Domestic Politics Party Profiles Politics


Archive This article is from our archive and might not display correctly. Download PDF
The Labour party have been in power since 1997 where 'New Labour' marked a shift towards the centre for the historically left wing party after 18 years in opposition.

Tony Blair's premiership from 1997 till 2007 saw devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, the independence of the Bank of England, the introduction of university top up fees as well as the Human Rights Act and the Civil Partnership Act for gay couples.

Gordon Brown, the current leader of the Labour Party, is so far an unelected Prime Minister, and has most notably presided over the financial crisis including the nationalisation of Northern Rock, as well as mounting distrust in the political elite following incidents such as the expenses scandal.

In the 2005 general election the Labour Party, under the leadership of Tony Blair, secured a majority of 66, which although was less than in both 2001 and 1997, still allowed Labour to control the legislative agenda. However, in the period since the last general election, by-elections, local elections and the 2009 European elections have shown a decline in support for the party, with them coming in third place, behind the Liberal Democrats, in the local elections of 2008. Whether this was simply a short term protest vote, or a longer term change in political beliefs is to be seen during this election campaign.

In recent months Gordon Brown's popularity has seen to bounce above the 30% mark once again, as voters' reward the party as the economy starts to recover. Opinion polls from the first week of the campaign place them on around 31% of the expected vote.

One of the main pillars of Labour's election campaign is the protection of public spending and services to ensure the country does not fall back into a double dip recession. They also promise to improve services, raise the minimum wage and support enterprise. Coming out of a recession these promises may seem ambitious, but they aim to pay for them by cutting waste, a 50p tax rate on earnings over £150,000 and raising National Insurance contributions.

The plans to increase National Insurance have become a key election battleground with the Tories claiming it is a "Tax on Jobs" and over 100 business leaders have written to the Daily Telegraph denouncing the plans.

Another key election issue is the party's attempts to clean up politics. Labour promises to introduce the right to recall MP's if found guilty of financial misconduct. They set up the process for the House of Lords to become an elected second chamber with a third of seats being elected in the next Parliament. Finally, they point to a written constitution being drawn up by a cross party commission and the possibility of having fixed term parliaments.

The Labour candidate for York Outer is James Alexander, a current local councillor and former York University Students Union President. The share of the vote in the 2005 election saw Labour winning the seat with 35.3% of the vote to Conservative's 32.3%, so York Outer is a key seat for Labour to hold onto in their campaign.

Latest in Domestic Politics