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The main political parties

On TV you mainly hear about the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. These are the main political parties in the UK. They get the biggest share of votes. But what are they about and what's different about each of them? Each party is supposed to have different ideas and beliefs in order to provide the voters with a real choice.

Party policies and beliefs

Policies are the ideas and proposals that a party has for a country. For instance, if there are low levels of healthy eating among young people, a party might have a policy for promoting healthy eating in schools. If a party thinks young people are unruly, it may have a policy for imposing curfews. So, what sort of policies and beliefs do the main parties have?

The Conservative Party

Conservative rosette
Who's in charge?

The Conservative Party thinks that individuals should own and control businesses and services and make profits from them; the government should not interfere with these things. If this creates a gap between rich and poor, then it's not down to the government to sort it out. It's all about survival of the fittest.

Money for one or money for all?

Tax should be low, so that you can keep as much of what you earn as possible. As businesses and services are privately owned, it's thought that people will have more money to spend on these things, instead of the government taking your money and choosing for you. In turn this will improve public services, because in order to get you to use them, they need to be good.

The community

Traditional values should be encouraged to help build strong communities and families. Strict discipline and respect will cut crime and criminals should be treated harshly.

The future

Traditions such as the monarchy and the House of Lords are a very important part of Britain's history. They should be left as they are and there should be very little involvement or interference from the European Union. The UK must stand strong.

The Labour Party

Labour rosette
Who's in charge?

The government should work with private companies to provide good public services. The government should be involved in helping to close the gap between rich and poor by providing opportunities for those in need. All public services such as schools and hospitals need to receive funding from the government in order to provide good-quality services that are available for everyone to use.

Money for one or money for all?

There need to be different levels of tax depending on how much you earn. The more you earn, the more you should pay – otherwise you end up with a group of very, very rich people and a group of very, very poor people. The tax is used to provide services for everybody, rich and poor.

The community

Communities need to be strong by promoting tolerance of and respect for all and by all. Everyone should enjoy their individual rights but they must also understand that they have responsibilities to those around them.

The future

Britain has a very important part to play in Europe and should be taking a leading role.

The Liberal Democrats

Liberals rosette
Who's in charge?

The Lib Dems, as they're called for short, are somewhere between the Labour and Conservative parties in their beliefs. They believe in personal freedom and a fair and open society where there is equality for everyone and strong communities. This can be achieved through free healthcare and education for all and by encouraging business to flourish but not interfering.

Money for one or money for all?

The poor and those in need should receive help from the government. This would probably mean an increase in income tax. The environment can only be saved by reducing pollution from cars. The party believes there should be a strong and effective transport system.

The community

The Lib Dems think it's more important to deal with the causes of crime not just the effects, otherwise it can never be reduced.

The future

The Lib Dems believe that Britain should have a role in Europe but that the people should be able to decide how large a part Britain plays.

Key Points

  • Political parties give people the chance to vote for particular policies.
  • In the UK we have three main parties. These are the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.
  • They have different ideas about how the government should be involved with people's lives.

Interesting Facts

  • Younger people are more likely to vote for Labour or the Lib Dems. Based on the beliefs of each party, who would you vote for?
  • The Labour Party was created in 1900.
  • The Conservative Party dates back to 1783.

Big Question

  • Some people think there's not that much difference between the parties, which means that there's not really any choice. What do you think?