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"Individual Party Members Have Little Or No Power Within The Main Uk Political Parties.” Assess The Accuracy Of This View

1097 words - 5 pages

"Individual party members have little or no power within the main UK political parties.” Assess the accuracy of this view (25 marks).
The amount of power lying with individual party members varies between the two main UK political parties whilst the distribution alters when concerning different matters, for example voting for a leader and having an input in policy making. The Conservative party members have complete power when electing their leaders (aside from the fact they cannot elect the two candidates) whilst all branches of the Labour party are able to vote for their leader. When it comes to policy making in the Conservative party it is the leader who makes policy, in the sense that ...view middle of the document...

This was seen in 2003 when 25 letters were written by Conservative MPs to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee and therefore signifying a lack of confidence in leader Iain Duncan Smith who had to stand down as a result. A relatively small percentage of MPs were responsible for this happening although many members of the party could have been equally content with Smith. On the other hand, Labour’s election procedures differs to the Conservatives as the trade unions, PLP and CLP all vote in an electoral college with a third of the vote each giving each branch of the party a say in voting. This gives ordinary members a vote in who becomes leader in addition to those who are part of a trade unions although this can give other parties power to vote as not all trade unionists are supporters of the Labour party. However, some people are eligible for two votes giving them extra power when electing a leader.
In the Conservative party, the leader is the formal policy maker although they only have the final say on the manifesto and not the contents itself as it would require more time and expertise for the leader to do so. The party conference is only an advisory body and existing policies are not argued. Conference instead acts as a rally for the party faithful whilst building up the morale for the party in the year ahead and so individual party members have no power at all. However, it could be argued conference is becoming more assertive, for example in 1993 council tax was introduced, replacing Community Charge which had briefly replaced the system of rates. This decision had been influenced at Conservative conference. However, the opposite can be said of the Labour party’s annual conference, their official sovereign policy-making body. For many years, conference was dominated by unions who had 90% and each union casted block votes whilst minority opinions remained ignored. However, it is only one of the influences of policy and the Labour leaders have often ignored conference, for example, between 1964 and 1970, Labour conference rejected Labour government policies ten times. In recent years, the Labour conference is becoming...

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