Politics is often discussed in terms of a left-right scale:
The political compass https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_compass adds a second axis that ranges from libertarian to authoritarian. Recent developments have also made Nationalism, coupled with concerns about immigration and environmentalism, adding important third and fourth axes of political identity but making the graph very hard to draw.
Throughout human history, we have learned to balance our self-interest as individuals against the interests of the group that we are a part of: our family, tribe, or nation; to maximise the chance of survival of our DNA overall.
In general, thinking primarily about self leads to a belief that people close to us are also more deserving of rewards than other people. These ‘better’ people, families and countries should be allowed to rise up to take their natural place at the top, from where they can distribute excess wealth to the less deserving, poorer people. This is the thinking of the economic Right Wing. Along with that goes property protection and inheritance rights, low taxation for wealth creators, national pride and the belief that the indivdual is entitled to exploit the environment for personal gain. If you don’t, someone else will. Along with this ‘self’-focussed attitude goes a similar pride about groups you feel a part of. If you becoming wealthy requires an irreplaceable mineral being extracted from under someone’s house then it will probably happen. This is Right-Wing thinking and may be coupled with a religious justification for the apparently selfish actions being undertaken.
Left-Wing alternatives prioritise the interests of the group above the individual. People are treated as though they are equal. The less fortunate are helped, by redirection of resources from those who have more. Socalist thinking leads towards break-down of nation states into a single world order, which must necessarily be authoritarian to keep everyone (outside the control structure) equal. Left thinking can be applied over time, so that resources must also be shared with people of the future. Traditional socialism promotes the idea of common ownership of property and the ‘means of production’.
In most parts of England we have:
UKIP – Economically Right-Wing but pretending to be the party of the common worker while supporting inheritance rights and low taxation for the very rich. Simultaneously arguing for the nationalist interests of the UK but against the nationalist interests of Scotland. Not strictly ‘racist’ but do think that people born in Britain deserve better lives than foreigners. They believe in liberty for people already in this country, as long as immigrants give up their own cultures and adopt ours (still to be defined.)
Conservatives – Economically, now extremely Right-WIng but increasingly restricting the rights of individuals so clearly authoritarian. Want a small state but are increasingly determined to impose a ‘city-state with major’ model on regions that have already voted against it. Risked the Union in a failed attempt to block Scottish Nationalism but have promoted an EU referendum that risks English nationalists provoking the Scots to break up the UK and the UK withdrawing from the EU with completely unkown results, given that the Conservatives have a very poor record of gamesmanship in international diplomacy.
Liberal-Democrats – apparantly consistent with their balanced, centrist values. They broke a promise about tuition fees while reaching a coalition deal with the Conservatives to ensure stable government during the banking crisis.
Labour – A supposedly Left-WIng party that only supports equality for people who have a job and as a reaction to UKIP became increasingly against immigration. During the 2015 Election it was exremely difficult to detect what they believed in but their time in office saw them not nationalise failing banks or railway services or engage in building of publically funded social housing. They instead supported the private funding of state services and encouraged free market economics but failed to enable adequate investment in renewable energy like our European competitors did.
Greens – A very Left-Wing party that puts the environment ahead of everything. Some policies do not appear to be completely worked out but it is early days. Working with their direct opposites UKIP on the single issue of voting fairness, after both parties faired very badly under the FPTP system, so can clearly be very pragmatic to get a result that takes them in the right direction.