Sorting politicians into boxes
A quick depressing run through of UK political parties. Only covering the "major" (currently existing) national1 parties that have managed to get at least one MP elected.
Centre right to right wing party that is the majority partner of the current ruling coalition. Mainly composed of posh millionaire Oxbridge (means they went to Oxford or Cambridge university) men making policies to ensure bugger all happens that might risk their or their mates wealth being used to help the poor. Backed by seriously loaded expatriate folks that could not give a flying f*** about the UK provided their operations in it can continue virtually taxlessly. Politically the party overlaps the same area as the US democrats thou confusingly their associated colour is blue and their members often tend to identify with the far more rightward US republicans. As a pretty good rule of thumb average decent people under the age of 60 do not admit to voting for a Tory MP, although the statistics show quite clearly that they actually do.
In the 80s the party was in power and led by a truly world class horror called Margaret Thatcher2 who deregulated the banks; destroyed the UK manufacturing sector; put back peace in Northern Ireland by about a decade; supported Apartheid, Khmer Rouge and other various affronts to humanity; privatized almost every sector essential for modern life and even took milk from school kids (just Google those parts you can't believe). She done more to screw up the UK than any person in my lifetime by a country mile. Amazingly her supporters still regard her reign as a success as under her the rich did get richer. Personally I believe this is somewhat cancelled by her doubling the rate of childhood poverty and increasing pensioner poverty rates by over 50% but hey that is only an opinion.
These days the Torys are led by someone best visualized by imagining the incarnate result of the unlikely coupling between a rich Dickensian villain and Futurama's 80s yuppie guy. His cabinet have some of the most truly humorously incompetent people you are ever likely to see in positions of great power. Truth be told despite initial appearances to the contrary there are some quite competent Tory politicians around. In isolation they can come up with quite reasonable policies. However you do not hear about them due to the more newsworthy despicable acts of the senior command.
This party was a left to centre party that historically was behind many of the great aspects of the UK not least the National Health Service (NHS) and welfare state. In more recent times the party has inexorably slid down to the right3. The most right leaning leader of labour in history was Tony Blair (in power 1997-2007) who was to all intents and purposes Thatcher reincarnate under the Labour guise. To be fair when he first gained power he started well helping foster peace in Northern Ireland and even honouring some socialist manifesto commitments. Then he got bored of being nice and went to the darkside and then some. Specifically he went on to introduce fees for university education, lie to the country to justify a vast expensive American oil war, start an all-out attack on civil liberties, further deregulate the banks, waste lots of money in various ridiculous ways, engage in pseudo science nonsense4 and just generally disappoint everyone. Then when things looked like turning bad he sodded off leaving an impossible job to his (daftly happy to accept) successor. To give you an idea of how bad he really was, and still is, a few years ago a TV show considered the idea of arresting him as a war criminal (it wasn't a comedy).
Judging current Labour by actions it now lays politically at roughly the same place as the Conservatives thou their fighting rhetoric is misaligned and remains more to the left. These days Labour is led by a cowardly millionaire Oxbridge guy and his cabinet members are all but indistinguishable from the Torys in background, voting actions and incompetence.
Despite all this the polls say they are almost certain to be main players in the next government. This forecast winning lead is paralysing them from even saying anything that might resemble political action. So despite them being the official opposition to the worst collective set of MPs to be in government in living memory they only sit silently shaking their heads whilst the best achievements of their fore-bearers are dismantled. They are laughably given their current timid stance associated with the colour red.
A centrist party that historically no one ever voted for. Their biggest worry until recently was whether their badge colour was actually yellowy orange or a badly printed orangey yellow. They spoke a great game and in the last election people finally started to believe them. As a result of this and the fact that no one party dominated the election they actually got to decide whom to go into government with, effectively letting them decide the holder of the reins of power. Labour was marginally politically closer to them and had similar policies on many issues but they mysteriously choose the Torys.
In order to make this alliance work they had to abandon pretty much everything they supposedly stood for. They justified this sell out by saying they are acting as a moderator on the nasty Tory ideas. Unfortunately this moderation is undetectable even by modern science and their main effect has been to enable via their obedient voting virtually every anti liberal Tory policy one could have imagined. The one bone their Tory overlords did offer them was electoral reform. However when it came to the actual vote the Tory MPs revealed that they had learnt a trick from the LibDems and went back on everything they had promised beforehand. Currently Labour is copying policies from the LibDem manifesto and letting its MPs laugh their heads off as the Torys order them to vote against their own core principles.
As a result of their sell out for power, them now overlapping the vastly more successful Tory party, their abandonment of actual liberalism and their systematic lying you probably need to drink an awful lot of Meths to think they will be more than a minor player at the next election. They are led (until the next election) by a rich Oxbridge millionaire man. Are you noticing a pattern yet?
