In case you’ve been out of the politics loop, the United Kingdom is ready to hit the polls on the 7th of May. It’s hard for us in New Zealand, sometimes, to know exactly what the main three stand for. The main three being the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats.
But this election is different. No one really knows who’s going to win, but we do know there’s a chance it won’t be Labour or the Conservatives deciding it. It will come down to minor parties, if Labour’s Miliband and the Conservative’s Cameron want to avoid the terror of governing as a minority.
Suppose for a moment you’re in the United Kingdom with the ability to vote in the May 7 election.
Which party sounds the most appealing to you?
Name: Conservative and Unionist Party
Leader: David Cameron (Prime Minister)
New Zealand comparisons? The Conservatives, an economically liberal party, have most in common with our National Party.
It’s been a tough old road for the Conservatives (colloquially known as The Tories) ever since forming government in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats in Britain’s first coalition government since the Second World War. They’ve made some massively unpopular decisions including funding cuts and new taxes which have been accused of hindering those less fortunate. But now things are starting to look more positive. They’ve got promising economic statistics to bring to the British people including some of the strongest growth in Europe with unemployment starting to come down and crime statistics also falling.
At this election the Conservatives have pledged to cut a whopping £12,000,000,000 out of public spending to clear the deficit before the 2020 general election. The cuts won’t come out of healthcare, as the Conservatives have promised to increase spending on the NHS. Nor will they come out of childcare, with the Conservatives pledging to extend hours on free childcare. Other policies include capping welfare payments, abolishing taxes on the minimum wage, a in-out referendum on Europe and more which is best explained in this 1:30 video from the UK paper The Telegraph:
Name: The Labour Party
Leader: Ed Miliband (Opposition leader)
New Zealand comparisons? These days, British Labour has most in common with our New Zealand Labour Party. However this is a recent development, as from 1997-2010 British Labour adopted what was known as a ‘New Labour’ platform which saw the party abandon much of its social democratic policies.
It only took Labour a matter of months of being in opposition before it rebounded in the polls and in front of the Conservatives, so it’s been a fairly smooth run for Ed Miliband who assumed the leadership in 2010, despite a less than favourable and infamously brutal British press. The party, which Ed Miliband has tried to rebuild as a truly social democratic one, is concerned with the rising level of inequality in the United Kingdom with a record number of British people lining the streets to receive food parcels. To combat this, Labour has put together a classically leftist ‘tax and spend’ plan which would see the introduction of mansion tax and a tax on tobacco companies to help add billions to the NHS. Boris Johnson, for this reason, has described the current Labour Party as radical. But the policies have struck a cord with people, and Labour could be in government as soon as this week.
Here’s The Telegraph’s 1:30 explanation again for The Labour Party:
Name: The Liberal Democrats
Leader: Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister)
New Zealand comparison? The Liberal Democrats tend to have most in common with our United Future Party.
“Strong Economy, fairer society”. “Look left, look right, then cross”. The Liberal Democrats are a classically centrist party, adopting policies from both the Centre-left and Centre-right. They’ve been in government with the Conservatives since 2010, and as a result have fallen from around 25% support from the public in 2010 to about 9% now. Not a good time to be a Lib Dem. They’re promising to add an extra £8,000,000,000 in funding to the NHS, cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour by doing a bit of both, keep Britain in the EU, and create more apprenticeships.
See what you think of their manifesto here:
Name: UK Independence Party
Leader: Nigel Farage (MEP)
New Zealand comparison? UKIP is best described in a New Zealand context as the unpleasant lovechild of ACT and New Zealand First.
It’s the rise of this new force radical right party that has sent shivers down the spines of Labourites and Tories alike. It’s appeal originates in part from its hard-line anti-immigration and anti-EU policies, and also from its popular MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Nigel Farage. It bet both Labour and the Tories in the 2013 EU elections in England and Wales, claiming more than four million votes. It’s policies include exiting the European Union, cutting immigration numbers and applying policies similar to that of the Australian Coalition government. Elsewhere, it has pledged to slash spending on foreign aid and pour that money into services like Defence.
