In terms of politics, the European Union is one of the main topics; at the end of the day this is only fair as 75% of our law is made there. The Labour Party is happy for further European integration, so as the Liberal Democrats although Nick Clegg has called for a reduction in democratic deficit in the Union. This is because both parties are reasonably pro-free trade. However, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats don't seem to be aware of the political consequences in being part of a political union; the EU can control everything from hedge funds we own to what light bulbs we are allowed to use in our houses.
The Conservative Party and the UKIP are the main legitimate Euro-sceptic forces in Britain; both parties oppose further European integration however the degree varies – the Tories still wants to be part of the EU whilst the UKIP want an immediate withdrawal. On the other hand the far-right party BNP opposes any European projects as a whole. Clearly, in terms of Britain's membership in the European Union there are clear divisions between the parties and consensus is therefore hard to be found. Foreign policy between the main political forces varies as well.
Labour and the Conservatives share a similar position in that Britain has a responsibility to help out America in their military projects; such as Iraq and Afghanistan. However, other parties have very different views. The Liberal Democrats oppose using military as a means of interfering and intruding other countries, they believe it is morally incorrect and Nick Clegg has proudly opposed the War on Iraq and War of Afghanistan from day one. The UKIP who holds a rather libertarian perspective too opposes the War on Iraq and the War on Afghanistan too.
Parties on the left of the political spectrum such as the Greens and RESPECT both oppose military intervention. Immigration is perhaps the most sensitive political issue facing the country at present time. Although the Labour government has said they would and they are doing something about immigration results is hardly seen by the general public. There are clear divisions between the parties regarding immigration. The Conservative Party has promised to be tough on immigration however Cameron has been vague on what he will actually do.
UKIP on the other hand wants to take a non racist approach to dealing with the situation; the party pledges to follow an Australian or New Zealand based model of points-based immigration as well as a 5 year freeze on permanent immigration. BNP would like to deport immigrants and prevent asylum seekers from entering the country; there selection of immigrants would be based upon race and religion. It can also be argued that the nature of the political system itself divides the political parties and prevents consensus.
First of all, there is a lack in representation due to the FPTP electoral system, supporting the two-and-a-half party system. The results therefore usually bring to power a majority party who can pass laws as their leader pleases and a minority party who is in many cases powerless. This means the minority party in United Kingdom has no real role in governing as they are not involve in any sort of a coalitions, thus all they can do is protest and go against the party in power.
They will also want to distinguish themselves from the majority party in hope that they will be voted into power next time. This does not promote political consensus. Secondly, due to voters of minority parties feeling powerless and hopeless due to the electoral system they are in many cases forced to express their opinions through other means. Protest is one of the methods and the London G20 Submit Protests in 2009 is an example. It is clear that Labour and Conservatives have moved towards the centre ground in the political spectrum in the recent years.
The reason for this is simple – the parties have realised their past mistakes. Tony Blair realized from the failures of the 1980's that a party cannot be dominated by unionists. David Cameron learnt from the failures of the late 1990's and realised the only way the Tories is going to get into power is by appealing to everyone – especially the middle class. He said in the party conference speech that the Conservatives must not only be "the party for the rich".
In many ways, the voters have placed a substantial role in centralizing politics; they have proven to politicians that they are not attracted by the extreme left or the extreme right but rather moderate politics contributing to stability and progress. However, regardless of exaggerated media reports or opinions from fanatic extremists, the two main political forces in the country are not the same and when you put in the other political forces such as the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens, Respect and BNP, the differences and the lack in consensus between the parties simply cannot be clearer.
There are things which Cameron's Conservatives would not have done if they were in power instead of Labour; there are also things in which Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats would not have done if they were in power instead of Labour. Ahead of the election season, parties will try even harder to distinguish themselves from each others to unleash their self promoted uniqueness in attempt to capture and attract swing voters.