Political Parties of Great Britain
Britain has a two-party system. Each of the parties represented in the House of Commons maintains its own organization within Parliament in order to keep its members informed about parliamentary business and to maintain its parliamentary voting strength. Each of the main parties has a national organization. One of the main functions of the national organizations is to arrange the parties’ annual conferences. These serve as channels of communication between the leading members of the parties in Parliament and their supporters in the country. All the main parties also have some form of central office which serves as a national headquarters.
Until 1918 the Conservatives (Tories) — right-wing, and Liberals (formerly Whigs) took turns at holding power, then Conservatives and Labour (left-wing). The Labour Party, formed in 1900 in alliance with the Liberals, replaced them as the second major party after 1918. Labour’s success was made possible by divisions among the Liberals.
The Conservatives have always been the party of the Right, identified with the existing social order. The origins of the Conservative Party go back to the Tories of the late 17th century — the word “Conservative” first came into use in the 1 830s. The fundamental principles of the Conservative Party can be summarized as follows. First, individuals have an absolute right to liberty. Second, ownership is the strongest foundation of individual freedom, opportunity and independence. Third, Conservatives believe that freedom entails responsibilities — to family, neighbours, and to nation. Fourth, it is the role of Government to strengthen individual liberty. Fifth, in economic affairs the Government should establish a climate in which enterprise can flourish. Finally, Conservatives believe that Britain must remain strong, with secure defences, in order to provide the surest guarantee of peace.
The Labour Party’s internal structure is in most ways like the Conservatives’, but big differences arise from Labour’s attempts to give much more real power to trade unions and ordinary members.
The Liberal Democrats, formally known as the Social and Liberal Democrats, were formed in 1988 following the merger of the Liberal Party, established in the 1850s, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), established in 1981. The Liberal Democrats stand for the right of individuals to have control over their own lives. Individual liberty lies at the heart of their beliefs. They aim to enable men and women to develop their own talents to the full, free from the arbitrary interference of government. The role of government is to guarantee this freedom, free-market economy, to provide services for those in need and to work for peace and prosperity across the planet. Liberal Democrats are strongly associated with their policies for better education, environmental protection and constitutional reform to guarantee individual freedom.
About eight other parties are represented in Parliament; they are regionally based in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Both Scotland and Wales have for a long time had their nationalist parties (the Scotish National Party and the Welsh Nationalist Party — Plaid Cymru), with aims ranging up to the extreme of complete independence. Northen Ireland is within the UK and most of its people feel themselves to be British, though a minority do not. Their political parties are entirely different from the British, being based on the Protestant and Catholic communities. There are also a number of minor parties which are not represented in Parliament but which often put up candidates in parliamentary elections.
Task 1. Find the English equivalents for the words and word- combinations given below.
Поддерживать свою партию в парламенте, организовывать конференцию, существующий социальный строй, дать настоящую власть, выдвигать кандитатуру на выборах, ассоциироваться с чем-либо, поддеоживать численность изберателей.