The Conservative Party is Britain's centre-right party, often lauded as the "natural party of government" - though this moniker is up for debate in the 21st century, particularly in light of recent events. The past nine years of government were turbulent for the Conservative Party: David Cameron moved the Conservatives to the liberal conservative centre ground and then Theresa May moved them in a more working class direction. Of course, the entire direction of the party was muddled by Brexit, which made odd bedfellow of everyone involved and threatened to tear the party apart.
So where are the Conservatives now? They lost their majority in the 2017 election and are now holding on to power based on a confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionists. The party tore itself to pieces passing the recent Brexit deal. And the result, there's a lot of distrust. The Remainers in Bright Blue and the Tory Reform Group and the hardcore Brexiteers of the Conservative Democrats and Cornerstone Group can't stand each other and managed to tear bridges apart from each other. The Free Enterprise Group and the Working-Class Tories find themselves pursuing dramatically different agenda. In summary, the Conservatives, once thought of as “the natural party of government”, are a coalition of feuding groups.
Tribes of the Conservative Party
Bright Blue - Bright Blue are liberal conservatives who form one half of the Cameron project; they are also the home of the orange Tories, who might be Liberal Democrats in another world. Bright Blue are your social justice liberal conservatives who embrace strong public services, environmentalism, internationalism, and the EU. They see some role for markets in public services, but drive towards creating genuine equality of opportunity. Socially liberal, they are not necessarily paternalistic and probably have a genuine belief in lifting up those who are less well off. They likely represent the closest thing to European-style Christian democracy and drove that element of Cameronism.
- Key Beliefs: Social justice, equality of opportunity; environmentalism; strong public services; pro-EU.
- Key Desires: Ideally seek public services or environmental briefs, comfortable with some economic policy.
- Think of: Justine Greening, Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen.
- Key Beliefs: Fiscal discipline, austerity; regional economic growth/leveling up; interventionism, pro-EU.
- Key Desires: Generally wish to run the Conservative Party, primarily interested in economic and foreign briefs.
- Think of: David Cameron, George Osborne, Nicky Morgan, Jeremy Hunt.
- Key Beliefs: Limited economic interventionism; social conservatism; paternalism with a safety net; eurosceptic.
- Key Desires: Ideally seek some economic (particularly as it relates to social security) and crime briefs.
- Think of: Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa May, Esther McVey.
- Key Beliefs: Free markets; market-based public services reform; light Thatcherism, small government; euro- and social-flexible.
- Key Desires: Ideally seek economic and public services briefs.
- Think of: Liz Truss, Dominic Raab, Priti Patel.
- Key Beliefs: Social conservatism, family values; strong national defence, eurosceptic; prevention of constitutional vandalism.
- Key Desires: Generally wish to run the Conservative Party, most likely to pursue crime, foreign, and constitution briefs.
- Think of: Jacob Rees-Mogg, Andrea Leadom, David Davis.
- Key Beliefs: Social conservatism, regression of reforms; personal libertarianism, freedom from state control; nationalist, actively anti-EU.
- Key Desires: Interested in foreign, justice/social policy, and public services (to slim down state control) briefs.
- Think of: Desmond Swayne, Steve Baker.
Labour is the United Kingdom's centre-left to left wing party. More importantly, it is a party in transition. Once dominated by its right wing during its years in government (1997-2010), Labour found itself slowly moving leftward until 2015, when it stepped on the gas with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. While the left wing of the party, consisting of the Socialist Campaign Group and Momentum, isn't particularly large in the Parliamentary Labour party, it has a history of influence in the party writ large. Of course, the fact that the right wing continues to dominate the parliamentary party with some representation from the centre left has caused plenty of strife in recent years. Ideologically, Labour varies between social democracy (Progress and Tribune), democratic socialism (Open Labour and Blue Labour), and socialism (SCG and Momentum). The exact location of Labour on the spectrum is up to you to decide.
Today, the Labour Party finds itself in an ideological conundrum. The rapid rise of the Socialist Campaign Group to the leadership and the presence of the Blue Labour remnant gave Labour a decent eurosceptic group that helped push Theresa May's deal through. While that's created tension, the real tension in the party is between the left and right wings of the party. The real challenge for Labour is that many of Corbyn's policies are popular until people find out Labour proposed them or when they get caught up in the revolutionary messaging. Blending some left wing policies with centre-left or Labour right messaging might be a valid strategy for Labour. Of course, some of the purists don't believe that they need to change the argument or the policies. More concerning for Labour is that its membership more resembles a coalition of disparate groups forced to cooperate with each other than a cohesive party.
Tribes of the Labour Party
Progress - Progress are the Blairite, New Labour remains of the Labour Party - being known at various points as "right wingers", "moderates", and "Tories". While still the largest individual tribe in the Labour Party, they are by no means the majority that they were. New Labour are traditionally globalist, believe in limited opening of public services to the market and maintaining a market-oriented economy, socially liberal, and embrace a tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime mentality.
- Key Beliefs: Free, but regulated, markets; globalism and interventionism; pro-EU; socially liberal; public services reform.
- Key Desires: Generally wish to run the Labour Party, content in all briefs (perhaps excluding local, regional, or environmentally-focused).
- Think of: Tony Blair, Liz Kendall, Rachel Reeves.
- Key Beliefs: Markets mixed with social justice; liberal internationalism; pro-EU; socially moderate to liberal; state-centered services.
- Key Desires: Ideally wish to be situated in public services and economic briefs, maybe foreign.
- Think of: Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper.
- Key Beliefs: Democratic socialism; public services investment; actively combating inequality; environmentalism; pro-EU, solidarity.
- Key Desires: Ideally want to be situated in public services, social justice-related, or environmental briefs.
- Think of: Ed Miliband, Annaliese Dodds, Angela Rayner.
- Key Beliefs: Tough on crime, reduced immigration; guild socialism, economic interventionism; euroskeptic, light populism.
- Key Desires: Ideally want to be situated in crime/justice or economic briefs.
- Think of: Jon Cruddas, Lisa Nandy, Kate Hoey.
- Key Beliefs: Traditional socialism; eurosceptic, if not anti-EU, noninterventionist; less punitive in the tough on crime agenda.
- Key Desires: Generally wish to run the Labour Party, likely to seek economic briefs (though things like health and foreign are welcome).
- Think of: Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell.
- Key Beliefs: Socialism, progressivism; Green Industrial Revolution/New Deal; pro-EU; constitutional reformers.
- Key Desires: Ideally want to be in a position to restructure the economy or tackle pressing issues (climate change).
- Think of: Clive Owen, Dawn Butler, Richard Burgon.