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bri unit 4 Politics,Class and Race


Unit 4 Parties and Elections

I. Parties and the Two-party System
1. Major parties A. There are two major parties in Britain today- the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. B. There are other parties, such as the Liberal Democratic Party and the Communist Party.

2. Reasons for the two-party system A. The two party system of Britain was formed in the course of the development of the capitalist state and the political parties to strengthen the state machine. B. The more parties there are, the less likely it is that any one of them will be strong enough in Parliament to outvote all the others; but when there are only two, one of them is bound to have a majority of seats. This helps to ensure a strong and stable government.

3. History of the two-party system A. The division into two parties grew out of the establishment of a Protestant Church of England in the 16th century. B. The Puritans became alienated from the Anglican Church with political differences. They became Loyalists and Roundheads.

C. “Tories” is a term of abuse for the dispossessed Irish outlaws who plundered and killed English sellers, but it gradually began to stand for loyalists whose political instrument was the king and whose strength was drawn from the conservative land-owning class. D. “Whig” is a term of abuse for Scottish Puritanical rebels. They laid emphasis on the rights of Parliament and the dangers of a re-establishment of Roman Catholicism with monarchical despotism.

E. After the accession of George III in 1760, the real power of Britain was gradually shifted into the hands of the majority party in Parliament. So the Tories and Whigs were alternately in power for a long time. F. Tory split and its name was changed to Conservative in 1833 and the Whigs became Liberals in 1860s.

G. The Liberals and the Conservatives were alternatively in office until 1922. They were controlled by the rich, so the working class needed their own party. H. Labour Party was formed by the trade unions, the Independent Labour Party and the Fabian Society in 1900. After 1922 the Labour Party gradually replaced the Liberal Party to be one of the two major parties in Britain. I. Now the two parties are regularly in power by turns.

II. The Features of the Parties
1. The Conservative Party
A. The Conservative Party is the party of the Right because the conservatives are opposed to great changes in society and have a belief in private enterprise and freedom from state control. B. They enable monopoly capitalists and big land-owners to gain great profits.

C. The Conservative is the party of the relatively rich and privileged. D. Its leader has the last word in deciding policy. E. The Conservative conference is an occasion to see and hear the party’s leaders and express opinions for the leaders. F. prime ministers: Neville Chamberlain, Winston Spencer Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, John Major

2. The Labour Party

A. The Labour Party is the party of the reformist, non-revolutionary Left because it believes in the pursuit of greater social and economic equality, aims at the nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange and is the party of the relatively poor and underprivileged.

B. In the past it pointed out the miseries if the workers and formed trade unions in answer to their sufferings. Now it has become a bourgeois party marked by “socialism” and “nationalization”. Genuine working-class fundamental interest may have difficulty in finding an echo in its policy. C. It has few resources and relies heavily on the trade unions for financial help. D. The Labour prime minister: Ramsay MacDonald, Tony Blair

3. The Social Democratic Party

A. A new party was founded by leaders from the Labour Party on Mar.26,1981. B. It advocates reform of the election system and exercises a proportional delegate system and gives the central power to the lower levels. C. It will carry out the policy of mixed economy. D. It opposes isolationism in foreign policy.

4. The Liberal Party
A. The Liberal Party was a term first adopted officially by the Whigs in 1868. B. The party led by Gladstone executed a programme of political, social and educational reform. C. It was replaced by the Labour party, but occupies a mid-way position between Left and Right. D. Now the Liberal Democratic Party has replaced the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party has become the third political force.

5. The Communist Party A. The Communist Party was built up by some Marxist groups on July 21, 1920. B. It maintains the acute and necessary reform of the state machine and advocates “Left Government” with the Communist Party in it, and the withdrawal of Britain from NATO. C. The Morning Star is its official paper.

III. Elections
1. Features
A. A general election normally takes place every five years, which is largely dominated by the two major parties. B. The whole of the UK is divided into 651 electoral districts, called constituencies. C. To win the election, each party has a local association, whose first task is to choose the candidate and help him or her to conduct his or her local campaign. D. A suitable person is appointed in every constituency as a Returning Officer, who must not be connected with any party.

2. Range of the right to vote A. Every man and woman aged 18 or over B. Exceptions are certified lunatics, criminals and peers who already have seats in the House of Lords. C. Forbidden classes: government employees, holders of offices of profit under the Crown, all clergymen of the Church of England, ministers of the Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic priests.

3. Disadvantages of two party system A. Exclusion of the majority of workers as candidates B. Discouragement of individual opinions and initiative C. The other parties have little chance to win and form the new cabinet.

The End


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