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To what extent are the Labour and Conservative parties undemocratic organisations? Essay

or group by the majority of its members. By this definition Labour and Conservative are both democratic organisations because they have elements of policy formulation and MP election processes which are very democratic in nature as they involve a wide range of people within the party. However there are also undemocratic features about both these organisations such as one, or small group of people, being involved in party matters when democratically it should involve more people. Labour is democratic because the way that they form their policy is through large consultation. For example they have smaller groups on more local levels to make sure every tier of the party is involved like the NEC (National Executive Committee.)

This makes Labour democratic because it isn’t just the more powerful members of the party such as the party leader making all the decisions for everyone. Conservative is also democratic because they use open primaries which gives more choice to the party for their parliamentary candidate. For example in 2009 they experimented for the first time as to how effective it would be to use open primaries to select two of its parliamentary candidates and this proved very effective. They are obviously a very democratic organisation as they have kept this process in place since this time. Labour is also still very democratic because of the system they use to elect their MPs involves the rest of the party hugely.

For example in 2010 they used the One Man One Vote system to ensure everyone as fairly represented. This is very democratic as it ensures a even spread of the types of people within a party who are voting. However Labour does have undemocratic tendencies because the way their party funding works is that they rely heavily on donations for the organisation meaning that an outside party, someone with no party membership, could make a sizeable enough donation to affect the internal politics of the organisation and influence what the outcomes might be of certain elections.

There is also a danger of this with the Conservative Party just as much. The Conservative Party is also undemocratic for reasons to do with their policy formulation. It was thought on many occasions that only the Prime Minister and a few other members of his cabinet, if any at all, would write the whole party manifesto. For example in 1992 John Major was quoted as saying: ‘It was all me.’

This makes the policy formulation process undemocratic because very few people throughout the organisation are involved with the policy make-up of the party. Finally Conservatives are the most undemocratic beause their Leadership election process is so easily affected and influenced by those who want to do so. For example in their system it is possible to put forward a candidate that you know is unlikely to do well if voted for party leader against someone very capable so when it comes to the authorities at the top of the party, they are forced to choose the better option out of the two candidates. This is very undemocratic because it is influencing the vote to go a particular way without a fair democratic decision.

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