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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Grassroots - have they been abandoned?
Privatisation - Labour once opposed this Tory doctrine, now they have embraced it. Labour's minimum wage legislation was attacked by the Tories - now they say they will not change it, so parties can alter their minds on the most fundamental topics.
All the main parties have moved ideologically from their original core voters to bring in a wider range of supporters.
The Labour Party was born in 1900 to protect the rights of trade unions and give a political voice to the working class.
The Conservatives - the oldest political party in Europe - have a long commitment to private property and free enterprise.
The original Liberal party was set up to champion liberty and personal freedom.
How far have these parties come from their original roots and traditional values? Do you feel that they have sold out - altered their beliefs to gain power or are they only adjusting to changes in society?
This Talking Point is now closed. Your comments are posted below.
There's no such thing as 'grass roots policies' these days. Politicians will jump on any bandwagon to get the votes they need. Whoever gets into power, they are not going to keep everyone happy. Labour wants to help the 'poor' at the expense of the 'rich', and the Tories want to serve the 'rich' at the expense of the 'poor'. If we have a party that wants to help the majority, then we may see some unshakeable grass roots policies being formed. But that's not likely, is it?
Gary Jameson, Tetbury, UK
Our currency is our heritage, you cannot get more grass roots than that. Tony Blair is a gambler and will gamble our currency away, literally. All the other issues will pale into insignificance if his gamble fails.
To a large extent an opposition party is there to oppose. Nevertheless, Labour has probably moved most from their original grass roots principles. I'm sure it upsets many of their traditional supporters, but the country had enough of trade unions with the Winter of Discontent and the Miners' strike, so moving to the right was the only realistic way they could gain power. I'm sure it also doesn't help that Labour were hijacked by wealthy middle-class folk who viewed the party like an old derelict building, with potential for modernisation.
Only the Green Party covers the grass roots.
The politicians have completely lost
touch with reality. No longer do they want
to address the real issues that effect real people.
Instead they prefer to be seen as standing up
for everyone. Unfortunately, everyone includes
looking after the criminals too. Real people no
longer have much a a voice.
This country is censorship crazy.
Party's that change direction solely to increase the number of people who vote for them are not being true to their members. Change of direction must come from within the party not from the top, otherwise party leaders will be seen to be seeking power at the expense of principle. Politicians are notorious for using political parties as a vehicle for self promotion, basically some politicians choose whatever party gets them into power regardless of that party's political philosophies.
I am disappointed in the Labour party's shift from the values that they once stood for. As a socialist I am now left with a difficult choice - whom do I vote for? A move from the traditional philosophies of the Left has meant that Labour is not at all in line with what I want from a government. No one in my constituency represents anything other than homogenous shrink-wrapped politics.
Dominic, London, UK
People and movements have to change with the times. What was relevant over a hundred years ago may not be now. So it's understandable that Labour has now adopted the mantle of Thatcherism. The question then remains whether the party ought to exist in its current state or become something else altogether - maybe the New Conservatives? Remember that nothing lasts forever.
What we must realise is that times are changing and so are the political parties. Britain's economy is now no longer based on manufacturing but on services. This means that the old working classes are greatly reduced in numbers. Also with the increased use of private pension schemes and people sitting on properties worth a lot of money, increasing numbers of pensioners have a higher disposable income than those in their thirties and forties.
A party must change to remain alive and modern but the trick is to remain true to your core values. Labour has always been the party that improves the lot of the "poor". It has remained true to this with its commitment to the minimum wage, increasing rights for part time workers, winter fuel allowance for pensioners and free TV licences for the over 75s. In order to stay true to its roots Labour has to keep sweet the millions of people who won't vote Labour unless there is something in it for them. Unfortunately it is the stronger sectors of society that have to be appeased before the poorer sectors can be helped.
When 'New Labour' runs the country according to Thatcherite economics and the Conservatives re-brand themselves with new added compassion and inclusiveness, it becomes obvious that none of them can understand what a principle is, let alone stick to it. But this shouldn't be so surprising once you realise the whole thing is a show designed to make us think we're getting some kind of freedom. There really isn't much choice when all the big players kowtow to big business.
Politicians these days only stand for Parliament in order to gain power - they are no longer interested in who or what they are representing. Tony Benn has got it right by dedicating his life to the cause of the people and true democracy. It is such a pity that he is standing down - many have a lot to learn from him.
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