targeted middle England by middle England we
talked about the reason I love to do it but in fairness you can have the most
radical liberal government devil or radical party I should said well you’re
not getting power you have to target the people across the spectrum and that’s
why they got not the title you’ll over to some extent it’s it’s a social
democratic party assembly guy these are my personal our Moodle it’s a social
democratic party where the public service giving people an opportunity
especially osters it’s critically important to the girls
it is society but I don’t see any other what it always was just a word at the
direction of the Labour Party is in a very different direction to that which
was in the 1980s and 1990s in the 1980s the Labour Party had a very definite
left during agenda in fact the party manifesto the party platform if you like
in 1983 was described by one labour politician as the longest suicide note
in history and made labour virtually unelectable that’s when we see by the
late eighties the modernization process begin but also some would say of the
Blair governments that they have abandoned the traditional principles of
the Labour Party others feel that’s a harsh reaction and so the Tony Blair
likes to emphasize concepts such as a stakeholder society the government
emphasizes very much their campaign against social exclusion the government
also claims that they should take a community communitarian approach whereby
everyone in society should benefit from the policies pursued by government
unfortunately too many critics of Labor government that sounds very much like
the language of the Conservative Party in the 80s and the 90s I think there are
two factors in 1997 that produced that big labor landslide the first that
people were absolutely second tire laboratory including many Tory voters
actually stayed at home and didn’t vote and second thing was that the
determination bread of the last five years under the Tories of the Labour
Party to try and get back into government to try and alter the sort of
approach that the government was taking the Conservatives in power meant that
there was a discipline and determination that we didn’t have I think in previous
elections and there was also a readiness to rethink certain policies that have
stood for a long time and what that produced I think was the second major
factor which was that people felt for the first time for a long time that
neighbor was a party that to sikeston they felt they could trust and when
prepared to give it a go and that’s why in very large numbers we had people in
previously wrote a tutorial Liberal Democrat backing labour which help
reduce the landslide in 1997 cool build on the progress we’ve made
give everyone the chance to make the most of themselves deliver better lies
for those hard-working families united in our values proud in our record
optimistic about the future with the courage of our convictions we can
deliver the third term and therefore deliver the lasting change I tell you
conference it is worth the fight now let’s get out and do it it is impossible of course to talk about
the modern labour party without discussing the man who brought it back
from the dead Tony Blair Blair is disliked by many and admired by many but
his political skills and leadership qualities are respected by friends and
enemies at first he was called Bill Clinton without the scandals for his
campaigning prowess and ability to co-opt ideas from other parties but he
is now surpassed Clinton not only by his staying power in office but by his
transformation of the Labour Party Blair called his policies the third way
emphasizing the modern efficient global and less socialistic state that he
argued Britain must become here he was a man with a a family background and
experience and set of values which put him very strongly in the center grounded
British politics until epicenter ground and so he personified if you like the
name of parties fresh appeal to what sometimes it’s called middle England but
it’s you know very much about voters and people in London the southeast perhaps
people who reasonably well-off that hadn’t regarded the Labour Party as a
natural Humphrey in the recent years and so a plus you know he’s a he’s a strong
leader automatic and so he carried very much
with the supporting party carried a lot of that sense of fresh appeal he’s at
his legacy even though I would have thought will be recognized by those who
disapproved of his policies even from within the Labour Party in that
certainly labour were transformed I mean labour were in a very difficult position
in the late 1990s there was a modernization of the party and I think
blares real contribution some obviously would feel it’s a negative contribution
and then that’s his real contribution was to set about to as he sought to
modernize the party mean that was the term which began to be used by the mid
nineteen nineteen ninety s also he brought about one or two changes which
also been very significant the relationships with the trade unions in
Britain has changed quite dramatically later the Labour Party was very much the
invention the creation if you like of the trade unions at the start of the
19th century Blair following on from the previous leader to John Smith has
changed that relationship the trade unions now play are much less important