A left-wing environmental party much smaller than the three previously mentioned parties with only one MP to date. Alas the Greens are crippled by the common left-wing inability to evaluate the worth of an idea by its inherent substance as opposed to whom is proposing the idea. Hence sheer nonsense often promoted by dim but well-intentioned folk (homeopathy jumping to mind) is at very least given serious consideration over many months whilst reasonable practical solutions promoted by aggressive multi nationals (for example nuclear power) are instantly dismissed as evil. Hence the party often ends up levered into awkward anti-environmental positions such as their support for Germany's replacement of nuclear power by coal.
Like many environmentalists the party is far too woolly headed when it comes to its assessment of what aspects of their comfortable existence people will give up for some greater good. I would actually go so far as to suggest that they have a deeply ingrained mistake in their understanding of how humans make decisions. Assuming humans are inherently nice and logical is a really rather massive weakness.
In any case being such a small party and so dominated by middle-class members means the Greens' great advantage is that they tend to politely adapt over time. As such they are slowly starting to improve even on traditional weaknesses such as their science policy. Of course traditionally having flexible updating viewpoints is viewed as politically weak but then again traditionally Greens don't get votes so disrespecting this stupid tradition might be something they want to work more on.
A left-wing anti-war party that formed primarily as a reaction to Tony Blair's war mongering in Iraq and his (and others) shifting of the Labour party to the right. Most of the stated ideals of this party are entirely reasonable and its aggressive anti-war stance is pretty much impossible to condemn. However its record on some issues such as women and gay rights is extremely poor and simply not in keeping what so ever with their stated ideals. Many have claimed this discrepancy is to attract Muslim voters which is somewhat supported by the selection of the issues on which the party tends to make the most noise.
However by far and away the easiest and most reasonable criticism of this party is that they are not worth voting for as they don't bother to actually do their job. The one MP they managed to get elected is the ridiculously confrontational George Galloway who has a simply appalling record of actually turning up to work. This is an extract from the Wikipedia page on his attendance in parliament:
"Of the eleven MPs below him in the [attendance] rankings, one was the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, five were Sinn Féin members who have an abstentionist policy toward taking their seats, three were the speaker and deputy speakers and therefore ineligible to vote, and two had died."
Of course whilst Galloway does not actually bother doing real politics he will happily do almost anything for attention including going on TV dressed at a cat or shouting at anyone who'll listen ridiculous sound bites5. The Respect party is basically a beautiful example of how if your world view is based on the notion that the enemy of your enemy is your friend you will end up inconsistent and a supporter of some pretty awful things.
Solely as they are ALWAYS on the news I'll mention this silly little party:
Tiny right-wing nationalist party with no MPs. Jingoism, Xenophobia, schoolyard simplification of politics and the promotion of the defunct British Empire are their main policies. Given their simplified cartoon style rhetoric, glorification of a made up historical ideal of the "native" people and demonization of foreign minorities there is a rather obvious angry moustached historical leader6 who if English and alive today would support or even head UKIP. Perhaps on the basis of this (thinking they will have valuable archive footage if UKIP does go on to start their own world war) the BBC absolutely loves showcasing this party. This in itself is quite a BBC achievement as UKIP cannot do debates as they blame foreigners for everything and merely use dead-parrot reasoning when confronted with evidence that foreigners haven't actually caused whatever issue is currently being discussed.
If you count the air time national parties get by votes or MPs UKIP are the clear winners. By absolutely any other reasonable metric you can think up they are losers. O and on my somewhat vested interest of science policy even by politician's standards they are absolutely stunningly ignorant.
And solely as they are never in the news enough I will end with:
A single issue party with no MPs that exists solely to attempt to highlight the current Tory-LibDem attacks on the NHS as Labour seemingly cannot be bothered. If there is any hope for the NHS and UK politics as a whole it comes from people and parties like this. By which I mean those who have entered the politics game to raise important issues rather than to get expense accounts, claim power or hurl abuse at minorities.
The BBC rarely gives any coverage to this party or indeed anyone who dares mention the current on-going attacks on the NHS. As it is generally the same people who attack the NHS who attack the BBC it is hard to see their black out as anything but a failled attempt to appease bullys and avoid criticism.
- Notes -
- Some regional parties are quite large and really should be included. However with the exception of Northern Ireland I simply don't know enough about them to properly rubbish them. Plus it's long enough already.
- Who went and died in the gap from when I wrote this to when I corrected the typos and published it. The description of her hate filled rule has been toned down by an appriopate amount.
- Most memorably when Blair took control in 1997. He started out with a forecasted easy electoral success created by his predecessor John Smith but moved the whole party to the right anyway to align with him because ... well you know, he's Tony Blair.
- To see various politicians flirtations with pseudo science bollocks I recommend this book. Be warned thou it is thoroughly depressing.
- At the current moment he is praising the "cohesive, pristine, innocent culture" of North Korea and damning the US for aggressive moves. Given the not exactly US-loving list of Russia, China and even Fidel Castro amongst others who have recently damned North Korea it's hard not to see his praise as a desperate plea for attention. Basically the political version of screaming "LOOK AT ME".
- Come on don't be daft you can figure this one out on your own.