Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party and began to steer it towards what many have dubbed OThatcherismO. Margaret Thatcher believed in radical change, individuality, and a strong Government that enforces the law, rather than interfering in the economy. She was also opposed to the welfare state. In many ways, her ideology was broadly similar to classical liberalism, and many theorists see her ideology as neo-liberalism.
Under her rule, the Conservatives were no longer truly conservative, as conservatives are usually opposed to too much individualism and liberty, and definitely do not want radical change. However, in terms of morality they remained staunchly conservative, believing strongly in the family and in law and order. It can be said then that the Conservative Party had become economically liberal but morally conservative. The Modern Conservative Party This Classical liberal ideology is still prevalent in todayOs Conservative Party.
Conservative Party Essay Example
Consecutive leaders after Thatcher have all stayed relatively true to her reforms of the party and its ideology, believing in economic classical liberalism. However, in recent times they have struggled to get their message across as supposedly they are liberals, and yet are often against homosexuality, drugs and immigration-ideas which are much more right wing and against the very principles of Liberalism. This has led to a decline in their support, as people do not know what ideology the Conservatives are trying to represent, as some of their ideas seem to conflict with each other.
In this way, it could be said that the Conservative Party do not reflect a specific ideology because they are often seen as a confusing amalgamation of several with no real, specific ideological status. It would be wrong to describe them as a conservative party, as they are in favour of change, but it would also be wrong to label them as a classical liberal party as they are essentially opposed to too much freedom of the individual. Recent Developments in the Conservative Party Under their new leader, David Cameron, the Conservatives seem to have moved more right wing.
Some of their main policies include creating more law and order, cracking down on immigration by bringing in Border police, and stopping people claiming too many welfare benefits if they are able to work. All of these policies are much less liberal and more conservative, showing that perhaps the Conservative Party are shifting to the right under David Cameron. However, it is still laden with neo-liberalist views, such as increasing choice and opportunities for the individual and cuts in Government spending.
Therefore, it cannot truly be said that the Conservative Party follow a conservative ideology, nor do they follow a liberal ideology. They are an interesting mixture of neo-liberal economic policies, combined with moral and social conservatism. This makes them hard to place on any political spectrum, and thus it cannot be said that they really reflect any specific ideology. OOldO Labour Prior to Tony BlairOs electoral success of 1997, the Labour Party were torn by ideological strife, with two main factions emerging.
On the one side were the socialists, who wanted to turn Labour into a fully-fledged socialist party, while others, the Social Democrats, who wanted to move the party into the centre ground. The main problem was that this ideological strife made the party seem weak and resulted in a lot of election failures. The Labour Party did not really have an ideological stance at this time, with some leaders favouring socialism, while others favouring a social democrat approach. The main problem was that this haphazard ideology and constant struggle for power made the party seem virtually unelectable to the populace.
Many argued that the Labour Party talked like socialists, but acted like social democrats, and after many of these unhappy social democrats left to form the SDP in 1981, it became clear that the Labour Party had to break away from socialism and carve out for themselves a strong ideological stance. New Labour Neil Kinnock began the transition from old to new Labour by destroying the power of the radical socialist elements of the party, although neither he nor his successor, John Smith, reaped the rewards of their modernisation of the party.
The next leader, Tony Blair, completed the transition. He decisively got rid of clause IV of the Labour pledges, which meant that Labour no longer had a commitment to nationalisation of industry-almost all elements of the old socialist Labour Party had now gone. It was left to Tony Blair to create the OThird WayO, which was the name of Tony Blair and his supporterOs new ideology for the party. On closer inspection, this OideologyO is not really one at all, as it has no specific view on human nature or society.
BlairOs main policies were a private/public mix for industry as well as believing that employment is a greater evil than inflation-opposing the traditional Labour PartyOs views. In fact, it can be said that Tony BlairOs third way is nothing more than a mixture between neo-liberalism and social democracy with a different label. Tony Blair has admitted to being a supporter of Margaret Thatcher, and so it could be argued that OThatcherismO is still prevalent in Government, even though it is the Labour Party that are in power!
However, the fact that the OThird WayO is not really an ideology, and also that Tony Blair refuses to admit what ideology he truly believes in, shows that contemporary parties are often reluctant to follow a specific ideology, perhaps because of the stigma attached to them, and also because of the many ideological changes that have occurred within the parties over the years. If Tony Blair was to admit, for example, that he is a Social Democrat, this would put him in the same category as OoldO Labour, thus ruining any claims of his party being a OnewO Labour.
Modern Labour Party Under the leadership of Gordon Brown, the Labour Party has abandoned its ONew LabourO title, fuelling the idea that it was merely a ploy to win votes by showing the party has being something different, when really it was very similar to Thatcherism. It also seems that Gordon Brown is much more of a social democrat than Tony Blair, which is shown by his cabinetOs reluctance to nationalise the troubled bank Northern Rock. Clearly, the Labour Party can be described as a social democratic or even neo-liberal party in contemporary politics.
This is, in fact, broadly similar to the Conservative partyOs neo-liberalism, although not so extreme. It could then, be argued that there is a new liberal consensus, with both of the major parties generally agreeing in terms of ideology. This could almost make speaking of the major parties in terms of ideology as negligible because they both broadly agree in most areas, with only differences in specific policies and image being the deciding factors at elections. Liberal Democrats In terms of ideology, the Liberal democrats have probably been the most consistent for most of the late-20th Century.
They have stayed new liberal, meaning that the merger between them and the Social Democrat Party was an easy transition. They have definitely stuck to their ideological principles much more so than the other two main parties, although this has not led to much electoral success. This is in contrast to the other two parties, who have been inconsistent and unclear on their ideology but have had much electoral success. This is mostly down to the flaws in the First-Past-The-Post system in its discrimination of third parties.
The Liberal Democrats are the only party whose ideology is relatively clear; in fact, it is quite obvious, seeing as it is the name of the party! Conversely, the Conservative Party are only really conservative in name, and the Labour Party are no longer socialist and no longer really represent the working class. The differences between all three parties are marginal, with the Conservatives focusing mostly on law and order, the LibDems focusing on the Environment and individual freedoms, and the Labour Party focusing on public/private mix in terms of industry.
Conclusion Overall then, neither of the two major political parties are particularly ideological. The Conservative Party still follow the neo-liberalism of Thatcher quite closely, although in terms of morals they are much more conservative, making them difficult to place on the political spectrum. Conversely, the Labour Party follow the OThird WayO, and explaining this in terms of ideology is also difficult. It is best described as social democracy, although many could argue that it is bordering on neo-liberalism.
The Liberal Democrats have been most consistent, following a new liberal ideology. However, neither of the two main parties completely reflectspecific ideologies, because most of their policies are a mixture of several different ones. Ideology is present in political parties, but it is usually discussed in terms of policy rather than specific ideologies. On the topic of “Political Ideology” (Heywood 2003, p. 5) states: ” ‘Ideology’ is consider a particular type of political thought, distinct from, say, political science or political philosophy. Ideology is a set of views and ideas that provides the theoretical basis to organize and rule community life, establish values, habits and perspectives. It demands the certain methods to be used for solving different social problems. As (MacKenzie, et al. 1994, p. 1) have noted, ideology ” provides both an account of existing social and political relations and blueprint of how these relation ought to be organized. Beyond this general definition, however, the concept of ideology is notoriously difficult to get to grips with.