In spite of the ongoing struggle by the major political parties to find and occupy the centre ground in British politics, there are still some differences between them in terms of policy. Currently Labour is under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and is therefore heading back to ‘Old Labour’ ideals. This creates massive policy differences between Labour and the Conservatives. Firstly, one key difference between Conservatives and Labour is their attitudes towards private enterprise.
There is, for example, a more positive attitude on the part of the Tories towards private enterprise. They are in support of privatisation of businesses once owned by the government, this was very apparent with Thatcher. She supported privatising inefficient nationalised businesses such as British Airways, British Telecom, British Gas and BP. This she hoped would reduce the burden on the tax payer, make industries efficient and competitive and allow Britons to own parts of these companies through shares.
On the other hand, Corbyn wishes to bring the Labour party back to its socialist routes (so-called ‘Old Labour’) and renationalise private businesses, such as the railways. Corbyn has been described as a socialist, an idealology that believes main businesses and industries should be owned by the state. Is an idea based on the concept that the community should own the ‘main means of production’ (ie factories; steel) distribution (transport) exchange (banks). The welfare of the individual is secondary concern to that of the whole community.
This idea was based on the thought that pure capitalism simply caused unemployment, hardship and miserable working and living conditions. By teaming together, they hoped they could create a much fairer system. Secondly, the Conservative and Labour parties disagree on policies related to defence, in particular nuclear weapons. The Conservatives say replacing Trident in its current form is the best option. Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron has always maintained the UK needs to keep its nuclear weapons, calling it an “insurance policy” against attacks.
Replacing Trident was a Tory manifesto pledge in the general election. They claim it would be foolish to scrap Britain’s fleet of nuclear submarines while countries like Iran and North Korea seek to develop their own atomic weapons. Labour has been in favour of keeping nuclear weapons too, but new leader Jeremy Corbyn opposes nuclear weapons and the party’s policy is being reviewed. He says the issue will form part of their defence review, but has also said that even if there were a replacement system, he would never use them as PM.
The government is in favour of replacing Trident at a cost of around ?100 billion. Corbyn believes this money would be enough to fully fund A;E services for 40 years, employ 150,000 new nurses, build 1. 5 million affordable homes, build 30,000 new primary schools, or cover tuition fees for 4 million students. As a compromise Corbyn suggested the UK could have Trident submarines without nuclear weapons, a move that would mean disarmament while protecting defence jobs in Scotland and Cumbria.