Name: Scottish National Party
Leader: Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister of Scotland)
New Zealand comparisons? Oddly enough there are no Scottish nationalist parties in New Zealand. The only candidates in the New Zealand in election to claim support for Scottish Independence came from the Mana Movement. But the Scottish National Party has far more in common with our Labour and New Zealand First parties.
The Scottish National Party will be the third largest party in parliament this election, denying Labour a majority and rattling up British politics as we know it. They’re there to cause a ruckus, and then leave, because their headline policy is independence for Scotland. On current polls, they’ll win about 54% of the vote in Scotland and almost all the seats on offer as Labour plummets. Their policies include free school meals, an end to austerity, a second referendum on independence, and an end to funding for large-scale weapons and Trident.
Name: Plaid Cymru – Party of Wales
Leader: Leanne Wood (Member of the Welsh parliament)
Position: Centre-left to Left-wing
New Zealand comparisons? Plaid Cymru is a Welsh nationalist party with strong social democrat policies. It has most common with our Labour Party, but also strong similarities with the Greens.
Unlike it’s fellow Celt party in the north, the Plaid Cymru party has failed to lift off in the polls, only slightly polling above its 2010 result. It’s essentially what the Scottish National Party is to Scotland; a Welsh nationalist party. The party would like to see a referendum, but for now its campaigning on increasing Welsh powers in London, an end to austerity and strong environmentalist polices.
Name: The Green Party of England and Wales
Leader: Natalie Bennett
Position: Centre-left to Left-wing
New Zealand comparisons? Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
The Greens are running an anti-austerity campaign and their policies include the renationalisation of the railways. They also want to see healthy and affordable homes built and paid for by an abundance of new taxes on wealth and capital. They advocate for a boost in funding to Britain’s public services, a move to renewable energy and taking every senior in Britain out of poverty.
Other Parties (the minors, the minnows, the unheard of, and the downright weird).
Democratic Unionist Party:
A small, Right-wing party running in Northern Ireland that holds a majority of the Northern Irish seats. It hopes to increase powers for Northern Ireland. It opposes independence from Britain and the republicanism offered from Sinn Fein. It’s self-described as socially conservative, British nationalist and British unionist.
A left-wing party running in Northern Ireland. It’s globally known as a republican movement. In London in promises to advocate for more funding for health, education and welfare.
Social Democratic and Labour Party:
Effectively the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, it’s slightly to the right of Sinn Fein.
The Alliance Party:
A small centrist party in Northern Ireland. It’s proposing to establish a ‘Green New Deal’ to boost investment in clean energy, more support for small business and regulating the flying of flags in Northern Ireland – including only flying the Union flag on designated days from civic buildings.
RESPECT Party (احترام پارٹی):
A very small, far-left party. RESPECT is an acronym standing for “Respect. Equality. Socialism. Peace. Environmentalism. Community.Trade Unionism”. That in itself gives you quite a clear idea of the party. It’s leader, George Galloway MP, says if his party is given the job of deciding the next government he’ll go with whoever is willing to recognise Palestine as a state.
British National Party:
A far-right, neo-fascist and white nationalist party with strongly anti-immigration and anti-Islam policies. Supports reintroduction of traditional grammar schools and decreasing reliance on welfare.
A Centre-right party running in Northern Ireland that once affiliated with the Conservative Party.
A seatless Right-wing party which believes Scotland and Wales are treated too favorably compared to an ‘oppressed’ English people.
Traditional Unionist Voice:
A Right-wing party in Northern Ireland with strong anti-European and conservative values.
Christian Party (UK):
A Right-wing party running in England, Scotland and Wales. As its name suggests, the Christian Party has adopted strongly conservative policies based around the Christian religion and is Eurosceptic.
Scottish Green Party:
A Left-wing party in Scotland, supportive of Scottish independence and a ‘clean, green’ future free of poverty.
Independent Community Health Concern:
A Centre-left party concerned primarily for the future of the NHS. It has also taken on policies around the ideology of Localism.
A party focused on class struggle with Anarchist policies.
