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British General Election: Could The Labour Party Settle Brexit?

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B.A. Sciences poliitques, membre de®

Political parties rule the nation by forming governments; these organizations have a great deal of power in the Westminster parliamentary system. Until 1832, governments used to be formed by coalitions and people rather than by political parties. However, the decline of the Crown influence gave more power to party leaders. British politics has started to favoured a two party system. The Labour Party and Conservatives were two main parties contesting elections. In addition, the Labour Party was founded in 1900 outside Parliament. Every British socialist leader joined the Labour Representation Committee, now known as the Labour Party. The Labour Party became a powerful political force in British politics that united the progressive supporters. The Labour Party was modernized by Tony Blair that rejected state owned industry and by reducing trade union influence in the 1990s and early 2000s. Nowadays, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn turned back the party to the left wing of political spectrum. Corbyn is a strong advocate for more government nationalization and for a trade union friendly government. Jeremy Corbyn wants more investments in social programs. He strongly believes in social democracy and in greater government interventions. Under Corbyn`s leadership, the Labour Party is a progressive party that considers a second referendum is needed to settle Brexit. However, this might be very hard for Corbyn to get a mandate to govern because he is not a centrist politician who could unite many moderate voters to support his reforms. Jeremy Corbyn is seen as a radical politician by many voters; thus, this might not be an easy task to get a Labour government elected with Corbyn`s socialist ideals. The Labour Party could have campaigned on a centrist political platform in order to have better chances to a form a government. The Conservatives want to get Brexit done regardless of national unity. If Brexit gets done, Scotland and Northern Ireland could leave the union. As a result, a Labour government is needed in order to protect national unity by settling the never ending Brexit saga through a people`s vote. Besides, national unity could easily be safeguarded by cancelling Brexit which is not a line with national unity because Northern Ireland and Scotland does not support Brexit of any kind.

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                To begin with, the British Labour Party dates back to the late 19th century. The purpose of the party was to defend the interests of the urban working class. The Labour Party has started to get more support after the decline of the Liberal Party. The Liberals were deeply divided over several issues about the Great War. As a result, the Labour Party could get more members joining their political movement. Therefore, the collapses of the Liberal Party allowed the Labour Party to strengthen its roots and to become a real political power in British politics. The Labour Party ruled the nation under two minority governments in the 1920s. Nevertheless, the Labour movement had to wait until 1945 to get a majority government in order to reform the nation. Labour Leader Clement Attlee won a majority government with 393 out 640 seats in the House of Commons. The Attlee government nationalized the Bank of England along with many industries such as: coal mining, steel, electricity, gas, railways, canals, etc. Besides, the Labour government created the National Health Service that provides free universal healthcare to everyone. In the 1960s, the Wilson government made some progressive reforms such as: legalizing abortion and abolishing death penalty. Harold Wilson worked hard to develop British economy. Wilson implemented a strategy of technocratic reform, corporatist relations with the businesses along with a system of ¨indicative planning.¨ The Wilson government tried make sure the U.K. economy meets its potential economic growth. Therefore, the Labour Party believes that the government should get involved in the economy. In the 1980s, the Party suffered from internal turmoil because some supporters left to found the Social Democratic Party.

                On the other hand, the Labour Party modernized itself in the late 1990s under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Blair. The modern Labour Party was greatly influenced by the Tony Blair government which pushed the party to the center point of the political spectrum. In the 1990s, the Labour Party won a landslide victory by modernizing its political marketing with the Tony Blair`s New Labour approach. Blair got rid of the Party`s symbolic policy of the ¨common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.¨ Prime Minister Tony Blair modernized the party to better respond to the needs and hopes of the 21st Century United Kingdom. Under Blair`s leadership, the Labour Party became a more centrist political organization. The Blair government sat a national minimum wage in order to allow everyone to earn a decent living. Tony Blair managed well public spending by respecting some spending limits. Tony Blair implemented a policy of devolution in Scotland; he decentralized some power from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. Besides, Tony Blair`s legacy is shaped by his vision of a multicultural and a social liberal United Kingdom.

