NB, this was written before the last British General Election in 2015 when the liberals where wiped out. They were wiped out because having spent a term in power, middle Britain discovered what Liberals stand for and they didn’t like it, The SNP are now in charge of Scotland.
Well this is ambitious. I am going to try, in under 1500 words to simplify and explain some politics. WAIT! This is for you, a human, not someone who operates in political circles, they will hate this. This is a brief explanation of the key tenets of western politics for those who until arriving here just lumped politicians into the ‘bastard’ basket and vote as you always have which was the party your parents voted for or one of the other ones to spite them instead.
This is for the people who have heard the names of the parties and haven’t the first clue what they actually, or more importantly should, stand for. I don’t know why I do this but, I’d like to think some people like the way I try to break things down into bite sized chunks for the person in the street rather than those who have loads of time to learn complicated things in detail. So what is going on in Westminster? Well we have the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Labour Party. There is also UKIP which should be re-named the Nigel Farage party as it seems to be only him, on his own. If he has other members they keep a very low profile, which is a shame.
There are other parties but they are so insignificant I cannot even be bothered to mention them. The Conservatives and the Labour Party are the dividing line in Britain. The Liberals are only in the picture because people in Scotland vote for them when they aren’t voting SNP. You can see from the Electoral map who voted what where. But what do the parties actually stand for? Firstly look at the Strongholds. This tells you everything you need to know about what I am going to explain next. Scotland is Liberal as is Mid Wales and Cornwall. No-one really knows why Celtish people like Liberals so much, maybe because they were a warrior people who hated authority? The highest red bit is the Scottish lowlands and borders where the factories used to be and where ex workers live. These people are now mostly employed by the state if they are lucky enough to have jobs at all.
The next red bit is Tyneside, another industrial and therefore ‘worker’ heartland. The red bit in the middle of the map is the conurbation of the industrial cities in the North West from Liverpool across the old coal mining communities to Yorkshire, the Humber and the East Midlands where they used to make cars. Same red for South Wales where the mining used to be done. South Wales red does not include Pembrokeshire. Pembrokeshire is where the rich people in Wales live. The red bits are the homes of what used to be ‘the workers’. They blame the Conservative Government and Mrs Thatcher in particular for ruining their livelihoods.
In London you have the wealthy blue bits in the expensive parts of London, surrounded by the red bits of the less smart parts of London. Surrounded again by more blue bits for those who can afford to live in the suburbs. The entire rest of the country is blue, blue for Conservative Conservatism is about the Establishment, history and legacy if you like. The people who created and administered the British Empire where conservative types. They are closely aligned with Monarchy, the army and the Church. Institutions of established power.
The term ‘The Establishment’ could have been coined for the Conservative style of Government. Conservatism is about hierarchy and order, experience and continuity. In America Conservatives are called Republicans. Conservatives are also on the right of the political spectrum. The old right and left-wing thing is something students of politics like to talk about and call themselves but in reality it means little to the rest of us. Conservatism is seen as the politics of the aspirational. The issue some have is that this aspiration is seen as a desire to be part of ‘the Establishment’.
Liberals are basically the opposite of Conservatives which is why it so incredible they are in a Coalition in the UK and hence they cannot agree on anything. Basically Liberals do not like to be told anything by an authority. They believe that institutions do not have a legitimate claim to be obeyed just because they were historically in charge. They believe everyone should be able to do anything they like. They are big fans and supporters of Human Rights and equality. Liberals are very much more about ‘power to the people’ than the Socialists who are commonly credited with such a cry. If you wished to rename the Liberals. The Equality party would be as good a name as any.
The Labour Party is historically the party of the workers. Born of the Socialist movement. Have a quick look at how many of the leading lights of the Labour movement belonged to Socialist groups or even mixed with the Communists at University. Socialism has a basic tenet that production is a function of all members of society and therefore the rewards should be due to everyone. The only way this can be administrated is by the state being in control. The Labour Party is the party of big Government. State control and distribution. Government of the people, by the people, for the people is a quote that seems appropriate to explain it and this was something American Democratic President Abraham Lincoln said.
The Democrats in the USA are the American version of the Labour Party in England. So the Labour Party is very much the party of the working class as is the Democratic party in America, apparently. Remember the Americans see themselves as ‘the regular guy’ with a classless structure. This is why historically the Democrats have mostly been in charge in the USA and the Conservatives have mostly been in charge in the UK which is seen as a society with a class structure who generally favoured order, hierarchy and a proud Empirical history. (The BBC though are busy teaching how the Empire was a very bad thing indeed despite the important and valuable legacy left across the globe.)
You can see how the Liberals and the Socialists would have appealed to many University students who wished to show their independent thinking flying in the face of their parents who they of course saw as part of ‘The Establishment’ So, what you have are three primary political ideals with wildly differing ideas on how society should be run. The sad fact though, is that the political students who go on to become the politicians start out with their great ideas born of the ideals they held dear at University.
Not all politicians come via the university route of course, some (few) were business people, many are Lawyers. Most though, of the movers and shakers, the policy advisors, including the invisible people behind every MP and party committee are political students now employed by their party of choice. They join the party that espouses the theory they like best and claims to stand for the principles they hold so dear. Regardless of their ‘politics’ though. They all aspire to hold some sort of political office. Maybe to get to be a Minister, which makes them part of ‘The Establishment’.
What also goes wrong is that the voters never really see, once their elected party sweeps the opposition from power and take the keys to the country, who really runs the country. The Civil Servants. The ‘Sir Humphreys’ who guard their empires of the corridors of power and those who actually administrate Government policy. Like football referee’s, traffic wardens, and tax inspectors, I have never met, or spoken to anyone who has ever met one outside work. They operate in a separate hemisphere. They are not about to be told how to operate by some MP on a temporary tenure. So the new MP’s revert to making the most of their time in office to feather a nest for themselves and get on television a few times saying something worthy on a topic over which they have little influence or understanding.
If you think I am being trite. Have a quick look at the relevant qualifications of any of the senior ministers to handle their respective portfolio’s. So in order to get and keep a nice desk in a smart office in Westminster, the MP, despite his long-held political preferences will end up saying what they hope you want to hear, rather than what they actually believe. They know full well that the success of anything they wish to try to do to make your life better is dependent on the co-operation of someone nobody voted for. If they wish to destroy something the previous party put into place to help the people you despise, the same principle applies.
I’m not saying ideology is pointless. Just that you won’t get to see it in action properly. If you want to be a proper Conservative, Liberal or Socialist, you won’t find them here anymore. The most extraordinary thing is the two most opposite are in a coalition Government together. Arguing over everything because they fundamentally disagree at the very core of their beliefs. Each selling a little or a lot of their souls to keep a warm seat in Parliament which seems to be more important than a principle. Still it could be worse. We could live in a Totalitarian society where the unelected and unaccountable set the rules over which we have no say and enforce them upon us against our will…… hang on….
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