POLITICAL PARTIES IN ENGLAND
PARTIDOS POLÍTICOS EN INGLATERRA
Like Spain, the UK has numerous political parties that cover almost every possible political variation – from facists and communists to environmental parties and the plain mad (The Raving Loony Party!). Before local or general elections new ‘political’ parties of all sorts tend to emerge including some interested in only one particular cause – perhaps the saving of a local hospital or other service.
However, in reality, there are only three main political parties in the UK – from whom a government has been traditionally drawn. These are:
- The Conservative Party (sometimes known as the Tory Party). This was founded in 1678 and is the oldest political party in the world. It is a ‘right wing’ party (and roughly similar to the Spanish PP party or the US Republican party). The Conservatives are ‘traditionalists’ and have governed Britain for around two thirds of the twentieth century. Famous Conservative Prime Ministers have included, Sir Robert Peel, Benjamin Disraeli, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. The last Conservative Prime Minister was John Major who served as Prime Minister until 1997.
- The Labour Party. This party was formed around 1900 with a close affiliation to the Trade Union movement. A ‘centre left’ party, it is similar to the PSOE party in Spain or the US Democtatic Party. Members of The Labour Party are known as socialists. The first Labour government was formed in 1924 under Ramsay Macdonald. Since then the Labour Party has been in government several times with some of their best known Prime Ministers being: Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson and, recently, Tony Blair. Currently, they are in charge of the British government under Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
- The Liberal Democratic Party (the ‘Lib Dems’). This party was formed in 1988 although its past can be traced to The Liberal Party (Whigs). The ‘Lib Dems’are currently led by Nick Clegg but since 1988 they have never had enough MPs (Members of Parliament) to form a government. They are considered further ‘left-wing’ than the Labour Party and are in support of the closer integration of Britain with Europe.
In reality, the differences between the main political parties appears to get less as the years pass. Both the Conservative Party and the Labour party struggle for supremacy over the centre ground of British politics and it can sometimes be difficult to know what major difference there is in their policies. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party (which used to hold the centre ground of British politics) has found itself pushed ever further to the left-wing.
Affiliation – Filiación
‘Centre left’ – Izquierda de centro
Dissimilar – Distinto
Environmental – Ambiental
General elections – Elecciones generales
Left-wing’ – Izquierdista
To emerge – Surgir
To form – Constituir
Outright – Indiscutible
´Right wing’ – Derecha
Saving – Ayudando
Tendency – Tendencia
Over the past thirty years there has been a tendency for either the Conservatives or Labour to gain power and then hold onto it for around 12-14 years – before losing an election and then being placed in opposition for a long time. This is not dissimilar to Spain (the PSOE government of Felipe Gonzales and the PP government of Aznar).
Within the next twelve months there will be a General Election in the UK. This may well be won by the Conservative Party, in which case it is likely that the Labour party may lose power for a long time to come. However, the present Labour government has a a very large majority – so it will not be easy for the Conservatives to gain an outright majority that will enable it to form a strong government..