Cannabis Is Safe Than Alcohol:
A party focused primarily on the legalisation of cannabis.
Official Monster Raving Loony Party:
The classic UK joke party. Have a read of their top 5 priories:
1. Health & Safety: We propose to ban Self Responsibilty on the grounds that it may be dangerous to your health.
2. M.P’s Expenses: We propose that instead of a second home allowance M.P’s will have a caravan which will be parked outside the Houses of Parliament. This will make it easier as flipping a caravan is easier than flipping homes
3. Eurofit: The European Constitution which will be sorted out by going for a long Walk. “As everyone knows that walking is good for the constitution”
4. The speaker in the House of Commons will be replaced by the latest audio equipment
5. To help the Israel/Palestinian Problem, we will get rid of the old road map, and replace it with a new sat nav instead.
A party running in Yorkshire seats only. Centrist, and a party of radical localism which calls for Yorkshire to make its own decisions in some areas.
A small left-wing party holding just 1 council seat (out of 21,871). Originated in 2013 hoping to completely replace the Labour Party. It outlines it’s central ideologies as “Socialism, Feminism, Environmentalism, Republicanism [Anti Monarchy], Internationalism, Anti-racism, Anti-capitalism, Anti-imperialism and Anti-corporate capitalism”.
Socialist Party of Great Britain:
A Far-left Marxist party. Their leader, in a BBC Television interview stated that his party stands for a “world without frontiers, where all the resources of the earth have become the property of all people”.
Communist Party of Britain:
A Marxist-Lenninist party internationally affiliated with such parties as the ruling party of North Korea. It promises to drastically increase taxes on the rich and ensure all assets are publicly owned to ensure complete equality.
Socialist Labour Party:
Left-wing party born out of dissatisfaction with the main Labour Party. It states it would run in classic, pre-Blair Labour style.
Workers Revolutionary Party:
A Far-left party, particularly Trotskyist.
Centre-left party in Cornwall in favour of Cornish independence and social democracy. Currently holds four seats on the the Cornwall council (out of 123).
Party focused on internet freedom, civil liberties, direct democracy and copyright reform.
Above and Beyond Party:
Single issue, ‘none of the above’ party.
Independence from Europe:
A party focused on the UK’s instant removal from the European Union.
Effectively a party for Independents focused on local issues.
A uber-right, white nationalist party. Unlike the BNP, it bans any non-white and non-British candidates. It was once the largest fascist party in the UK.
North East Party:
North East regionalist.
According to Wikipedia “The Peace Party seeks to promote a society that is compassionate and respectful, and that values cooperation over competition.”
A party seeking to revive the Whigs, one of the earliest political parties in the world that originated into the Liberal Party (now the Liberal Democrats).
Alliance for Green Socialism:
An eco-socialist party advocating strongly for human rights issues and fair trade policies.
Far-right populist party radically opposed to the European Union and Islam.
Based in England. Centre-left, anti-austerity. Totally against privatisation, tuition fees and tax avoidance. Supports renationalisation, progressive taxation, rent controls and socially-managed housing.
Justice and Anit-Corruption Party.
Justice for Men and Boys.
‘(and the women who love them)’ Anti-feminist party advocating for men and boy’s rights set up by retired businessman Mike Buchanan.
Lewisham People Before Profit
Anti-austerity, left-wing party in Lewisham.
National Liberal Party:
A third-way, centrist party and alternative to the Lib Dems.
Social Democratic Party:
Populist, Localist, Anti-Europe, social democracy. Apparent alternative to the Labour Party.
A party attempting to unite Centre-right and Centre-left policies under one manifesto.
Young People’s Party
According to its manifesto, it intends to replace many current taxes on the productive economy with a form of Land value tax; to replace the current social security system with a Citizens Income; to leave the EU but remain a member of EFTA; to reform the banks; and to re-introduce low-cost housing.
Beer, Baccy and Scratchings Party
British Democratic Party:
Right-wing populist, sovereignty party.
Free United Kingdom Party:
Joke party set up by comedian Al Murray to rival UKIP.