The traditional stereotype of the two main political parties in Britain is that the Conservative is right-leaning whilst Labour is left leaning. However, in the last 10 years both parties have been shifting to the centre. Economical, social and political policies of the two main parties have seen itself to be overlapping. Political scientists believes this is a sign of an unhealthy democracy as there is an insufficiency in legitimate political choices for voters to choose from, resulting to the general public feeling they can no longer distinguish the likes of the Conservatives and Labour.
This phenomenon is said to be dangerous as it leads the general public to either being disillusioned with politics and desperate for change thus they turn to the extreme, or they simply give up their right or perhaps responsibility to vote with the belief that there is no point and that they cannot influence politics. Indeed, go back 20 years in time and stark contrasts can be seen between Thatcher's Conservative Party and the Labour Party back then.
Of cause, the main thing which drew the big, clear line between the two parties was Labour's Clause 4. It stated Labour would secure "workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry" as well as support the idea of "common ownership". The Labour Party then was dominated by trade unions and therefore it was declared as a socialist, leftist political party. On the other hand, the Conservatives were very pro-free trade, supported and treasured the idea of individualism and were extremely tough on Trade Unions.
In terms of economy, the Labour Party has traditionally supported the idea of taxation being based on the ability to pay whilst the Conservatives favours lower taxes. However, there is a significant shift in both party's ideological principles. Under Blair and Brown the Labour party has both shifted away from the left into the centre ground. Blair for example committed his party to privatisation during his two terms. Brown has also lowered taxes on multiple occasions for example the basic rate of income tax has been lowered in April 2008 whilst VAT is also temporarily lowered from 17.
5% to 15% in Christmas 2008. On the other hand Cameron's Conservatives has shifted it's ideology from "the lower the better" to one which is sufficient in sustaining a high quality public service. The Tories is going into the forthcoming election committed to raising taxes to 45p for those earning more than i?? 150000. The Liberal Democrats however favours even higher tax rates for the rich, Nick Clegg has called for an increase in property tax for all houses that are worth over i??
1m. The Green Party favours higher income tax for the top income tax bracket whilst the UKIP has committed itself to fighting for lower taxes and a scrap on inheritance tax altogether as the party do not believe the government should "tax the dead". As seen, although the Labour and Conservative's position on taxation has got closer, the other parties have vastly different views on the issue of tax. Government intervention is another important subject in terms of the economy.
Labour has been accused of being a "big government trying to pretend it has the answers to all the questions" by Cameron, however, ironically this had done them some good during the time of the credit crunch. In February 2007, Brown's government announced the nationalization of Northern Rock, guaranteeing people's savings in the bank. Ironically, the Tories who have made it clear from the start that they will not consider the idea of nationalization lost the support of voters. This is also an example of the traditional ideological split between the two parties.
In terms of the running of the society, Labour has been known as a party which prioritises looking into and fixing social problems behind poverty whilst the Tories are seen as those who blames poverty on the individual and his or her laziness. Both parties have changed their leanings however and their ideas somewhat overlaps. Labour and Conservatives are now both committed to looking at the social problems of poverty but also actively seeking to end the culture of over dependency on state welfare.
For example, Labour has set up a program whereby unemployed council tenants could lose their houses if they are not being pro-active in trying to be employed. Cameron has also promised to increase the incentive for people to work if the Tories get into power. One thing for sure is that no matter who wins the next election, spending on social services such as the welfare system will be cut. This is because the country is heavily in debt at the moment and the only way out is for slashes in government.
As seen, the policy of the two main parties overlaps thus consensus regarding the subject of social welfare and spending is present to an extent. Social Justice and law and order are perhaps one of the most relevant topics to voters. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens are perhaps most willing to study the causes of crime however most if not all parties have promised to be "tough on crime". In this area, there is a good consensus between the parties as they all recognize the need to cut down crime rates although their methods of achieving this might differ.