The Norwegian Labour Party is currently(and more and less for the last 50 years) the ruling party in Norway. During that time Norway has developed from being one of the poorest countrys in europe, to become one of the richest countrys in the world. The unemplyment rate is very low (4,25%). However the norwegian people is a lot more conserned about high oil prices, and the Liberals will problaby win the next election.

The Irish Labour party is the nation's oldest extant political party, and the only major party which doesn't trace its origins back to the violent conflicts of the War of Independence and the Civil War.1

The party's current leader is Dublin architect Ruairi Quinn, previously Minister for Finance in coalition governments between 1993 and 1997 (first with Fianna Fáil, and then in a Rainbow Coalition with Fine Gael and Democratic Left).

1.This distinction is diluted somewhat by Labour's recent merger with Democratic Left, a smaller socialist party which can trace its origins back to the Sinn Féin split in the early seventies.

The following is how the Labour party describe themselves on the Irish Government web site:

"The Labour Party is represented in Dáil Éireann, Seanad Éireann and in the European Parliament as a member of the Party of European Socialists (PES).

"The Party was founded in 1912 at a conference of the Irish Trade Union Congress in Clonmel under the inspiration of James Connolly, Jim Larkin and William O'Brien.

"It is the oldest political party in Ireland and through its affiliation to the Socialist International is a sister party of the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland.

"The Labour Party seeks to build a society free from deprivation and based on the principles of democracy, equality, participation and co-operation.

"The Labour Party has twelve affiliated trade unions representing 50% of all trade union members in the State. Since its foundation, the Labour Party has taken part in seven coalition Governments most recently from 1994 to 1997.

"At the General Election of 1997 the Party won 17 seats making it the third largest party in the Dail. In the 1993 Government the Labour Party contributed to the negotiation of the Joint Declaration on peace in Northern Ireland signed by the then Taoiseach and British Prime Minister at Downing Street on 15 December, 1993. In 1990 Labour T.D.s and Senators nominated Mary Robinson as President of Ireland. She went on to win the election and became Ireland's first woman President.

"The leader of the Labour Party is Ruairi Quinn. The Party Head Office is at 17 Ely Place, Dublin 2."

The present British Labour Party was formed in 1900 from various groups involved in the Labour Movement, such as the Trade Unions and the Fabian Society. It was pretty much the first Labour Party in the world and was based on Democratic Socialist beliefs. Labour Parties were soon formed in most of Britain's colonies, for example Canada, and more recently in countries such as Israel: all are based on the model of the British party.

The party's main beliefs are outlined by the following points:

In the 1983 General Election the Labour party, under the control of nearly its most far left members (Lead by Michael Foot), endured a very bad defeat. They then began 'reforming', and these reforms lead eventually to Tony Blair's massive election victory in 1997. The reforms (especially Blair's) meant moving more and more to the right of the political spectrum and are symbolised by the changing of Clause IV of the party's constitution. This is the part that declared a commitment to state ownership of industry, and its replacement with some other widely meaningless waffle indicates that the last point in the above list definately does not apply to 'new Labour'. 'New' is the oldest word in politics Tony Benn, 2001
The only positive difference between New Labour and the Conservative Party is that the former supports the euro, gay rights, the abolition of fox-hunting and devolution for Scotland and Wales - all worthy causes, to be sure, but hardly the only policies on which one would expect to make an electoral decision. On virtually every other issue, the Conservatives are either in agreement with the government (benefit cuts for the disabled and single parents; the crushing of industrial action; anti-immigration legislation; war), or attack them from the left (tuition fees for university; the right to trial by jury). The exception to this is the minimum wage, which Labour commendably introduced (although, of course, at a pretty low level).

Fortunately, here in Scotland, unlike in England, the opposition differs significantly in policy from the government. Though Labour has a traditional psychological hegemony in Scotland which may take a while to break, the new Scottish Parliament - established by Labour, but manifestly only because of pressure from the Scottish National Party - has made that task the more achievable.

fondue: The BBC is controlled at every level by the Labour Party. Director General Greg Dyke, chairman Gavyn Davies, political editor Andrew Marr and former Director General John Birt are all members or former members of the Party - the latter now in an unelected government post. To claim that the Beeb has an anti-Labour bias is farcical, as is your suggestion that, were the Tories in power, we would currently be in the midst of war. In only five years in office, Tony Blair has already taken the country into more armed conflicts than any prime minister in history, and is currently seeking to better that record.

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