Backgrounder: Major British political parties in May 6 election

16:36, May 05, 2010      

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The party system has been an important part of British politics since the 18th century. The following is an introduction to the three major political parties participating in Britain's May 6 general election.

Labour Party

The Labour Party is the ruling party, and its current leader is Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Established in 1900 and formerly known as the Labour Representation Committee, the party changed to its current name in 1906. It was the ruling party from 1945-1951, 1964-1970 and 1974-1979.

With its "New Labour, New Britain" slogan, the party won the 1997 election, and was reelected in May 2001 and May 2005. In recent years, the party has been favoring middle-class issues and has somewhat alienated itself from the trade unions.

Under the new slogan of "New Labour, New Britain," the old objective to establish public ownership was removed from the party charter.

Its domestic agenda now includes less government intervention in the economy, strict control of public expenditure and maintaining macroeconomic stability.

Externally, it advocates active participation in international cooperation and regards maintaining good relations with the EU and the United States as the two pillars of British foreign policy.

It advocates that Britain should join the eurozone only when conditions are ripe, and that the country should delay a referendum on a EU constitution treaty.

The Labour Party was the largest political party in Britain in 2001 with nearly 400,000 members. However, many quit the party after the Labour government led by Tony Blair helped the United States launch the Iraq war in 2003. As of 2004, party membership dropped to about 250,000.


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(Editor:张茜)

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