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The Parties: 2009 Edition


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At this time we are allowing players to join the two major parties: the Conservatives and Labour. We are open to applications for anyone who would be interested in playing the Liberal Democrats, but they would only be playable if the main parties had sufficient players and by an experienced player of political simulations.

Here you will find a brief description of the two major parties.

Labour Party: 352 seats (-3 from 2005)

Labour is the United Kingdom's centre-left party. Although an alliance of centrists (or followers of the 'third way'), social democrats, and democratic socialists; the current Labour Party is dominated by it's moderate "New Labour" wing. While many of the party's MPs (though not all of them) are instinctively a little more left-leaning, many of them politically grew up under Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock - and see a leftward turn as electorally costly.

Labour has been in Government since 1997, and its current standing pays the price of both twelve years in office and a significant recession following the financial crisis. After an initial surge in popularity when he took over in 2007, Gordon Brown has presided over record low poll ratings and election results. Many now whisper the unthinkable: that the party should dispose of a second leader, and pray that it saves the party from another stretch in the political wilderness. 

Perhaps more fundamentally, Labour is at a policy crossroads. Few think that new Labour, as it has governed since 1997, is long for this world: fiscal and economic realities mean that it has to make tough choices it could previously eschew. Fewer still think that a dramatic leftward turn would prove electorally appealing. The party's traditional partners in the unions continue to struggle to demonstrate their relevance beyond the public sector. So where next for new Labour? Can they renew in Government, or do the opposition benches appeal after twelve long years of government?


Conservative Party: 200 seats

The Conservative Party is Britain's centre-right party, often lauded as the "natural party of government". But it has been a long time out of Government for the Tories. A record defeat in 1997 was followed by two further record defeats. Appeals to "common sense" and "are you thinking what we're thinking" both ended in resounding rejections by the voters. Hoping to mimic some of Blair's star power, the Conservatives have opted for David Cameron: a self-decribed moderniser and "liberal conservative", who has purposefully changed the party's tone - emphasising climate change, social breakdown, and civil liberties. Critics on the left claim the changes are surface-deep, while critics on the right have so far put up with it as the price of power.

And it has worked - to some extent. The Conservatives feel on the brink of power for the first time since the 1990s. They have large poll leads, a - comparatively - popular leader, and a tired Government. And yet, the Tories remain nervous. The party barely made any gains in the European election - with the right-wing vote heading to UKIP. Their poll leads are flattered by a dismal Labour performance - not a strong Tory one. And while David Cameron is more popular than Gordon Brown, he remains far less popular than most leaders who go on to be Prime Minister.

There is little ideological desire to deviate from Cameron's path - although perhaps space for a more socially conservative or eurosceptic approach; or a stronger appeal to Thatcher's economics. But the Tories by 2009 are laser focussed on ending their losing streak, whatever the cost - and loath to rock the boat that might get them there.

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