role even though they still make a substantial financial contribution and
so some of the trade unions I’ve become very irritated with new labour of
threaten to withdraw their financial help so he certainly as distant saliva
party from trade unions also the organization of the Labour Party is now
considerably slicker more efficient some would say far too concerned with image
but um he has brought the Labour Party from what should have what was you know
the a very very weakly electoral position to
produce two election results which were quite remarkable it’s the first time
really in the history of the Labour Party that they’ve been able to put
themselves in apart really from 1945 to put themselves into a position where
they can control and direct the economy and you know we reorganize Social
Welfare and whatever but some would say it as a cost whether or not he goes down
as a great Prime Minister I still still think might be damaged by the decision
to go to war because evidently there’s quite a lot of dissension within the
life of party and a feeling that well perhaps not that they were deceived but
certainly the information upon which the decision was based for many Labour MPs
was quite frankly now seem to be flawed how much damage that will do to him in
the long term I’m not really certain but certainly in terms of his legacy to the
Labour Party I think you’re really seen as the person no like it or not turn the
local party around quite significantly and also put it into a position in
electoral position that quite frankly it’s never had before others would say
but yet at what ideological cost and certainly critics of the Blair
administration that layer style I’ve described the new labour party’s
policies as basically recycled Thatcherism and so these critics would
say that you know Tony Blair was actually created by Margaret Thatcher’s
policies in the 1980s and John Major’s in the 1990s I think there’s probably a
harsh criticism for one that’s understandable particularly from those
traditional labor socialists the problem they may be sure the moment is the
global issues have seen a world run on the reasonable fair basis not one that’s
dominated by any power even the United States and the we’d like to see asked
you pair the we like to see Africa residue from the misery that it’s in at
the moment and I think our feelings for the rest of the century is that it
should be based on democratic principles where those work in the third world
countries and that we employ in a domination by commercial interests by
the greed of those who seek to make profits of other people and we have a
globalized world that’s based on the founding principles of the League of
Nations in the United Nations the moment I think we’ve traveled somewhere away
from that I think we’ve got to maintain this jewel
approach on the one hand economic dynamism job creation flexibility
embracing the new economy changing getting people into work cutting the
barriers to job creation because if everybody is in working a tax base and
you also have a social power of people in work that allows you to do for a
progressive performance point of view progressive reformist types of things
and then to maintain the idea that we’re all citizens of one society this is one
nation in magic kingdom everybody is a citizen of it everybody’s certain rights
everybody should have a share of our rising prosperity the best way of
delivering that in the modern world through very good public services and I
hope to see an investment of public services much tougher management of the
police of the health services of our schools because we take a huge amount of
money off people taxation it’s a bit like a water company when we spend it
about thirty percent leaks and not all of that some money or that buys the 46
where the people will what would you say are the challenges
for the Labour Party and up until the next election to make ourselves a
literally popular same and not to do to be compromised it with what our
traditional principles on which is to have a world that’s fair rational
and the difficulty years is to compete against popular opinion which appeals
the lowest common denominator of public opinion their homophobia their racism
their anti-foreigner attitude and to make sure that we stick with what have
been the Labour Party values of socialism and fair play that have been
tamed as as a movement and a party of the last hundred years we’ve tried to give you some insight
into the basic functionings of the British political system with the added
benefit appearing from members of parliament themselves about what MPs do
and how Parliament works I hope that this approach not only helps you
understand democracy in the United Kingdom but also parliamentary systems
in general as they make up the majority of democratic systems in the world you

  1. I lost interest after about 2 seconds when he got the name of the country wrong.  There is no such country as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland".
    The country is called "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".  "England", "Scotland" and "Wales" do not feature in the country name.  In a typical American style, he is confusing 'Great Britain' with 'England'.

    Great Britain is a geographical term, not a political one.  Most of Scotland, Wales and England is part of Great Britain.

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