                Furthermore, Jeremy Corbyn introduced a very progressive political platform which is the 2019 ¨It`s Time For Real Change: Labour Manifesto.¨ This platform is very progressive and turns the party to the left side of political spectrum.  The Labour Party wants to ¨re-write the rules of the economy¨ with its 2019 political platform. Corbyn would like that Britain turns into a more friendly capitalist system. He thinks that government can bring great changes in the lives of people. The Labour leader describes the manifesto as: ¨the most radical and ambitious plan to transform the country in decades¨. The Labour Party intends to spend billions of pounds in social programs at the expense of the taxpayers. BNN Bloomberg reveals in November 2019 that the Labour Party pledges to spend an extra £86 billion (CDN $147.7 billion) in everyday government expenditures under a Labour government. An elected Labour government will spend £7.2 billion (CDN $12 billion) to provide free university to every British student. The Labour Party intends to increase healthcare budget by 4.3%. These new expenses in healthcare would cost £5.5 billion (CDN $9 billion). British people love the British medicare program, officially known as the National Healthcare Service, and they want that the program remain sustainable in the upcoming years.  Moreover, the Labour Party wants to fight poverty. The platform reveals that students will have paid internships, paid breaks at the work place, paid cancelled shifts, giving workers the right of flexible working, extend statutory maternity pay from 9 to 12 months, doubling paternity leave, more statutory holidays, developing collective income protection insurance schemes for the self-employed…  In addition, Jeremy Corbyn wishes to tax more the super-rich people; he wants that wealthy people pay more in order to better fund public services.  He is in favour of an increase the inheritance tax. Besides, he will tax holiday home owners. Therefore, the Labour Party has a plan to fund its promises through significant tax hikes. The Labour Party will increase government employee wages by 5% while expanding the size of the government back to the 1970s levels. In sum, the Labour Party will drastically invest in healthcare, education, social services, and in public sector wagers; nevertheless, these promises will be paid through extra taxation.

                In addition, if the Labour Party wins the upcoming national election, it will get a new deal with Brussels. Therefore, a Labour government would scrap Johnson`s deal and the process of Brexit will start everything all over again. The Labour Party believes that Johnson`s deal is bad for the British national unity, the economy, and workers. Even though, most Labour supporters want to remain in the European Union, the Labour Party has been officially neutral about Brexit during the 2019 national election. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to have a referendum on a new deal with Brussels and he wants there is in the second Brexit referendum the option to remain. As well, Jeremy Corbyn intends to remain neutral during the referendum campaign. The leader told supporters in Sheffield: ¨my role as the Labour prime minister would be to ensure that is carried out in a fair way ... and that I will carry out the result of that referendum.¨ Thus, Corbyn favours a neutral stance that could allow him, as head of government, to act as a mediator and problem solver between the Remainers and the Brexiteers. Jeremy Corbyn thinks that the British Prime Minister must remain neutral to implement a decisive solution to settle Brexit.

                Finally, Jeremy Corbyn wants to invest more in social programs and he wants to settle Brexit with a second referendum. Nevertheless, a Corbyn government would spend billions of pounds on social programs. Jeremy Corbyn is a proud socialist politician; he wants a better redistribution of wealth along with some radical reforms. Even though, Corbyn`s political plan is not a socialist one and is very popular among several voters, Corbyn is unlikely to form a government with such a tax and spend platform. Corbyn should have chosen a more moderate platform for the 2019 political campaign to get elected in order to settle Brexit. Therefore, Corbyn`s manifesto might not be appealing to broad number of voters outside the Labour movement. On the other hand, the Conservative Brexit plan could tear the country apart because Northern Ireland and Scotland does not support Brexit. For instance, Northern Ireland`s and Scotland`s unionists fear that Brexit could tear the country apart. For that reason, several people think that Brexit is damaging the union. The separatist SNP wants a second independence referendum in Scotland and several people think Northern Ireland could leave the United Kingdom because Brexit might not respect the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. As a result, Jeremy Corbyn could have campaigned on a more centrist platform to appeal to a greater number of moderate voters. Besides, the party could have campaigned more on the need to cancel Brexit which is not good for national unity. Opinion polls show that the Conservatives are likely to win the general election on December 12th, 2019.


December 1, 2019

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Yannick B. Vallée
par Yannick B. Vallee

Yannick B. Vallée est un politicologue, diplômé de l’Université Bishop's (Lennoxville, Québec, Canada), détenteur du baccalauréat en science politique. De plus, il a un diplôme d’études collégiales en Techniques administrative (option : marketing) de Champlain St. Lawrence College, au Québec. Il s’intéresse... (Lire la suite)

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